a conversation between ryan and christine
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i disagree, ryan. i don't think the only things worth doing are those that create stories or tell stories. i think some of the most routine things are precious and i think that some things are worth keeping to ourselves.

when i went to new york, i didn't do much. i sat in the park for half a day and ate ice cream. another afternoon, i went to the market and cleaned the house. i took really long naps. it was the most perfect time, and when i came back everyone asked me how it was and what i did and i had nothing to tell them. i didn't want to talk about it, because aside from listing my schedule of non-events what was there to tell?

you and i are lucky because we've had grand adventures, but there are some people who never even leave the city where they grew up. this doesn't make their lives less meaningful than ours. there may be beauty in their everyday lives that we would never notice and they would never tell, because it doesn't warrant a narrative.

i think because we've had such good times we put pressure upon ourselves to create and recreate this magic all the time. i think expecting such grandeur is setting ourselves up for failure. i think demanding that everything revolve around documenting and detailing is potentially missing the experience.

when i grow up, i want to be a lady of leisure. i want to be an advocate for the mundane. i want to teach the world to see that there is pleasure to be taken every day in the littlest things and it is okay to keep every little bit of it all to yourself.

and thus wrote christine on 5/20/2002. +

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it really has been strange, a mostly wonderful strange, having my whole world shifted. i've been thinking recently about how my daily routines change from place to place and from time to time, depending on the schedules and habits and interests of the friends i'm spending my free time with. i'm still passionate about the same projects that filled my days when i lived in plymouth, but my routines have changed somewhat to merge with the lives of my old friends, these new roomates. and so i try to clamor out of bed when my friend josh puts on his morning coffee before work., and i try to watch the tv shows that make andrew laugh.

i can be adaptive like that, i guess. but i've also brought some of my own routines, developed after years of living with my family (evening walks, carefully-prepared dinners, widespread yogurt and tea consumption, web-surfing 'til dawn) to the daily structure of our apartment life. and everything has gone swimmingly. the weather always goes swimmingly. i would like to go swimming. los angeles is a trip.

last tuesday, after you and i left the movie theatre, and meandered through streets, and found a cafe that wasn't empty, and sat down somwhere with cups of something, and i made dumb jokes (as usual), and you teased me (always), and i zoned out, and we stood up, and you left to go pack for a weekend trip to the east coast, i found myself wandering around westwood village alone for an hour or two. i watched colors, ordered pizza and waited, stared in window after store window, and looked on as people passed throughout the brightly-lit shopping area. and i spent much of that time thinking about something i had said to you, that my life isn't producing as many stories as i would like, as i've somehow grown accustomed to. it's withdrawal, really; my month of travelling on the road kept me so stuffed full of new experience, talkable exciting hilarious experience, that my new domestic life seems to pale in comparison. but it shouldn't. i'm just moving at a different speed, consuming more media and information than every before (a little too much), ready to find myself a job and become a productive citizen of california. woo-hoo.

i think i decided somewhere along the line that the only doings worth doing are those that create stories or tell stories. have i said that before? probably. i'm not sure why i believe it, but i do. as if the fundamental defining ability and necessity of the human experience is story-telling, culture made external so it will outlast our finite lives.

for today, at least, i've decided not to sit around waiting for myself. i'm already busy. and i think you and i should get together soon to do something incredible or ridiculous, something worth telling about.

and thus wrote ryan on 5/7/2002. +

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this space will be interesting to watch, now that you are here. this morning -- or i guess it was the afternoon, wasn't it? -- we had pancakes and eggs and coffee at bob's big boy. we shared laughs as we passed the sugar and told stories while we buttered our toast. that was very different from clicking keys and scanning text. it was the kind of day i would tell you about, but you were already there.

it's refreshing, though, to hear your voice and see your smile. i don't feel at all as though we've had to make a gigantic leap from text to flesh. it's more like you are an old friend who has come back around.

i wish it could be that easy with everyone. i know we've talked about this before, and i am sure i will say it over and over again: there are simply too many wonderful people who live all over the globe and i wish i could see them more often than i do. i wish i could see them all the time.

it must be strange for you, too, to have everything shifted. you see some of your best friends on a daily basis, but now you are thousands of miles away from your family. thank god for cheap flights and four-day weekends and free long distance minutes. we can always find ways to stay connected.

i don't know what you see this site becoming. it was, after all, your dream that started it and your work that has kept it going. but i would like to stay a while to see where it ends. yes, you and i can meet for coffee and conversation, but it is, and always has been, about more than just the two of us. there will always be stories to share and people with whom to share them. maybe this time we'll be telling some stories together.

