Seattle, Tempe, and Me: A Torrid Love Triangle

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Well, it’s about that time. At ASU, the students have moved in and football season is imminent. Tempe Leadership’s new class reports in less than three weeks. My besties are texting to ask when I’ll be home.

Meanwhile, in Seattle, it hasn’t started raining yet but the mornings are getting chillier and chillier.

And, yet, I have zero motivation to pack up my Subaru and meander south for winter. I’m having a great time – from Shakespeare, music, and movies in Seattle’s parks to amazing camping on the rivers of the Cascade Mountains and the beaches of Olympic National Park.

Still, winter is coming which leaves me in a quandary. I’m in love with this damn place. I’m also in love with my home.

As I imagine may occur with a torrid love triangle, the relationship can get a bit complicated – and perhaps never so much so as this summer.

How Seattle Became My Side Piece

I fell in love with Seattle during my first visit back in 2011. I was so enamored that on the final day of my trip, I asked my cousin back home how much she thought I could rent my house for.

Seattle seemed to offer a life that I couldn’t have in Tempe.

I didn’t follow through. Bulbstorm was at its peak and I wasn’t ready to give up on what we were building.

When I returned on my first Meander in 2013, the city once again greeted me with open arms.

Alas, I’d never been outside Maricopa County for more than 11 consecutive days. By the time I had arrived in Seattle, I had been on the road for two months. By the time I’d hit my 100th day, I was restless in Seattle and ready to get home.

I returned in 2014 with my heart open to making Seattle home. I even rented an apartment. When my grandfather went on hospice in mid-September, I knew it was time once again to return to Tempe.

How I Rekindled My Flame for Tempe

After my initial tryst with Seattle in 2011, my counselor gave me some awesome advice. If I think there’s a certain life I’d have in Seattle, start building a similar life in Tempe now in case I never actually move.

The Eclipse reached 98 percent totality at Olympic National Park.

Over the next few years, I joined Tempe Leadership, co-founded PHX Startup Week, helped scale #yesphx, and joined the Humane Society’s Arizona leadership team. I worked to find ‘Zonies who wanted to camp, or see live music, or play board games. I invested in key relationships and organized movie clubs, house parties, and cabin trips.

On my Meanders in 2014 and 2015, it never occurred to me to settle down in Seattle. They were just short flings with an old lover. I was committed to building my relationship with home.

This year was different. With my relationship with Tempe rekindled, I once again opened my heart to Seattle. I arrived in early July and rented an apartment through mid-September.

It’s felt great to be back in the arms of my lost love … even if it’s meant cheating on Tempe.

Two Cities at the Same Time, Man

But, yeah, winter. A few weeks ago, I booked a flight home to attend to time-sensitive business before returning to Seattle to begin a slow Meander south.

When I looked at my atlas, though, I wasn’t inspired. I could push past 80 National Park Service units with a swing through Idaho. I could do a more remote park like Great Basin in Nevada. Nothing got me excited.

Eventually, I decided against the back-and-forth flights and slower Meander south. I leave Seattle on Saturday. I should be in Tempe within a week.

It’s not that I don’t want to go home. I just don’t want to drive there. I don’t have wanderlust. I don’t want to be everywhere. I just want to be with Seattle … and with Tempe … basically at the same time.

When asked what he would do if he had a million dollars, Office Space’s Lawrence replied: “I’ll tell you what I’d do, man. Two chicks at the same time, man.”

Well, I don’t have a million dollars. Fortunately, I don’t need that much.

Maybe I’m not cheating on Tempe or on Seattle. Maybe they’re both just a little freaky like me. Maybe I just need to make them an offer.

I don’t know the exact pronunciation but I believe it’s: Ménage à trois.

Think they’d be into it?

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Sitting in the fear in the summer heat

I was up until 2 a.m. this morning prepping for a third meander that seemed unlikely just six hours earlier. Forget the flight to Seattle I had booked for next week. I threw together last summer’s meander in days. I could prep for this one in hours and be on the California coast by sundown.

Why? Because I got dumped last night.

I suppose the breakup wasn’t entirely unexpected. It’s been a trying few weeks. I’ve caught myself breathing deeply to calm my nerves throughout recent workdays and I was pretty sure it wasn’t due to work stress.

I responded by returning to my yoga mat, doubling down on my journaling, and even resuming my spiritual reading. (I tore through Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl in two sittings!)

In the end, I was proud of how I showed up in the relationship.

On the road again

phoenix south mountain sunset

Phoenix summers aren’t so bad once the sun goes down.

Now, my car is sitting in the driveway halfway packed. My camping gear is organized and ready to roll. But, at around 2 a.m., with the adrenaline of an unexpected opportunity to meander exhausted, I ran out of steam.

I tried to psych myself up this morning. After all, I could be on the coast by nightfall and (after a few days of work) among the Redwoods by end of week.

I resumed packing. I laid clothes out on the bed. I emptied my kitchen cabinets.

My second wind lasted about 10 minutes. My heart just wasn’t in it. I didn’t want to spend the next two days driving through the California desert. I didn’t want to spend the next two weeks alone on the road. (Although there’s no better place to face the fear of being alone than on a long solo trip.)

I chose instead to indulge the conclusions that I reached at the end of my spring break solo trip to Arches.

I wanted to tie up loose ends at work, including a fun temp gig with a hospitality tech startup. I wanted to see through some awesome planned social events like my going away party – which just wouldn’t be the same without the guy who’s going away.

