I think it’s safe to promise that most, if not all of these updates will be written in airports. I’m in LAX currently, sitting at Southwest gate 17B, a full hour before flight departure, like a senior citizen. I have zero faith in this airport’s novel strategies for getting people onto planes, especially with the governmental temper tantrum that has the TSA overworked, if not understaffed. At any other airport, I usually slide up to the security line around boarding time, and jump onto the wheel as the plane takes off. They say time is money, but I feel like that under-values time. Only for a godforsaken hellscape like LAX will I wake up extra early and waste a couple of precious hours, just to avoid the risk of torture in the form of rescheduling a Monday morning flight after being stuck on an unexpected 45 minute packed bus ride across the tarmac to get to some ramshackle pop-up gate tucked away in some dark, distant corner as part of the seemingly eternal LAX renovation project.

I haven’t been home to OC in forever. Spent the weekend in Palm Springs, for the Paradise Roadshow. I’d scored a free room at the Saguaro, and Jillian had scored a free rental on a white Mustang convertible. So we rode out to that Saturday morning with Madison and Isley, two of our favorite animals. Most of the trip was spent hanging in and around the hotel with a big group of friends that were out there. Lots of laughs, lots of good music. Mads played us a pop song she had just written and recorded, and it’s been stuck in all of our heads.

As an undercover introvert, though, what I remember and value most from this weekend was the deep conversation on the road trips there and back with Gilligan and Mads. At one point, we stopped at a BJ’s in Moreno Valley, or somewhere near there. And we sort of found ourselves taking turns venting little frustrations. And two things struck me as we did so.

First, as I unloaded my share, I could feel the little storm clouds that had been swirling in my brain dissipating. The wind and the turmoil calmed down a little. It was almost as if we were all leaving our bullshit in LA. And I wondered if something deep inside us had known to do this, knew that this needed to be done. I started to see it as a sort of bodily function, a metaphysical flushing out of accumulated grime from our systems. I started to see it as a necessary preparation for any proper celebration or large social gathering. I think it made us ever-so-slightly better, happier versions of ourselves. I appreciate having friends that I can do this with, and I want to make sure that we don’t neglect this responsibility to ourselves and each other.

Second, this discussion brought us to an interesting point. The quality of a relationship can’t always be reduced to a binary “bad” or “good.” They can start or end as one or the other, but in between there’s that gradual progression. And in that space in between, it’s hard to tell if things are getting better, or worse, or if you should continue to work on the relationship, or cut your losses. This is something we’ve all struggled with. Whoever might be reading this, I’m willing to bet you have, too.

It’s a simple idea, albeit dubiously capitalist, but every relationship comes with a net cost, emotionally and mentally. Some are more taxing than others. An expensive relationship may be worth its cost some days. Other days, you might simply be unable to afford it. And if you’re lucky, a few are free. But it helps to be aware of your budget, and to not be ashamed to spend it on (or save it for) whomever you like. What you don’t want to do is put yourself into debt for the sake of others.

The big implication here though is that we should be more aware of not only what our relationships are costing us, but our own price tags. We shouldn’t expect others to pick up the tab every time, and we shouldn’t feel guilty when we can’t justify doing it ourselves.


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