A few weeks ago on a Friday, I got on a plane headed for Montana. I was feeling sorry for myself. The guy I was seeing just realized that he wasn’t that into me, I had been suffering from Bronchitis for over three weeks, and I had to fly home for roughly 48 hours to go to a funeral. I was not my usual happy self, and I didn’t really feel like being cheered up (note: not normal for me).
But I somehow found joy in the most unlikely places, accidentally. In fact, since then, I’ve been continually reminded that although life is never perfect, there are wonderful things at every turn. I keep thinking of a voicemail my mom left me last summer when there were forest fires all around Missoula and the smoke had settled in the valley, making just leaving your house hazardous to your health. She talked about how smoky it was and then said, “So that’s the bad part of life here right now, but the good parts are everywhere.” It’s sort of like the opening scene of Love Actually, where the narrator talks about going to the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport and discovering that love actually is all around.
That Friday night, I was my dad’s date to a wedding (the oldest son of one of my dad’s golf buddies got married), and although I’d never met the couple and couldn’t think of anything that sounded less appealing that attending a wedding that night, they looked so blissfully happy that I couldn’t help but enjoy myself, celebrating with them.
Even the funeral provided moments of joy. When I read the obituary that my dad wrote for the family friend who passed away, I was inspired all over again by her courage, her sense of adventure, and her love for her family. Saturday night, after the memorial service, all of my dad’s friends from high school (that’s right – high school) and their kids went to the Sip-N-Dip in Great Falls, which is one of my favorite Montana gems. We drank blue cocktails out of fishbowls and put dollar bills on the glass to tip the mermaids. One of my dad’s friends, John, tried to convince the bartender to let him borrow the mermaid costume and go swimming, but apparently the pool is closed at 9 PM to everyone but guests of the hotel, which we were not.
When I flew back into Portland after the whirlwind trip, my friends met me at the airport and took me out for drinks, even though it was late on a school night. They were amazing. They listened. They made me laugh. They even looked at my Sip-N-Dip photos and pretended I wasn’t talking crazy. They didn’t tell me I was too emotional or lame or needy or awkward. They told me I was awesome and hugged me hello and kissed me goodnight on the cheek. Even the ones who live halfway across the country called me that week and supported me, and I didn’t even have to ask.
So yes, I’m currently in the busiest part of the year at work. Yes, I worked 12 hours yesterday after working last weekend, and it’s only going to get worse. Yes, the summer’s over. Yes, three more of my closest friends moved away in the last month. Yes, I’m single. Again. Yes, the economy’s terrible and the presidential race is ten times closer than it ever should have been. But how can anything in life look bad when there are so many good parts?