"My wife and met online on a blogging site and were flirting with each other in comments and things, and then we first met up in person under the marquee at The Roseland. I eventually proposed to her there. We had plans to meet up that day and were coming from opposite parts of town so I casually, was like ‘Let’s meet outside The Roseland, It’s pretty central.’ I had coordinated ahead of time with them to put ‘Jenni, will you marry me?’ on the marquee. When she saw it, she just kept saying, ‘Oh my God, what are you doing?! What are you doing? Oh my God!’ and I was like, ‘Jenni, be quiet for a second, I have some things to say to you.’”
I’m an advocate for authenticity, connecting with people, doing what you love, and trying to make the world a better place. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I could do to take these values of mine and make them an actionable part of my life. So far, Humans of Portland has been one of the best ways I’ve found in my life to express the things that are important to me, but to be honest, there are times (a lot of times!) when I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, or maybe I have ideas about what I want to do next with this project, but am not sure how to go about it. I’m going to guess I’m not alone in feeling this way. Am I right?
I met with Megan earlier this week. Like all of my meet-ups, whether planned or spontaneous, I had no agenda or pre-conceived ideas about what we might talk about. I was pretty excited to find out about the organization Megan works for, called Idealist.org.
“We help people identify what their intentions are and help turn those into action. A lot of times people don’t know what they need to turn their ideas into actions, so we help identify those needs and provide resources to help bridge the gap.”
“Wow, I love that! Do you mind if I share it on Humans of Portland along with your portrait?”
“Um…sure! I mean, I guess…this is not what I expected!”
“Well, me taking your portrait was kind of a prerequisite to meeting, you know?”
“Oh, I guess I missed that part!”
Thank you, Megan!
(Find organizations, volunteers, jobs, events and other people looking to make the world a better place! Get out there and connect! http://www.idealist.org/)
ps. In case you were wondering, promoting this organization was 100% my idea and entirely unpaid.
"I’m going through a divorce right now and I’m looking forward to just focusing on myself. You know, after a while of being with someone, it’s going to be exciting to do things and not have to run them by anyone."
"What are you most excited to do?"
"I’m not even sure. Just possibility."
"When I first met him I was attracted to his confidence. But as the years went by, what I thought was confidence turned out to just be his ego."
These two were exercising together the whole time I was at the park. I caught up to them just in time to hear mom say, “Ok, will you race me?”
"Because you encourage me to run faster!"
"We met at a conference in New Mexico and then dated long distance for quite a while."
"I know that can be hard. What made your relationship work?"
"The strength of our connection. I mean, we’re just such a good fit that I think we could see so much potential and that got us through the distance."
"I don’t really like people, but it’s difficult to get comfortable with loneliness. I mean, I’ve tried to have friends, but it never works out. And I’m tired of going out alone. I’m ok staying in at my place. It smells good when I burn incense and I have a lot of records and I can just play video games.”
The bus she was waiting for arrived. “Do you need to go?”
"It’s ok. Another one will come in ten minutes… But then, you know, sometimes I just want a partner— a relationship. It would be nice to share this part of my life with someone. I’ve been single for years, and you know, there are people I could call if I wanted to. But people always end up saying things that rub me the wrong way, or if I open up to them, suddenly they want me to be their best friend, and I don’t want people to have expectations of me. I don’t want to waste anyone else’s time if I’m not interested in being close to them."
Another bus came and went while she told me about the loneliness, wiping tears from her eyes. Then another. “I’m sorry, I’ve talked too long.”
"It’s really ok. Sometimes we just need to connect."
"Yeah, I forget that sometimes."
We spent a good deal of time talking about stifled creative energy and the responsibilities that keep us from accessing those parts of ourselves.
"It’s like this thick, black sludge — this dark yuck that I have to go through."
"What would your life look like without that?”
"I want to wake up in the morning and do something that energizes me, like go for a run, or some kind of self-care. And then I want to be able to channel that into some kind of creative energy that gives back to the world. And I want to just… clean my house! And cook dinner at home. It’s probably been 4 or 5 years since I’ve cooked dinner, so my husband and I eat out. I think things are going to shift soon. I just have a feeling."
"I came out to my family when I was 15."
"How did that go?"
"Not very well at all. I did it over the phone, so I would be away from everyone. But, once I knew it was safe, I came home and eventually we worked things out."
I asked her to tell me about a time in her life when she felt unconditional love. “Oh, that’s an interesting question. You know when someone is nice to a person until they get what they want?” She went on to share a story about a time when a friend took financial advantage of her.
I was a bit confused, as it certainly didn’t sound like unconditional love, but I don’t have an agenda for my conversations with people, so I just listened. When she finished her story, she asked, “Why did you ask me that question?” I shared my process and my current short list of starter questions. Her eyes lit up. “Oh! UNconditional love! I misunderstood! I can tell you about that and you can forget all about that negative story. I’m a Christian and the unconditional love of Christ has transformed me into a more positive person. People often wonder how I stay positive because of the experiences I’ve had in my life. I was living in the Middle East during the war and had to flee to Jordan and when I moved here a year ago I fell and broke my hip. My ongoing health problems have made the recovery process long and difficult. But I have been able to overcome those things and I’m a very positive person.”
"Do you mind if I take a photograph of you guys?"
"As long as you’re not a cop."
"I hope this doesn’t end up in The Mercury."
"Tell me about your first love."
"My first love? No, I won’t tell you about that. But I will tell you about my most dynamic love. I had been recently divorced and my neighbor was having a birthday party. I really didn’t want to go and my mother was like, ‘You need to go be out in the world!’ So I went…and I met this man and immediately I knew, and he knew. And he had come to this party with another woman that he was in the process of separating from, and apparently she told him, ‘This woman is going to be trouble in our lives, isn’t she?’ And I wasn’t trouble, but he and I went on to be married for 23 years. Eventually we spent $20,000 on a divorce lawyer and went our separate ways for a couple of years…and then I think we both knew we had to come back together and get the rest of it out. So we did and we worked through all of it and now we’re really dear friends. I feel so grateful that I’ve had that love in my life that engulfed me.”
"What makes the student-teacher relationship work?"
"Openness and acceptance of each other."
"A willingness to try things."
"If you were to give advice to a large group of people, what would it be?"
"Whatever it is in your life that you’re worried about, let it go."
"Do you feel like you’re able to achieve that?" "Most of the time. Lately I’ve been reading about anxiety and how most things we worry about are in the future or the past. Like I’ll start overthinking things and then feel like I need to write about it to work it out and then I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s going to take up my whole day…’ So, it’s really about just letting it go and doing whatever it is you need to do and being present.”
In mere weeks, these two have mastered a skill that takes most pet/owner relationships a lifetime to achieve: The Look-Alike.