Yes, the picture above is not flattering. But how perfect is that shirt?
It feels pretty fitting to post this shortly after receiving my expiration notice on this domain. The clock has officially started ticking on this blog. Just a couple weeks left, so read up if you’re interested. Before I get to the actual post though, there are two orders of business I need to take care of first.
First, thank you to all of you who have tagged along on our journey via this blog. I recently checked analytics, and it turns out I do have a few consistent readers. Some I know and some I don’t. I really do appreciate that you took a few minutes out of your days and weeks to follow along. And if you’re like me, you just want to anonymously read it and then go about your business. That’s totally cool – I get that. But, I’m toying with the idea of starting another one or a similar creative project. Something that follows the next chapters on new jobs, new homes, new adventures, more food, more travel, prettier coffees (I’ve recently had a personal revelation that foam art might be my jam, that one time I exploded scalding milk in my face notwithstanding), but with better pictures and more useful information. So whether you’re a consistent follower or a drop-in-once-in-a-while reader, if you might be interested in following along our next chapter, please shoot me your email at email@example.com or just use this easy-peasy contact form.
Second, this post comes with a warning: Things are going to get mushy. If you aren’t into that sort of thing, skip it. Hell, I’m not even really into that sort of thing. There are plenty of other posts with pictures of cafés and beaches and flowers and completely innocuous buildings. Go have a gander at those.
But if you’re still with me, well this ending…there just isn’t another way for me to do it. So here goes…
Let me start by saying that I’m drafting this post while sitting on a bed in a motel. That’s right. Motel. With an “m”. In Green Bay, Wisconsin. It’s a real legit motel too. Complete with door-side parking, paper thin walls, and a screaming couple next door.
How in the hell did I get here? And why does this moment feel so quintessential S&M?
In our plans to roam the US a bit and visit our old haunts, we planned on making a stop in Madison where I used to work and continue to have a few friends. A place I really do love a good several months out of the year. S, on the other hand, despite only visiting it a few times, loves it perennially and has expanded that love to all things Wisconsin. Especially the Packers. And this love is the best kind of love – it’s unwavering for sure, but more than that, it has only grown and intensified over the years. Where I tend to be painfully aware of reality – it’s more rainy, it’s more congested, it’s getting older, etc., this guy walks around quietly turning a blind eye to any faults Madison may have, and only sees it getting greener, friendlier, and more beautiful than he last remembers. Where I see green expanses with nothing to do, he imagines quaint neighborhood markets where the store owner knows your name; where I see the daily trudge of scraping snow off your car every morning just so you can see the treacherous path you’ll be driving on during your daily commute, he sees snow angels and makeshift sleds; and where I see a small regional airport with no non-stop international flights, he sees the most blissful, low-stress airport experience ever.
When we decided to visit Madison, we (by that, I mean he) had the presence of mind to realize it would be very close to the Green Bay Packers Annual Shareholder meeting. And yes, we are shareholders. Literally, share-holders. We own a single share. The result of an ill-conceived birthday gift from years earlier.
So that is why we are here in Green Bay. And since we were on a budget, and wanted to be walking distance of Lambeau field, and I don’t always pay close attention when being asked about trip logistics…we ended up here. In this motel. Where we are going to put our jerseys on tomorrow and walk to Lambeau field, have hot dogs, listen to the updates, and cheer and clap when they show some awesome clips or repeat some amazing records…with thousands of our best fellow owners.
And that will just be one more completely weird, random, but awesome thing we’ve done recently.
The Original Backstory
As we’ve been visiting our old haunts, stalking our old apartments, visiting the Tulane campus, and reflecting back on this amazing sabbatical (of sorts), I realize this crazy journey started so much earlier. In fact, it started right here – in the building below on the Tulane campus, called the UC:
I came to school a little early that year. I figured very few people would be on campus and was really looking forward to having the place to myself. So one morning shortly after I arrived, I walked to the UC to get coffee and a bagel or some type of sustenance in what was effectively my pajamas. Which wouldn’t be so bad if I were one of those people who wore cute pajamas, but I didn’t really do “cute” so much as wear really over-sized t-shirts that my childhood friend would give me that often featured cartoon characters. So that is what I was sporting that morning as I made my trek to the UC. I’m walking across the campus, and as expected, it is mostly bare. Just a few people dotted here and there. It’s awesome and peaceful. I clear the large lawn separating my dorm from the UC, scanning the area just to make sure I don’t recognize anyone. Not a familiar face in sight.
