Revolution Brewery Pizza and Pretzel


This was me in high school.

Val was the most unique girl in her class.

I’ve been wanting to find an excuse to post that for a while, but I didn’t want anyone to think I’m stuck back in 1999 or something. Because I’m not.

I mean, I’m not going to say that high school were the best years of my life. Because God that would be pathetically depressing. (And, you know, because my 30s have been pretty damn amazing). But I’m not going to say that I had a miserable high school experience either. Because God that would be depressing too.

I guess I had a pretty average high school experience if you look at it. My senior year I was the lead in my school play and in choir and speech team and the dance company, I was in all AP or honors or arts classes. So, I guess that’s something. But I also went through the four years nearly dateless (I had my first date ever 3 weeks before the end of my senior year), awkward, unsocial, and sometimes made fun of for being the weird one. And boys certainly didn’t like me. Except, I guess, the one that finally asked me out. Who then, you know, broke up with me to go out with my former friend a year later.

But I digress.

The real reason I post that photo is three-fold.

1. To prove that I’ve always been the weird one. The one who always does her own thing. I’m not going to say that I always do it proudly, because I often do it incredibly self-consciously. But I’ve worked on that. And I was weird all the same.

2. Because I didn’t really have any photos to share in this post and we can’t have that now, can we?

3. Because I ran into that guy in the photo on Saturday night.

I met up with Alyssa to go to Revolution Brewing, to get a snack, to drink some beers. After hovering around for fifteen minutes or so we lucked into some stools at the bar. We had a couple of beers, some amazing twice baked potato pizza, and a pretzel that didn’t really matter because all that mattered was that it came with beer cheese dip which was heaven on my tongue.

But I digress. And, I guess, post a relevant photo.

Twice baked potato pizza and a pretzel at Revolution Brewing in Chicago.

After a couple of beers, after asking for the bill, the bartender, the one that Alyssa had pointed out as being the one she always thought was cute, turned to me and said, “Valerie?” And I was like, “yes…” wondering if maybe it was someone who recognized me from my blog or from the Twitter (seriously, that has to happen some day, right?)

But then he said “It’s Pete. We went to high school together.” And I squinted and looked past the sleeves of tattoos and bandana and long hair and said “Oh My God, it is Pete!” Who I haven’t seen in probably over ten years. And that was just pretty cool.

He was also a weird one.

After promising that I’d return some day soon, Alyssa and I went across the street for some cocktails at Cole’s, where we watched a bit of a band with a guitarist playing on what looked to be a toilet seat with a disco ball inside.

And then we headed to The Owl where we people watched and I determined that to go out in Chicago you need to wear a shirt that contains one of the following: a Bulls logo, a Bears logo, a Cubs logo, a White Sox logo, a Blackhawks logo, or plaid.

And I determined that there really aren’t that many attractive guys in Chicago.

Sometimes I wonder why I came home again.

Now, the Owl is a 4am bar. And if there’s one thing you should know about Chicago it is how the bars work. Most of them close at the respectable time of 2am. But some have this special magical license that allows them to be open until 4am. And so most people don’t really go to these bars until after those other ones close. And they are already drunk. And so they are usually meat markets.

And so, when I met a guy at 3am who was nice and from Portland and had tattoos and a hoop through his nostrils I shouldn’t have been surprised when he kept touching my arm and holding my hand and then tried to kiss me when Alyssa and I decided to leave.

And why is it that while traveling this would all seem perfectly normal to me and I would have probably not turned my cheek? But here, in Chicago, at home, it seemed weird? And I didn’t want any part of it? Especially since he was probably way too young because he kept asking me if I was still in school.


In any case, we exchanged numbers before I left.

But now I’m wondering what the etiquette is for contacting a guy you met in a bar is when you don’t really want to kiss him but you would like to hang out with him. Because he seemed cool. And because Portland is my favorite city I’ve never been to. And because I’ve become so used to hanging out with new and different people on a daily basis.

Because I have never in my life exchanged numbers with someone I met in a bar. Or anywhere. Because I’m the kind of girl who guys don’t like.

Or at least that is the kind of girl I am in Chicago.

Before you argue that that’s untrue because you have been following my exploits for the last year you have to remember that I’ve only had two boyfriends in my life and one blind date in the past ten years before I left the country.

Val abroad is an anomaly to me.

And anyways, really, boys seem to want to sleep with me. Or be my friend. Or be my friend and sleep with me. But almost none of them want to date me.

And no one in the United States of America has ever approached me at a bar.

Of course, it is now nearly a week later and I figure this guy just wanted a drunken makeout anyways because he never contacted me anyways.

And that is life.

And now I am rambling for no real reason except that I’m a kind of changed person back in a life I never really understood. And am trying to figure out who I am and where I belong and still wondering why I am 31 and haven’t had a boyfriend in ten years. Because shouldn’t someone out there want a weird girl like me? And because, truthfully, there is a guy out there that I wish would like me, because I like him a lot for all the right reasons, but he doesn’t, and I have to be OK with that. Because I keep falling into fits of “back from travel depression.” Because I am lost. Because some days I wonder why I came back to Chicago. And because some days I wonder why I ever left. Because I don’t know what to do with myself.

And now I’m rambling again.

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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

  • Jaime
    October 26, 2012at9:16 am

    I know it must be hard, but try not to think about it. I wish I could say I can relate, but at the moment I can’t but the minute I get home I just might & then we can help each other cope with the awkwardness of coming home after doing & seeing so much must bring, because after a trip like this we change and I don’t think we will notice until we are back home. Stay strong… and give it time.

  • Marlo
    October 26, 2012at2:36 pm

    I guess we all have our issues but to be honest, you should consider yourself very fortunate that you have the time, money and health to travel for over a year. Neither I nor any other adult that I know has the luxury of being to experience what you have over the past year. Finding our niche is tough but we’ve all seen that you’re a very likeable person. Maybe you’ll meet Prince Charming some place other than Chicago. We all feel awkward and unloved at times but there is always someone worse off than we are so we just have to count our blessings and push on.

  • Jennifer
    November 11, 2012at8:13 pm

    Women who always have boyfriends have low standards or don’t care if they are dating an average uninteresting person (unless, of course, they were lucky and found a good one early.) And everyone just hooks up these days so unless you work with men chances are slim to ever meet anyone for a relationship.

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