I’ve never been big on St. Patrick’s Day. It’s just never been my thing. Even in college, when most of my peers were waking up at the crack of dawn to ditch class and drink green beer at “unofficial,” I was diligently sober in class.
I really don’t know how I’ve avoided it for so long. I mean, Chicago celebrates St. Patrick’s Day pretty hard. So much so that people I’ve met who are actually from Ireland have told me that they hope to celebrate here some day.
Once known as being one of the biggest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations outside of Dublin, the parade was shut down in 2009 for being too out of control. Too many people were attending, too many people were drinking in the streets and causing trouble, and the community couldn’t support the chaos.
But in 2009 the parade marched again, now with a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol, and returned to it’s roots of a community event.
On Sunday I went to the parade with Heather and Jeremy and their friend Pat who lives near the route. And we watched bagpipers and Irish dancers and storm troopers and Santa Claus.
And, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I celebrated St. Patrick’s Day.
I mean, I know it was a big thing in 2003, maybe, before all this internet dating came about. But in an age of OK Cupid and Tinder, where you don’t even have to leave your couch to meet a man, where all you have to do to find someone interested in you is swipe one little index finger right, actually having forced conversations with a room full of strangers in a public place just seems like an anomaly.
But these are the kind of men I find on Tinder.
And these are the kind of men I meet in real life.
(See what I’m doing here?)
And so, I guess I’ll try anything.
Even if that anything involves dragging myself to a dank basement bar with moody music and seven men waiting to have micro-conversations with me.
When I agreed to this speed dating thing I kind of imagined some bright river north bar with lines of tables and man upon man waiting to be micro-interrogated.
But, no. There were seven men. Which I guess is OK, because, really, I can only say the same thing about myself so many times before wanting to crawl in a hole.
But it was also kind of weird because there were also seven women and, including me, I knew five of them.
Did I mention that was weird?
Speed dating might not have been my first choice for finding a date. I mean, I didn’t even know people did speed dating anymore. But a coworker was telling me about this event she was signed up for — speed dating for travel lovers — and I thought, “I travel!” And, “I want to meet men!” And so I invited myself along. And then panicked.
I mean, small talk isn’t exactly my favorite thing. But, hey, if there’s one thing I can talk about, it’s travel. Or, at least, if there’s one thing I can talk about more than most other things, it’s travel.
And, really, all I had to do was sit there drinking a rum and coke while the men went in a circle meeting us.
Easy. Kind of.
All of the guys were nice. Some, more attractive than others. Some, easier to talk to than others. Some, more my type than others.
Sometimes conversations flowed. Sometimes, it stifled. Sometimes I was bombarded with so many questions that my mind went blank. When one of them asked what my favorite food was you’d think I’d never had seen a morsel of anything edible before in my life. When another asked what I do for fun I had to scramble to think of anything other than “watch Netflix in bed.”
And when I heard a question wrong from a non-native English speaker I accidentally told him I’d never left the country before and, too embarrassed to back track, went with it.
But sometimes it was easier. After all, all those answers to all those famous backpacker questions are second nature to me now: where do you come from? Where have you been? Where are you going? Oh yeah, what’s your name?
And, in the end, I talked to seven men and survived. And even had fun.
The next day I went onto the website to choose my matches. I chose four of the seven guys. Only one I was kind of actually interested in, but the other three I at least felt were nice and that we could have a good conversation. So, what the heck, right?
And then I went back to the homepage where it showed me my matches.
And then I checked again the next day.
And then I checked again every day until the window of opportunity to pick closed.
And every time it was the same: zero. I got zero matches at speed dating.
So I guess I just need to become a polygamist. Or a sub. Or a mistress.
But, in the four months since, I haven’t really been “here.” Not yet. I was living in a friend’s spare bedroom. I was living off of a designated shelf in the cupboard, a designated shelf in the fridge, a borrowed bed, a borrowed pillow, a borrowed towel. All of my things were still in storage at my mom’s. I couldn’t join a gym because I had no idea what part of the city I’d end up in (and, let’s face it, the only way you’d get me to a gym is if it’s convenient to home). I couldn’t shop for furniture because I didn’t know if I’d end up in a one bedroom or a studio, if I could splurge on a queen bed or would have to make due with a twin. I’d been wearing the same four dresses and one pair of boots everyday, still living out of a backpack.
The bedroom in my Lincoln Square Apartment
The bedroom in my Lincoln Square Apartment
The bedroom in my Lincoln Square Apartment
I was neither here nor there. I was neither traveling nor settled.
I was living in between.
And it was depressing.
Don’t get me wrong: I had a great living situation and am grateful to Katie for letting me stay with her (and her cats!). And I’ve actually loved working. I love my job. I love my company. I love my coworkers.
But I felt off and had little motivation for anything other then Netflix.
The whole situation made me feel like I was back in my twenties. In that state where I didn’t know what I wanted, what I was doing. When I didn’t travel and didn’t move and lived with my parents for way too long. When I cried way too often and did nothing but work, watch TV, and sleep.
But, at least, this time, it was only temporary.