And I wanted to process this loss properly rather than running into a Redwood forest and away from the fear of being alone.

A Sign from Above

I heard someone say once that if God wanted to send him a message he hoped it was delivered with a two-by-four. As if my lack of energy for a third meander wasn’t a clear enough sign, my car failed to start this morning when I attempted to drive to Cartel to write this blog post.

I biked instead. It was hot.

Some people think I hate Phoenix summers. I’ll admit that they’re not ideal. However, I do love weekend mornings in air-conditioned yoga studios and coffee shops, amazing sunsets on bike rides around Tempe Town Lake, and the smell of the desert during monsoon season.

I haven’t been in Arizona during a monsoon since 2012. It’ll be nice to finally experience that magical time of year again.

Of course, monsoon season won’t be in full swing until August. Fortunately, I can wait for its arrival in Seattle. I’ll just get there like most people would this year – by airplane.

seattle skyline from kerry park

A decent place to wait for monsoon season …

One foot in front of the other while I wait for an answer

I spontaneously decided to hike South Mountain late this afternoon. I did it because there was nothing else left for me to do. I’m ready to commit to plans for the summer, but life is telling me I have to wait.

To meander or not to meander? That is the question.

I researched new routes to Seattle last weekend. I touched based with a few road trip buddies. I put feelers out for someone to watch my house while I’m gone. I even set a return date of early August (though admittedly that was mostly a result of ASU publishing its Camp Tontozona schedule).

And then I discovered a temporary opening for a wannabe digital marketer like me. It’d be an incredible opportunity to learn from some of the best marketers in town. It’s an opportunity I wouldn’t pass up, even if it meant a summer of rush hour traffic and triple-digit temperatures.

I interviewed on Thursday. I was told I’d hear back Friday. My phone never rang.

So, now I wait. If I get the gig, I’ll spend the next three months in Phoenix. In August, I’ll mini-meander with a friend through southeast Utah’s national parks. Then, I’ll follow the ASU football team to Albuquerque and Boulder with art stops in Santa Fe and Taos.

If I don’t get the gig, I’ll leave for Burbank in early May and slowly work my way up the Pacific Coast Highway to Seattle. This year, I intend to zigzag less and sit still more. I’m especially interested in spending more time in small towns where I can work, practice yoga, and get a feel for the community.

Which will it be? I have no idea. And that’s a bit frustrating.

Alas, life doesn’t provide the answers on my timeline. There were times during last summer’s meander that I was confused, or lonely, or just in good ol’ fashioned pain. But I learned that I can always kill a few hours climbing a mountain while I wait for tomorrow. One foot in front of the other …

A saguaro at sunset in South Mountain

After 100 days on the road, I’m restless in Seattle

Seattle greeted me with open arms when I arrived on July 5. In my first 48 hours in the city, I reacquainted with my cousin and her family, found a great yoga studio, and saw two concerts including Robert Plant. What a reception!

No city could keep up that pace. Two years ago, I was ready to move to Seattle. Today, I’m ready to go home. I’m very aware of missing things like my Tempe Leadership class’s first reunion, two of my closest friends’ last nights in Arizona, and the start of Camp Tontozona.

Desert rat in snow at Mt Baker

There’s gotta be a desert here somewhere …

Of course, I’m making the most of my time here. I absolutely love this area! I’ve seen the Seattle sights with my mom, camped twice in the North Cascades, and enjoyed quiet time connecting with my cousin’s family and doing a ton of yoga.

I know what some of you are thinking. Boo frickin’ hoo.

Most of you are sweltering in triple-digit temperatures. You’re reading this post while sitting in your cubicle. You quite understandably think that I’m on a hella long vacation.

I totally get that. It’s hard to define this experience in terms I’d have recognized six months ago. I mean, what the hell is a sabbatical anyway? As I approach my 100th day on the road, it’s quite clear that it is not a vacation. It’s a lifestyle – and not one that I’d choose to live long-term.

No girl. No gig. Just the road. That mantra carried me through an action-packed, spiritually-charged, growth-fostering, two-month drive from San Diego to Seattle. But now? Meh.

No gig? Ha! I love my career. Breakfast with a former coworker in Portland reminded me how much I miss wrapping my mind around a good puzzle.

No girl? Well, I really really dug a girl in Phoenix. Goodbye was a prerequisite for this trip and all the benefits it’s delivered. But goodbye was NOT easy.

Now, after nearly 100 days on the road, it’s time to get back to the gig. And the girl. And ASU football. And my favorite city in the world. And my own bed and kitchen. And all of you.

I’m leaving Seattle on August 26 for a week in the Olympics followed by a short layover in Central Washington. I’ll be at Glacier National Park in Montana by September 8 and Yellowstone in Wyoming by September 15. From there, I’m heading straight down the Colorado-Utah border toward Tempe (with short stops at Dinosaur National Monument and Arches).

That means no Denver and Rocky Mountain National Park. No Salt Lake City and Bryce Canyon and Zion.

Estimated date of arrival: September 28. Right in time to watch my Sun Devils trounce Southern Cal. Right in time for Tempe to wake from its summer slumber.

Until then, I’m stuck on sabbatical. But, if you gotta be stuck somewhere, sabbatical is the place to be. After all, the weather and the views are fantastic!

seattle skyline from kerry park

A decent view until I get home …