Two weeks ago I took a practice flight to Portland to help overcome my anxiety. I’ve written a post about how the flights there and back to Seattle went. However, it’s one of those super-vulnerable, heavy posts and I just don’t feel ready to publish it yet.
The long story short is that I cried in the airport because I was scared I couldn’t fly alone, since the last time I flew alone was almost exactly two years prior. The gate agent helped me by walking me down, introducing me to the pilots and flight attendants, and as a team they gently encouraged and distracted me until I was in my seat and we were taking off. Half-way through their pep talks I took half of a Xanax. I was very impressed with their ability to convince me that it was all OK and their kindness to speak to a 31 year old grown ass woman as she cried like a little kid. Once take-off was over, I was calm.
The way back to Seattle was significantly smoother. I had to breathe through the waiting and the take-off, but I didn’t cry and didn’t doubt that I could do it. Once we were in the air, the feelings of anxiety left, even though I hadn’t taken anything. I’ve noticed that seems to be the case. While I check in with how I’m feeling throughout a flight, the symptoms of anxiety and panic dissipate as soon as the plane is done with takeoff and moving in the right general direction. That’s been true on the flights where I’ve needed medication, and the flights where I’ve felt OK, then didn’t feel OK, and had to manage my breathing and thoughts. On the flights where I’ve been fine through the whole process, the remainder of the flight has likewise been fine.
The purpose of this experiment/resolution/goal was to re-build my confidence. I hope I’m getting there because in March I’ve been told I have to go to DC for work. I had hoped to have a layover in the middle, but no such luck. I’m currently pep-talking myself that I can do it, it will be great, and I WILL take the medication no matter what. I am too hard on myself. I would never tell a friend to try it out and just see how she does, especially on a longer flight. Luckily, I won’t be going there alone so I also have some safe people who can give me pep-talks if I need an outside perspective. Also, I would be significantly more stressed out than I am right now if it weren’t for my practice flight to Portland.
The best thing about the practice flight is that I was going to a city where one of my best friends from law school lives with her awesome husband! Plus, Portland is just an awesome city with great culture, food and things to do!
I booked a hotel room using RocketMiles (affiliate link). I had never heard of it, but they partner with Alaska Airlines, and there was a 2,000 mile bonus if you booked your first hotel within 30 days of creating an account. I stayed at the Aloft Hotel at Cascade Station for a great price of $109/night and earned 3,000 flight miles!
The hotel was SUPER COOL. I’m a big fan of hip hotels and even more of a sucker for hip hotel bars. The Aloft is perfect for that vibe. Unfortunately, by the time I got back to my room on Saturday night, I was too tired to check out the bar. But in the morning, I hung out in their lobby and loooved it!
I arrived at about 11 AM with a 3 PM check-in. I figured I’d ask if they had a room available, and if not, ask them to store my bag. But to my surprise, a room was ready. I was so stoked to be able to lay down for a few minutes and then freshen up before heading out to the city.
From the Aloft, I took a car-share ride to Powell’s Books. It was $18. I had an awesome conversation with the driver about how the Checks & Balances system of the US works. This was pretty soon after the Executive Order on immigration was issued, and questions were on a lot of people’s minds. It was neat to be able to help someone understand the Court’s role in the constitution.
I arrived at Powell’s around 11:45 and I was starving. At first, I started to check my Yelp app, but then I figure I’d just walk around. After a few minutes of peeking down the nearby streets, Slice caught my eye. I looked up it’s rating on Yelp and it had great reviews. If you go one door down from the main entrance, there’s a bar where you can order pizza and an adult beverage. I stopped in there, ordered a slice of pizza and a cider at the bar, and grabbed a seat by the window. I saw a couple eating their slices and they were big, so I only ordered one. I regretted it after I was done because it was delicious and I was a lot hungrier than I’d realized.
While I waited, I worked on writing some of the letters in my four year plan. I sent out a handful of post cards from my Lara Casey Faith & Encouragement set. This one, I sent to Secretary Clinton.
After I finished lunch, I addressed the post cards, put them back in my purse, and headed to Powell’s. I had one book on my list (these are affiliate links): Glass Castle for my book club. Despite buying it in advance, I had the wrong date in my head for my book club meeting and won’t finish it in time. I thought it was next week, but it’s this week. Oops! I plan to still read it though, because I really enjoy this author’s writing. I also bought this Bad Girls Throughout History book, and these Oh Shit sticky notes, which just cracked me up and were like $3.
I had dinner plans with one of my best friends from law school and her husband, also a dear friend of mine, but those were still several hours away. So I checked out the Buffalo Exchange (no luck), and popped into a coffee shop. This coffee shop had an ultra-hipster vibe, one of those, “we don’t serve white chocolate” kind of places. There were no espresso machines that I could see. There were no menus on the wall. It was a little disorganized behind the counter. The tables were small, and the bar was long. I wanted to take a photo of the cafe and behind the bar, but there was no discrete way to do so. A lot of people were hanging out both inside and outside of the shop, drinking coffee and socializing so I figured it would be a good place to stop in.