This weekend I started moving into my new apartment. It’s a one bedroom in the Lincoln Square neighborhood of Chicago.
I’m living close to bars, restaurants, coffee shops, shopping, a gym, and public transportation.
It’s an old apartment, it’s a little crumbly, but I like it. There’s a lot of space. There are a lot of windows that bring in a lot of light. There are pink tiles in the bathroom. There are lots of closets waiting to be filled.
It’s a blank canvas that I’m excited to decorate just how I want.
I’ve already brought over everything I had with me. I’ve already bought some new things and made entirely too many trips to Target. I’ve even already ordered my perfect teal couch (though it will take at least 8 weeks to be delivered…)
I’m hoping that all of this brings me out of my funk. I’m hoping that I’ll finally start feeling settled because I will be settled. I’m hoping that I stop feeling like I’m living in between and more like I’m just living. That I’m here.
I spent most of the 28 days working, even on weekends where I worked anywhere from an extra hour or two to an extra twelve.
And one of my best friends moved way. And didn’t say goodbye. And hasn’t talked to me since. And I’ve had to, more and more, come to the realization that maybe he was never a friend at all.
I’m just exhausted from it all.
Anyways, here are a few of the things I got up to in February when I wasn’t working or crying into my pillow…
I started moving into my new apartment this weekend! It will be good for me to have my own place. I hope. I really am more than exited to start this new chapter in life, and I’ll tell you all about it soon. But, for now, all I have is a mattress and I still haven’t even slept there because I had a commitment to catsit over the weekend. Tonight though, tonight…
I worked one of the best wine auctions in the world. And I looked pretty doing it
I saw The Passenger, which was the opera I most anticipating all season. It’s a powerful story of a former Auschwitz prison guard confronted by a former prisoner and her past. I don’t think I’ve cried as much during any other opera I’ve seen. It was sad at times and moving at others. If you’re in Chicago I highly recommend it (and I am not just saying that because I work there…)
Because I apparently can’t get enough opera, I went to Lagunitas Tap Room for Chicago Opera Theater’s Beers and Baritones event that featured a performance, tamales, and as much beer as you could drink before they closed.
I went to the Anti-Valentines Day party at Thalia Hall for, shocker, Valentines Day. And there were entirely too many people there who were coupled up. But I got drunk and danced with my girlfriends. So all is good.
And I ate some really good things…
Like the scallops with polenta (why can’t I ever get my polenta at home to turn out this good?) at a pre-opera dinner at Townhouse.
And the pastrami and corned beef hash at Eleven City Diner (But seriously, why is it you can get breakfast all day but can’t get lunch for breakfast? All I wanted was some matzoh ball soup and a pastrami on rye.)
And some pintxos and and cocktails at Salero, my favorite being a little paella bite that had all the beautiful flavors of paella packed onto a toothpick. (Of course, I could have done with a whole plate of it…)
And dinner at avec. Again. Where we ate way too much. Again.
I know what you’re going to say: “Just look on Craigslist.” Or, alternately, “Just go to IKEA.” And what you mean to say is, “Just get something cheap.” Because, to you, maybe a couch isn’t that important.
But, here’s the thing, I’ve been dreaming of buying my own couch since before I ever dreamed of traveling the world. And, while I was traveling, I’d often window shop online, lusting after what was out there, dreaming of someday decorating an apartment exactly how I’ve always envisioned.
I’m weird, OK.
I’m not sure when or why it got into my head that I needed a teal couch. You’d think maybe I’d obsess over a pink couch, seeing as everywhere else in life I obsess over pink. But no, when it comes to decorating, everything is teal. And so, when it comes to my couch, I’m all about the teal (or, at least, any sort of blue-green shade).
I once actually bought a powder blue sofa. It was ridiculously cheap at an outlet store because it was a floor model and only had one arm (it was technically part of a sectional — I’m not sure what happened to the rest of it). But it sat in my poor parents’ house forever as I was too poor to move out and eventually they gave it away to my sister.
But anyways, I want a teal couch. Sure, it may be more practical to get something neutral, like brown or gray. But suck it. Teal. Teal teal teal. Besides, I’m not allowed to paint in my new apartment so I need color everywhere else. Everywhere. Else.
Teal is actually a pretty popular color in couches. OK, I don’t know about popular, but it’s at least pretty available.
Teal is actually a pretty available color in couches. So there are a lot of options for me to choose from. Some are probably more comfortable than others. Some are definitely more affordable than others. And some are just downright impracticable (but pretty, still). It makes finding the perfect couch hard. Well, easy, because I want like three couches. Can I just have three living rooms? (The answer to that is, “No,” I can barely afford a one bedroom apartment to begin with.)
I kind of already know which one I’m leaning towards, because it’s one I’ve been lusting after in the store for a while. But then I see other ones and get confused. So confused.
But I really can’t wait to finally have a couch of my own. (I know, weird.)
What do you think? Which couch is your favorite? Or do you think I’m crazy and should just go on Craigslist and buy something brown. I can take it. (OK, no, I can’t.)
Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten named Bacon. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and have been traveling the world ever since. Learn more about me and my life list.