I head into the UC thinking things should be pretty safe based on what I’ve seen so far. Still no familiar faces. But about 30 steps in, I see her. A friend. Not a super close one, but one that shares a lot of my friends. And my gut reaction is to escape. Exit. Pretend like someone is calling my name. But I’m too late. She is directly in the path I’m walking and she’s just sitting there looking right at me. So I walk up to her and we exchange pleasantries, and I’m really hoping her gaze doesn’t drift downward to my embarrassing shirt. And of course, she’s adorable. And not in the clothes she slept in (or maybe she is and she just has the best sleep-style I’ve ever seen). And she’s hanging out with someone because some people inexplicably like the company of humans in the morning. She proceeds to introduce me to the guy she’s hanging out with. Enter S. He’s just come back from school abroad, she says. Of course. How fancy. Please don’t notice my shirt. I really just wanted to get my coffee and get myself and my cartoon character the hell out of there. But I made a little bit of painful small talk instead while I held my hands awkwardly in front of me so as to obscure my shirt. And I couldn’t give two craps about S because I didn’t know him, but he was just the icing on this otherwise unfortunate cake.
I remember all of this because I spent the walk back admonishing myself (out loud) for wearing that in public and my friend for getting me such a goofy (that’s not a hint) shirt, and again myself for the lapse in my usually reliable worst-case-scenario approach to everything.
And that’s how it started.
I’ve been asked a lot about my thoughts on this trip. Two salient thoughts continue to surface for me after reflecting on it a bit.
First, taking this trip was so significant that it makes me feel like the sheer volume of experiences, highs, lows, foods, friends, and everything in between amounts to almost having a physical object – except one that no one can ever take away. Because for every chapter on this blog, there are 5 more I don’t or can’t write.
Second, I couldn’t have done this without S (and really, who would want to?).
The S of S&M
We are finding ourselves here again, in another station of great uncertainty. Not really knowing what exactly is next, and not all that dissimilar to the feelings we had when we were first embarking on our trip abroad. Except that we have considerably less of a plan. But underneath all the uncertainty and anxiety that comes with that, I know everything will be just fine cause he’s right here on my left mixing up a delicious cocktail of wit, love, humor, weird, clever, and cool and serving it up daily.
And yes, I’ll have a double.
So here’s to S, the guy who –
- Left flowers and the best note in my car a week before we left for Europe, with exactly the words I needed to hear
- Tells me — in his signature monotone delivery — that my legs must be tired from all the jumping to conclusions I’ve been doing
- Has read every single one of these posts (except for maybe this one), and actually thinks it’s decent
- Is an even-tempered constant in an especially crazy last couple of weeks (except when playing poker with strangers – then all bets are off)
- Made our last Christmas totally weird and special by building the best Christmas trash tree ever with me
- Answers me (painfully) honestly if I ask him how I look…and occasionally when I don’t
- Reassures me that I do bring a lot to the table when domestic snafus like this happen, even though it’s hard to come up with specifics right this second
- Leaves the best videos and messages on my phone when I need them most
- Traded turns hand mixing meringue with me for hours (or maybe it just felt like hours) so I could make this cake that I was obsessed with
- Adopts and entertains my most ridiculous whims (Exhibit A: reenacting a moment from 7 years ago, and Exhibit B: reenacting the eclipse (ok, c’mon, admit it, that’s brilliant. umm, is it not cool to do a double parentheses in writing?))
- Answers to a wide variety of embarrassing nicknames, which unfortunately I can’t share here
- Abandoned me in my most desperate time of need (on the dance floor) so that I can be mortified all on my own
- Encourages the creative side of me even when I think my art looks childish
- Gets unjustifiably annoyed when I ignore the romantic meal we’re having at Le Cinq in Paris because I’ve just spotted Arnold Schwarzenegger a couple tables away and obviously need to stealthily photograph him and describe everything he is doing
- Would gladly forgo the aforementioned wining and dining me at a fancy restaurant in favor of a night out at Medieval Times
- Makes a mean olive oil loaf, melt-in-your-mouth gnocchi, amazing chicken and andouille gumbo, and a surprisingly delicious (i.e. you won’t believe a white person cooked it) chicken curry
- Will not be turned away by a locked gate when he’s spent the last couple hours braving his fear of heights with his completely oblivious cousins
- Desperately wants to live in Madison, Austin, Portland, or Stars Hollow. Pretty much all the places I do not want to live (though I like them). And that last one isn’t even a real place.
- Works a photo booth prop table like no one’s business (you’ll see in the pictures below), but then sometimes really doesn’t even need a prop
and who is, and quite literally gave me, the world.
I’m a little sad this blog is coming to an end, and am really grateful to those of you who came along on our journey via this blog.
But it’s not an end, anyway. We’re just getting started. But before we get to the next chapter, here’s a little bit of us through the years. PS. Click on each pic to see the full image.