A few months ago I went on my very first Tinder date. We met at a cafe and quickly decided to do something else. Instead of smooching with a cute Seattleite in a movie theater as the screams of two white preteens played in the background, the date went something like this.
A few minutes into the film:
Tinder Boy: Hey, um, I’ve gotta go for a sec.
Ryant: Yeah, okay. See ya soon.
As more time passed, I found myself diving into the portal that comes after splitting a weed brownie with a cute boy before a sadistic film about naked old people scratching at walls. My hands began to sweat and in the dark of the movie theater I thought, “Can you die from being high? I need better first date ideas.”
I laughed during a gory scene in the movie to replace my anxiety. I laughed even more as I got down on my hands and knees in Sundance Cinemas’ bathroom to make sure my date hadn’t died in a bathroom stall. I laughed as I walked away after asking the snappy food counter girl if she’d seen a tall white male with a haircut like David Beckham.
“Dude, that’s every white boy in this damn city.” she responded.
I then had a weed blackout similar to the one I’d had two summers prior in San Francisco, so after sitting through the rest of the movie I went home and took a nap.
I share this story not as a cautionary tale about the evils of legalized weed, but to exhibit the extremes I go to when trying to bond with people outside of college.
Gone are the days of strolling down Court Street and being late to class because you stopped to have conversations with so many people. Instead my mornings consist of dragging myself out of my overpriced Seattle apartment, running to catch the E-Line downtown and wishing I exercised more.
While I was unemployed and poor for two months, I was pent up in my apartment, binge watching episodes of Scandal and balancing Tostitos Pizza Rolls on my nose. But when I was in sync with the world around me, I went to activism meetings, practiced a shitty British accent in a Vancouver hostel, and generally opened up to people more.
The reality is that the connections we hold close influence the way that we live. Life after college can be socially debilitating at times, but how else do I understand the world more deeply if I don’t take risks and learn from them? How else could I have befriended a former exotic dancer while taking the Greyhound to Montana or have the opportunity to go to a rave in the Canadian wilderness next month?
When we make life about sharing moments with people and radically loving them, it feels good. Although it’s not easy to befriend people in large, bougie cities, I trust those same connections that gave me the courage to go out into the world in the first place. Upon moving to Seattle, I found myself overwhelmed by all of the cement, rain, and crowds. I had left a small southern Ohio town to be one of many on the other side of the country. When apprehension overtook me, I’d resort to confiding in friends from other parts of my life. Group texts, Skype sessions, long phone calls, and a decent amount of wine held me over as I began to wrap my head around the gray urban jungle around me.
Seattle soon began to feel more comfortable. I would roam the labyrinth of downtown streets, appreciating the warm days and taking up whatever opportunities I could find. I began to appreciate how little decisions can lead to large realizations. Introducing myself to a girl named Poppy at a meeting could lead to a friendship that’s inspired me to travel. Sharing a cigarette with a stranger outside of an open mic night in Capitol Hill can lead to a night of bar crawls and laughter that rivals any nostalgia that Macklemore’s “Cowboy Boots” speaks to.
Without a little risk and mischief, how would we have any worthy stories to tell?