Hope and Glory Transcripts

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 Speaker 1: 00:01 Remember, our question that we asked our storytellers this evening was tell us about a time, when was the first time that you were certain where you knew where you were going. Our next storyteller, when I asked her that she said that she was trying to teach wilderness navigation to her friend's 17-year-old daughter and daughter, "got us very, very lost." So, she said, "I broke my own rules and I didn't know where we were until I pulled out my phone and checked the GPS." Everyone, please welcome Alyssa Hursh.

###p00:57 My boyfriend started telling me bedtime stories because insomnia had gotten so bad that I wouldn't even try to fall asleep without having something to listen to. He told one story in particular that I really loved, the story that we had made up together over time, the story of a sloth. A little girl sloth who did not have insomnia.

###p01:22 Every night her friends took her on a magic carpet ride all across the world, but every night she was too sleepy to enjoy the sights. They took her to Egypt and she slept through the pyramids. They took her to Peru and she slept through Machu Picchu.

###p01:41 Every night, he would look at me and he would say, "Where to?" And I would give him a list of destinations. Morocco, Antigua, Antarctica. And he would describe the sights and I would sleep right through it. If there was an end to that story, I never heard it once.

###p01:58 We'd been dating for a while and things were going really well. Almost from the first date I knew he was the one.    Very handsome, very well-dressed, salt and pepper hair. He showed up at my house so often with flowers that I almost got sick of it. We had this really fun and flirtatious dynamic together, even a couple of years in.

###p02:23 And so one morning we were in bed, just wasting the day, and I looked at him and I said, "Wait here." And I came back with a court mason jar and a stack of index cards and I handed him those index cards and I said, "Write a date idea on every one of those cards. We're gonna make a date jar."

###p02:41 The thought was that if we were ever too stuck in a routine or we wanted an adventure but we didn't know what, we would pull an idea out of that jar and we would do whatever it said right then.

###p02:51 We decided that literally anything counted as a date idea, and we also agreed that we wouldn't tell each other what we were writing down. And so we sat on my bed just smirking at each other, writing the most ridiculous things we could come up with. We filled the whole jar.

###p03:07 We did a lot of hiking together. When I hiked with him, I liked to ask him questions, questions about how he was doing, about how we were doing. And one day I asked him if there was anything that was missing for him with us, if there was anything that he needed and he wasn't getting, and he said, "No, no."

###p03:24 He said, "Well, actually, there is one thing. I wish that we watched more television together." Now, I am accommodating and that is a pretty easy request to accommodate.

###p03:38 And so a couple of weeks later we were watching an episode of TV before bed and the episode ended and that Netflix screen came up, the one that says, "Are you still watching?" And I looked at him and I said, "Are we still watching?" And he said nothing.

###p03:54 I said, "Do you wanna watch another episode." He said nothing. I said, "What is going on?" And he said, "I think I need to move to Chicago."

###p04:04 Now, that almost made sense. He had a lot of friends in Chicago, he traveled there really regularly to visit them. But he knew I didn't wanna move to Chicago. My friends, my family, my career, my whole life, was in the Pacific Northwest.

###p04:20 I also got the impression that he wasn't inviting me to come with. But I said, "If you think you need to move to Chicago, then we need to get you there on a trial. Could send you there for four months, spend the summer, see what you think and then we'll figure it out."

###p04:34 He fell asleep first that night. He fell asleep without telling me a story, and he fell asleep with a smile on his face, this smile of relief. And he slept with that smile the whole night, which I know because I did not sleep.

###p04:49 I tossed and I turned looking at him and then looking at my nightstand and sitting on my nightstand, that date jar full of adventures that we hadn't gone on.

###p04:57 The next morning we got up and I got to work helping him make plans. I took photographs of his house and wrote the posting to sublet it on Craigslist. I coached him on talking to his boss about working remotely. I started planning him a going away party. I wanted him to know that he had my unconditional support, no matter what that meant for us, but I wanted that support to be the reason that he came back home to me.

###p05:20 We decided that we wouldn't talk to each other during the summer, because I knew that I couldn't go with him. I knew that I couldn't give up the life that I had built for myself to follow him there. And I wanted him to know what it would be like if he actually left me. So, we decided that we would have one phone call a month while he was gone.

###p05:40 It took about six weeks to get the plans together, and in early May I took him to the airport and dropped him off, and I said, "Have a good summer."

###p05:49 But during the time that I was planning his good summer, I was also planning a good summer of my own. See, I had that jar of date ideas. And I knew that if he didn't come home to me, I didn't wanna get stuck with it. I'm not the kind of person to something like that on fire or throw it in the trash.

###p06:06 I also knew that I wanted to stay busy. I wanted to spend that time with my friends, I wanted to have stuff to do. And I knew that, even though we weren't gonna be in communication with each other, that he was still gonna creep on my social media profiles. I wanted him to see what I was doing and I wanted him to feel like he was missing out.

###p06:31 And so the day he left, I sent an email to 40 of my closest friends and I said ... It's true. I said, "I'm gonna need your help. There are 31 dates in the jar and I have 16 weeks to do every single one."

###p06:52 My best friend, Jen, took the first date. We went swimming in the Columbia River. It was May so it was cold, and the Columbia is not a swimmable river. I wrote that date idea and technically the card said, "Get your head wet in the Columbia," and technically we did.

