Last week, my Love Interest dropped me off at a quirky Korean café. I thought I'd be sick, I was so nervous.
"So, you're really excited," my Love Interest said, while we ran errands before my date. It wasn't a question.
"Nervous," I said. "I'm really nervous. Really, really, really nervous. I might throw up."
"You're so excited. You feel so alive."
"I feel like I'm going to die." I made deep-breathing sounds through my nose. I needed him to know I was serious. "Why do I do this to myself? I know this kind of thing makes me nervous, so why do I do it?"
"Sooooo alive. You've never felt more alive before."
Fight or flight was kicking in. I was not in the mood for joking: "It's nerves, though. Not excitement."
That's when he made a face at me and shrugged. "Well, they're kind of the same. Isn't it how you look at it?"
That fine line between anxiety and excitement has vexed me most of my life. It seems my enthusiasm is always tempered by my worry. Wearing my new running shoes promotes the feel-goods—because they're cute and I like how I look in them—but, with a generous helping of dread for the moment that I invariably slide on trail mud or scuff up the toes. And the things that cause me tremendous amounts of anxiety are often the very things that thrill me most. If I think about it too much, promising you this weekly newsletter terrifies me—what if I have nothing to say, or suddenly can't write to save my life?—but, then there's the euphoria I feel every Monday afternoon, once the newsletter is written and shared. It's hard to tell where one emotion ends and the other begins.
Last week's café outing was with an artist I've long admired online, who happens to live here, where we're parked for the next while. Back in September, when I realized we were headed for the very city where she lives with her family, I wrote her an email, asking if she'd like to meet up for coffee. She kindly wrote back, we got a date on the books, and I went about my days until her name popped up on my calendar last Wednesday. And then, the very thing I'd initiated became the very last thing I wanted to do. What if I didn't seem cool? What if she didn't like me? I half-hoped she'd cancel.
While we drove to the Korean café, my Love Interest teased me, tried to help me shift from nervousness to excitement. He pulled up to the curb and wished me good luck on my first date. (Hardy har har.) I went inside, ordered something warm, scanned the room (ugh, just like a blind date), picked an empty table, and then emailed the artist to let her know what color I was wearing. Then, I waited. I waited and waited and waited.
Finally, a reply: "Helen! I never saw your email confirming tonight. I am so sorry!" She wrote that she was just back from a run and needed a shower, but could meet me later. Or we could pick another day. She said she wasn't sure she'd ever stood someone up. She was so sorry.
Long story short, she showed up maybe 45 minutes after our original meeting time and we hugged like old friends, settled in with some tea (she had the Korea blend, but recommended the goguma, which is sweet potato; I've bookmarked it for next time), and spoke about having children and making art, about changing hairstyles and combatting racism, about trying to plan everything out versus taking a leap and using your magic to create something on the spot. It was energizing. It was fun. It was definitely exciting. And I made a new friend who I think is very cool and whom I don't dislike for almost standing me up.
Notes from the week of November 8
+ crafting supplies I don't need, but can't stop ogling
+ the blog of Katrina Rodabaugh
+ this episode of the podcast, Good Life Project, on the power of curiosity
+ tiny double-walled glass teacups without handles
+ One Awesome Thing
MEALS EATEN, DRINKS DRUNK
+ black royal chai
+ iced green tea latte
+ veggie bibimbop
+ fish tacos
+ Underwood pinot noir (comes in a can!)
+ Numi chocolate Earl Grey tea (with honey and plenty of cream)
+ toffee chip biscotti
+ SunBursts yellow cherry tomatoes
+ Talenti raspberries & cream gelato
+ queso and chips
+ whiskey sours (as always...)
LOCAL COLOR EXPERIENCED
+ trail-walking at Martin Park
+ learning new parts of the city, while hunting around for other Korean cafés
+ purchasing all manner of supplies to winterize our windows and pipes (the temperature here is about to drop...and RVs don't like the cold)
CURIOSITIES TO BE MADE
+ more postcards, from our iPhone photos
+ tiny postal notebooks for a special project