and thus wrote christine on 4/8/2002. +

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i'm here, i'm here, i've been here for a week now. and today marks the first morning that i haven't woke to bright sunshine piercing through my window. a welcome change, really. still, every day i blink myself concious in my squishy bed and the air temperature couldn't be better and i've slept so well.

i miss the knocking back of drinks, in every little town and big city across the country. for me, my dear, travelling became quite an addictive lifestyle. i always had plenty of time to enjoy the friends and the people i was visiting, with the smug knowledge that soon i'd get to enjoy the same fun somewhere else, with someone else. and i suppose that's how i've been living my life for a long time anyway. like you said: you can live and work within a sixty mile radius as if you're travelling the globe. enjoying the present, enthusiastic for the future.

the people, the people. i'm so lucky, christine, to have as many friends as i do sprinkled all across the country for the visiting and the chatting and the drinking. so lucky to have the time and money to make it happen. and i'm home, now. last night my longtime best friends (now my new roomates) and i went out for a few rounds of drinks at a great bar in glendale, red-lit and wooden like a boy scout cabin directed by david lynch. there's so much to explore and grok here, the roads and oh! the beaches, friends and mountains. i'm slowly building a new life. connecting to the surrounds, to work, to people. it's all travelling, i guess.

i just need to find a favorite diner.

and thus wrote ryan on 3/28/2002. +

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are you here, yet?

driving across the country is something i have always wanted to do, so i hope you don't mind that i have been living vicariously through you. i have been knocking back drinks and making jokes and telling stories just as you have. i've been looking out the window, watching the world go by, trying not to think about things too much. the only difference is my adventures have all taken place within a 60-mile radius.

part of me still wants to leave this place, but it is getting harder and harder to imagine life outside of here. for reasons practical: i've got a secure job. for reasons more precious: i've got a family and friends and a house and a neighborhood bar and a favorite diner and the sunshine. this month alone, i know three wonderful people who are moving closer to me and i start to ask myself, will i ever want to leave?

i hope so. i know there will come a time when something somewhere else calls my name and i come running. by then, i will be ready. for now, i am fine just where i am.

and thus wrote christine on 3/20/2002. +

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slowly and carefully, I'm making my way across the country. it's like you said - if I focus too much on the before and after, I might miss the during. so I haven't thought too much about the people and places I've left behind, even though I do miss everyone and everything. I'm looking forward to driving into L.A., in two weeks, but I haven't given too much thought to what life will be like there. I think that maybe more than anything else, good traveling requires a willingness, to live in the changing present. I've visited good friends and new friends and old friends, and every place that I've visited has felt like home during the time I've stayed there.

a friend of mine once told me she thought I would be happy anywhere. maybe that's true. place is incidental. there's so much to see, everywhere.

middle america posesses an often grotesque beauty, particluarly in winter: endless flatness, fields of dirt, billboards, straight roads, leafless trees, parking lots. but the small towns pack in politeness, something patient and simple. there's just so much space. even when dense, still there's space.

in just a few hours my friend jared and I head off on a 17 hour car ride from Urbana, Illinois to Houston, Texas. Toward a new temporary home and another group of good friends. before long, dear, I will be in California too.

and thus wrote ryan on 3/7/2002. +

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maybe there are different kinds of beginnings. there are the kind that you plan, that you anticipate, that you relish. when i arrived in paris to study for the semester, when i moved into my first apartment, when i met some of my best friends, those were all occasions that sent my tummy soaring. those were the beginnings that thrilled me.

then, there are the beginnings we face only because the ending came too quickly. breaking up with someone right as i felt like i was getting to know him, looking for another place to live because my landlord lost all grips of reality, having to do new work because the person in charge packed up her things and snuck out the back door, those hit me like bricks. i blinked and everything has already changed.

that's how i feel, i guess. i'm faced with this blinding possibility and endless space, and it is hard to know what to do with that. there are all these If's that taunt me, and most of the Then's that answer them are more bad than good.

i almost typed i can't help it, although i'm sure i could, if i really tried.

i think of my mother, who has become her mother, who can find worry in the smallest things. i hear my father reply to them with a you're-being-so-silly smile. my mother, the perpetual pessimist. my father, the eternal optimist. and me, stuck somewhere inbetween.

oh, what does it matter, anyway? if i focus too much on the before and after, i might miss the during.

right now, i am sitting in bed, wrapped up in the star-covered quilt my godmother made for me when i graduated college. i am listening to elliott smith. i am thinking of all the things i want to do this weekend. i am on the verge of a smile.

and thus wrote christine on 2/15/2002. +

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