The vibe was awesome. The coffee was terrible.
Luckily, it still had caffeine in it, and it gave me the boost of energy I needed when my friends picked me up. We hung out at their house for awhile, which I just love because it’s decorated perfectly and has awesome character. Then we went to a place called Wayfinder Beer to get apps before our dinner reservations. Wayfinder looked like the PERFECT place to hang out during the summer. The weather was really nice, especially given the snopocalypse winter Portland has had, so a lot of people were eating and drinking on their huge outdoor patio. We sat inside and there was tons of seating with wide open windows. This sun-deprived Seattle girl was in heaven.
Wayfinder is even kid friendly, which surprised me given the awesome atmosphere. A lot of places around me like that are definitely not kid friendly, which means that some of my friends with small children can’t come hang out. We ended up having so much fun, that we cancelled our dinner reservations and just ate the apps we selected and ordered another round of drinks.
After Wayfinder, we headed to a bar called Paydirt. Paydirt is in a space that’s shared with a couple of other restaurants and bars called The Zipper. You can stay in the bar, or go to the common eating area. This seemed like the perfect place to go if your friends are craving different types of food. You can even bring your alcohol into the common eating/drinking area! They had long tables, so all you had to do was pick your perfect spot and relax! It was so fun getting to spend quality time with my friends that I haven’t seen in wayyyy too long, especially considering the fact that I can drive to Portland in about 2 1/2 hours. The discomfort on the flight was totally worth it, and I was so glad that I got on the plane.
We shared a car back to their house, and then I took one to my hotel. Like I said above, I planned to have a drink in the hotel bar, but by the time I got home it was about 10:30 and I was exhausted from being up since 6 AM. I promptly fell asleep with the TV on in the super comfortable bed. I read a review on Travelocity from a guest there who said they were charged for watching TV. I don’t know what channel they were watching… but I was definitely not charged. If you have a movie on your computer you want to watch instead, they had a box to plug in an electronic device and watch it on the huge TV! That was so cool! I didn’t use it, but it seemed like something that would totally come in handy if I was staying for more than one night or had started a movie on the plane and wanted to finish it.
My flight left at 1:30 the next day so I was hoping to sleep in, but no luck. I woke up around 7:30 and got ready. The shower and bathroom were really nice. Of course, they weren’t luxury marble or anything, but the tile was pretty and both were very spacious. I loved the way it all flowed together. The coffee was on a shelf with a built in closet. I loved the way it was laid out. At first glance, you didn’t even notice it was a closet. I am constantly amazed at how designers can make even the smallest spaces look large and functional lately. If only my closet at home was the same way!
The room had both a refrigerator and a microwave. If you’re trying to save money while traveling, or have leftovers from an incredible meal, you know how awesome this is! Because I was there for only about 24 hours, I didn’t make use of these amenities, but I wish every hotel room had them! I was hungry for breakfast and had some blogging to do, so I took my iPad downstairs. They have a really cool make-your-own breakfast thing. You can fill it out on a sheet of paper, or just tell the person at the front desk. There are options on what you want the breakfast to come in (bread, tortilla, etc), what you want inside, and then there are a ton of different sauces that are free with it. I turned in my order, sat down in the lobby and people watched while I wrote and waited. The wrap came out and it was SO GOOD! Also, while I was waiting, a couple walked by with a full sized bird in a huge cage. Um, what? These are the things you can only experience if you leave your hotel room and hang out in the lobby!
I got an entire post written while I relaxed downstairs, before I went back up to pack and get ready. The 11 AM checkout was perfect for my flight home. I went downstairs and expected a long wait for the FREE airport shuttle, but there wasn’t one! The driver was right there and she was so nice! The ride to the airport was only a few minutes, and before I knew it, I was back on that famous green carpet, ready to head home.
Even though I was nervous to get there, and originally glad it was for only one night because I was so worn out from work and other travel, I was really bummed to be leaving already! I love the city of Portland! It has so much culture, the best people watching, and incredible food. Plus, there’s really something special about getting to spend time with some of your best friends. Law school was hell on earth. I hated almost every day of it for three years straight. But you create bonds with people in that situation that you wouldn’t have anywhere else. My friends from there know me at my absolute worst, because I truly believe law school (and I’d guess other high intensity programs like med school, etc) bring out the worst of your character, but we all stood by each other and held each other up. How fitting was it, then, that my friend I ran into in the airport and encouraged me to get on the plane was also a gal from law school. At the end of this post, I’m just now seeing a theme. :)
I posted a photo on instagram last night talking about this in a little more detail. I’m flying again soon for work. It’s not a 46 minute flight and it’s not a 24 hour trip. I’m nervous. But I’m also excited for the opportunity for additional professional growth and seeing an amazing city. We can overcome fear.
Today I have two questions for you:
What is your favorite city to visit?
What is the fear you’re going to conquer in 2017?