Tag Archives: Jess

Defeating the winter doldrums, one couch at a time

That old, familiar urge is returning. No, wait, that’s not quite accurate. The Wild Feeling never disappears completely; it does, like the moon, wax and wane, however.

So far in February, as it always does this time of year, it has waxed more than waned. Maybe it’s the weather and the never-ceasing snow that’s crammed a certain Cabin Fever mentality into every inch of my being.

It’s safe to say I’m done with the snow. I yearn for flowers and singing birds and warm weather and late night bike rides.

So instead I did what most reasonable people do in February, the dread of winter: Take road trips, eat warm, hearty food in restaurants with windows covered in condensation and drink pale ales in frosty glasses in the company of loved ones.

First on our road trip itinerary was IKEA for a new couch, and after way too much time there we dropped by the Incline for a ride with the “third most romantic view in the U.S.,” according to MSN.com.

I can’t protest, especially as Jess and I had the car to ourselves on the way down the hill overlooking Pittsburgh’s Golden Triangle.

Jess overlooking the city of Pittsburgh

Despite a little poor planning on our part, a trio of ladies, two from Boston, one a native ‘burgher, offered us the fare needed to get back up the hill and after a quick conversation with the native, who happened to be vegan, too, we cemented our decision for dinner (her recommendation was the third or so we’d gotten).

But first! Beer! We made our way to OTB, a hipster-ish bar on Pittsburgh’s E. Carson Street, dedicated to all things bikes. The misc. bike parts and bikes hanging from the walls and the murals of BMX, Mountain Bike and road racers only further stoked my itch to get outside. Fortuantely, the can of Dale’s Pale I consumed distracted me from my desire to hop on my bike as soon as possible (seriously, beer with an actual taste? In a can? Where can I buy it by the truckload?).

After that, it was time for some grub.

The Quiet Storm, Pittsburgh's best vegetarian/vegan restaurant.

The restaurant where we dined, aptly named Quiet Storm, specializes in vegetarian and vegan food (what else?), but had a BYOB alcohol policy. So after ordering our meals, I ventured back out into the Pittsburgh cold, slushing my way through sidewalks walled in by snow to make it to a small grocery store less than a block away. A sixer of Magic Hat #9 under my arms, I returned ready to imbibe with my girl.

Jess sipping a little Magic Hat #9, her self-proclaimed new favorite brewski.

The weather kept the crowd in the restaurant sparse, so there was a peaceful silence cast over the atmosphere as day turned to dusk outside. It was easy to then focus on nothing but our food and our beer and each other. Our conversation revolved around music and books and the practicality of buying a couch for our Valentine’s Day present to each other.

It might not sound like the most romantic of gifts, but it earned the approval of her married-for-35-years mother, who remarked that the purchase “made sense.”

Still, as much sense as it might make, all I could think about was spending evenings cuddling up on a couch together for the first time really in our relationship. Jess and I spent our first year commuting to each other’s apartment and house, but neither of us had a couch in all that time. I had a loveseat that hardly inspired love it was so small, and Jess had a vinyl orange thing without arms or a stable back rest.

When we’d get home with our IKEA couch put together, I envisioned, we’d spend long, lazy evenings cuddled together with books and Jim Jarmusch movies and season three of The Wire. My sense of romance may be off — I do have two ‘X’ chromosomes, after all — but to me nothing sounds more romantic — and a better recipe for defeating the winter doldrums — than that.

Jess and I at the Incline's Observation Deck.

A hard snow’s gonna fall

The best part about a large snow storm is the way the white, brilliant brightness magnifies the smallest bits of color, making them seem that much cheerier.

The look out my front door Saturday morning.

The look out my backdoor Saturday morning.

Of course, it could be those rose-colored glasses I’m wearing from being most likely, definitely, probably, sort of, for sure, the most happiest I’ve pretty much ever been:

Any woman that considers a Wire marathon, drinking whiskey and eating a stew a great way to spend your one-year anniversary is a keeper, boys. Mark it down. This is your measuring stick for all future relationships.

In some ways this feels true

“Some say time is like water that flows around us (like a stone in the river) and some say we flow with time (like a twig floating on the surface of the water). My sense of the world tells me otherwise. I believe that time is like a train, with men hanging out in front of the engine and off the back of the caboose; the man in front is laying down new tracks the moment before the train touches them and the man in the caboose is tearing up the rails the moment they are past. There is no linear continuation: The past disappears, the future is unimagined, and the present is ephemeral.”

— Chuck Klosterman

It hurts less with each day, but there are days when it still hurts — that twinge of nostalgia that’s more like the leftover pain from a wound I still purposefully poke.

I do it to myself consciously, dragging through these memories of the past decade, finding the ones that are fresher than I thought and rolling them around in my fingers like a marble. In the last 10 years, I’ve gotten married, divorced, graduated from college, began a career, had a son, sent my son off to school for the first time, bought a house, bought my first car, ran a half marathon, jumped out of a plane, made new friends, lost old ones, had my heart broken, my world shattered, my life built back up again, found G*d and lost him again.

I know it’s absurd to suggest I’ve grown more in the last 10 years than during any other decade of my life. But in some ways this feels true.

And through it all, I try to catalog these memories, to write them down and remember them. For if I don’t, as I’ve said many times here already, these memories and feelings will be lost forever.

And then there are days when my words get logjammed in my throat and I can’t find a way to break the dam and understand what’s happening to me.

There are days when it feels like my blank pages remain blank, and the world turns and the sun rises and the sun falls and people wake up and people shower and people work and people eat and I continue on in this hum of existence like a blur. During these days my life feels like a photo distorted by a shutter speed that was too slow to keep up with the action. Nothing of substance may occur, but I still fail to feel and experience much of what does happen.

Then there are days like nearly every day the past two months, when almost every day is bursting with a new and jubilant memory.

Sometimes these moments are small, like coloring pictures in bed on a Sunday morning.

Or bowling at a birthday party.

And sometimes these small moments are part of a bigger moment.

Like moving my girlfriend from Columbus to Marietta and making an impromptu fort with Ky from the empty boxes.

Or grabbing a lunch of hummus and lentils with Jess at the North Market.

Or coming home to my girlfriend practicing her ukulele.


And in these moments I could get lost forever. In these moments, if I could, I would suspend time. I would stop that train from barreling onward and take just another minute to cherish the scenery, to breathe in the air and smile. For if I don’t, these moments will become just another memory, and thus, in some small way, less real.

If only I could stop that train …