Happiness is attractive (methinks).

I’m sure it’s probably more relevant to be writing about my amazing adventures on my all-expense paid trip to Bahamas, but what I’m actually intending to write about is something that came up for me during that trip and especially my return from it.

First of all, no one hits on a girl who’s with a dude. Let me repeat that: NO ONE. Someone talked to me just about every single time my male companion stepped away for a minute, but never once while in his presence. I think I actually scared the customs agent when I very explicitly corrected what he began to say with, “he is NOT my boyfriend.” He became very defensive, which seemed strange for a customs agent.

Anyway, traveling with someone else always has its ups and downs, but one of the things I had mixed feelings toward was the constant chatting with others. Some moments I loved it, some I hated it. Ultimately, I was grateful we found a couple to hang out with just about every day and their company was great. (I’ve even been talking to myself with an accent because I loved the one that the female had and couldn’t stop talking to her just to hear it, along with the witty and funny things she said.) It seemed all too perfect that I was also finishing up reading “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed while on this trip, because I got to the part (spoiler alert?) where she noted that everywhere she went people wanted to help her and loved her energy and enthusiasm and warm and inviting nature. I found myself thinking, “that’s why I’d never survive doing something like hiking the Pacific Crest Trail; that’s not how the real world works.” Shortly thereafter, I realized I was absolutely incorrect.

I meet a ridiculous amount of people in my daily life and I ultimately choose which of those people I let farther into my world than a smile in passing. As a man I later learned was named Doug announced his presence as he sat next to me in the airport bar, I gave him half of my attention and returned to reading “A Zombie Christmas” on my Kindle. When he then answered a call and spent what felt like 9,000 minutes repeating the same statement that “money wasn’t an issue” and to “just ask Charlie for money if I’m not back in time; he has money in his pocket,” I started figuring out if I wanted to do a shot or close out my check. I asked for neither. What I ultimately learned was that Doug was waiting on a flight to Miami, then to Newark to return to Sandy Hook, NJ where he (owns? manages? works as a dishwasher in?) a restaurant, and that he was returning from a major fishing event in Havana, Cuba. Doug not only described his trip and the state of the communist island, but he also showed me roughly 300 pictures, including those with some guy named Fisher who found treasure (this would probably be impressive to someone who knows about it), Ernest Hemingway’s grandson, and reportedly Fidel Castro’s son. Doug wasn’t really interested in me or my life, just my connection to NY and how frustrating Philadelphia can be. He made sure to mention that “the guys” asked him to bring $10,000 with him because the gas was siphoned from their boats in Cuba and he was joining them later in their trip. Was I doing my own bit of psychoanalyzing? Sure, it’s impossible to turn it off completely. However, I was also likening him to my late Godfather, John, who probably would have looked, sounded, and spoke exactly the same as my new friend Doug. It struck something in me and despite all of the things I believed were a little bit sad about his man, I developed a soft spot for him. And I can safely say that I will almost definitely shoot him an email a day or two prior to driving out to Sandy Hook, NJ to stop by for lunch on a beach day.

Fast forward 24 hours. I have to physically go to the bank to deposit my loan check because it’s too large for a mobile deposit (life is so hard). While waiting in line for a teller, I glance back at an employee at a desk for all of a moment and the thought of inquiring about an auto loan, which I later learned is just a personal loan, crossed my mind. After my transaction instead of running back across the street to work I stopped to ask the gentleman who I should speak to about said loan. He responded that he was the guy for the job and I sat down to explain my situation. It was all business at first: how much I wanted to borrow, where I worked, my driver’s license, etc. It was relatively boring, so I began to take note of things. The tattoo sticking out of the bottom of this man’s jacket sleeve. The name on his business card, which I immediately knew would be too difficult for me to remember. Fortunately, in that moment our conversation evolved into a more personal one and we casually discussed the amount of outstanding graduate school debt I had, my awesome self-made work hours, and as many conversations are wont to do with me, at least one of my tattoos. As it turns out, Ken, which is what he calls himself instead of that long name I clearly was correct in not remembering, also has a finger tattoo, is also terrified of getting a side tattoo, and is also in graduate school working towards an expensive fancy piece of paper. Ken was personable; he was easy to talk to and he even offered up ideas for finding myself a good deal on a Jeep. The conversation was so fluid over the 20 or so minutes we sat together, that Ken scribbled his cell phone number on the back of his card before he gave it to me, mentioned that he did so, and commented that we should “get a drink, while he can still afford to,” which was a perfect conclusion to our lamenting conversation about being broke in the near future. Of course I’ll call Ken at work on Friday to check the status of my loan, but I might also just take him up on that offer for a drink, because he really did seem like some good company, and I really need to learn to assert myself with guys and that could be some great practice.

So why am I rambling on and on about a few dudes in very different places? Mostly because I feel like people want to talk to me more and I, in turn, want to talk to them more too. I had a very difficult summer last year and I was pretty sad for a while. Not that I don’t continue to have my moments, but generally, I am mindful of the things that make me happy and really…it’s a lot of things. Maybe it’s not that–maybe it’s not that a lot of things make me happy, but that I try to find the happy in things. Truth be told I blame my #100HappyDays challenge because it forced me to find something good about each day. They say practice makes perfect, and I was inadvertently practicing finding the happy in things just by doing a narcissistic social media challenge. I could be wrong and just as many people may talk to me now as they did before and I’m just more receptive; that might truly be the difference. It just really feels like people pick up on my “energy and enthusiasm and warm and inviting nature” and they want to be around me and talk to me and help me. I have come from a place where these things don’t feel right or come easy for me, so as much as I mentally (and verbally) complain about them at times, I’m also slowly learning to appreciate them.

I recently began reading “The Silver Linings Playbook” and the line that Pat repeats often in the book (spoiler alert?) is that he’s practicing doing what is kind instead of what is right. It seems a really important distinction between the two, and it feels a lot like one of the many keys to happiness. I was once friends with someone who intentionally hurt other people. Even though it was mostly on the internet, there was just something about it that didn’t sit right with me and I could never place it. As I finish reading this book over the course of 24 hours, I realize that that’s the thing: I want to surround myself with people who want to do what is kind instead of what is right. I want to be a person that does what is kind instead of what is right. So, as ever, I remain, a work in progress.

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