###p07:14 Date two my friend [Huyt 00:07:15] and I took a card game to the bar where Huyt was dating the bartender. We tapped two strangers on the shoulder and we asked them to play with us.   We played the game, we sat around telling stories, just shooting the shit. It was a really nice night.

###p07:38 Date four, Ellie. A game of horse at the basketball courts in our neighborhood that ended in so much laughter I almost died from not being able to breathe.

###p07:49 Every single one of these dates I thought about him, especially the dates that he had written. But I was busy and I was having fun.

###p07:56 Date seven, Katie and I made strawberry ice cream from scratch. 11, Theresa took me to Jamba Juice. 12, Gillian and I climbed trees in the park.

###p08:04 At that point, we'd had one phone call, he and I. And things were going really well. He'd found a place to live, he'd found a desk in a co-working space. He bought a bicycle and he was using it to get to know the city.

###p08:17 He didn't ask me about the dates that I was going on, but I know that he knew.

###p08:24 15. Shannon. The top of Rocky Butte at sunset with a picture-perfect view of Portland's three volcanoes. We were wearing sparkly capes that I had borrowed from my three and five-year-old neighbors. Again, my date idea.

###p08:40 16. David invited a bunch of his friends over, cooked dinner. They sat in absolute stillness, listening to me tell all of the stories of the dates that I'd been on so far. And then we played Pictionary, that was the date, and then they took me out for ice cream on tandem bicycles.

###p08:59 By that point, we were halfway through the summer. It was July and it was time for our second phone call. I remember the day exactly. I remember being so nervous but so excited to get to hear his voice again. And that evening he called me. I was sitting on my front porch. He called me and he said, "Hi." I said, "Hi." He said, "I'd made a decision. I'm breaking up with you."

###p09:25 I remember feeling like my stomach had fallen out of my body, or my body had fallen into a black hole. I remember thinking, "No." I remember saying, "No." I remember trying to come up with any way to get back out of this conversation. I don't know how we got off that phone call. I remember getting into bed and just crying.

###p09:47 It was a Wednesday. I had plane tickets for Friday, to go to San Francisco to visit a couple of friends and do a couple more dates, and I almost canceled. I thought, "What the hell am I doing? Why am I doing this to myself?"

###p10:02 But I kept those plans and I'm so glad I did. That weekend, my friends passed me from one to the next, like I was a baton in a relay race. My old friend, Rob, picked me up from the airport. Date 17. We spent a defined period of time together in silence. It's a weird date idea, right? But it was really good.

###p10:25 We walked the entire length of the Golden Gate Park from the de Young Museum to the ocean with speaking to each other. Rob is a botanist, and he pulled the leaves off of plants that we passed and cracked them in his fingers and put them under my nose. Rosemary and sages. And when we got to the ocean, we took off our shoes and we put our feet in the sand and I sat down and I put my head on his shoulder and I watched the tide go out.

###p10:54 Rob handed me to Jesse, date 18. Jesse and I put together a pinhole camera. We sat in a coffee shop punching the little pieces out of the dye-cut cardboard, putting it all together, taping it. And then we went around the city, taking panoramic pictures on 35 millimeter film.

###p11:10 The first half of the dates had felt like I had something to prove to myself, or something to prove to him, and the second half of the dates felt like my friends had something to prove to me. You can imagine that I was not sleeping through the night. I felt like death. I wanted to cancel everything. But they wouldn't let me. They kept showing up, saying, "You owe me a date."

###p11:32 20. Laurel and I went to Astoria to see the shipwreck on the coast.

###p11:38 22. [Mattius 00:11:38] and I made a one-minute short movie.

###p11:40 25. Kevin and I pretended to be newlyweds and went house hunting. We argued about where we were gonna put the nursery.

###p11:54 28. Laura and I threw a theme party on one-hour's notice.

###p11:59 30. Liz and I played put-put golf at the art museum.

###p12:04 By then it was September. At that point, he had moved home. And I had exactly one date left in that jar. It was a date that I had been saving for him. It was a date that I couldn't do with anybody else. 31. Write down my bedtime story.

###p12:23 So, I sent him the email and I said, "Will you do this date with me?" And he said yes. We decided to go hiking. He picked me up at my house. We drove out to the Columbia River gorge to the Dog Mountain trailhead. We hiked to the top and we sat on the summit. I pulled out my Jetboil and I made us a cup of tea. He pulled out a notebook and he looked at me and he said, "Where to?"

###p12:48 We started writing down that story. I looked at him and I said, "You know, I actually don't know how this ends." He said, "I've been telling you the ending this whole time. It's just that you were asleep. In the end, Sloth wakes up as if the whole thing was just a dream." I looked at him and I said, "I don't like that ending. That's not my ending. In my ending, there's always room for one more adventure. In my ending, there's always room for a sequel. In my ending, her friends keep showing up."

###p13:28 We hiked back to the car. He drove me home, he dropped me off at my house and that was it. It was over. You don't always get the ending that you wanted.

###p13:40 But I did get a couple of things. I got rid of that date jar and I had the summer I set out to have. 31 dates in 16 weeks. It was a summer full of adventure and a summer full of friends who just kept showing up.

###p14:02 Thank you.

Speaker 1: 14:02 That's Alyssa Hursh everyone.