With Ron’s travel schedule for work and my rehearsal/performance schedule, we don’t tend to make much time to go do fun things together unless we’re away on an official vacation.  We used to do fun stuff all the time- for almost a year when we were first together, we got the newspaper’s guide to the best breakfast places in Portland and tried one new restaurant every single week.  We bought a book of hiking trails and from late summer to late fall we tried a new hike out every weekend.  It was something we both looked forward to, and was a way for us to reconnect every week, despite our busy schedules.

But lately, with money being stressful, Ron’s travel schedule taking him away from home for weeks at a time, and me hustling for acting work, we have been in an extended “no fun” zone.  We do have some television shows we routinely watch together, and sometimes we’ll pay a couple bucks to watch a movie via On Demand at home.  I actually get out to see a lot of plays for free due to a committee I serve on, but Ron is not much of a theatre lover, so I usually go alone or with one of my girlfriends.  We both love going to the movies and out to dinner, but with what we’re trying to do financially right now, to splurge like that seems counterproductive.

Almost a year ago, while I was doing a show with my dear friend Maureen, she gave me two free passes to the Japanese Gardens in Portland, where she was working at the time.  For a few months they were buried in the rubble on my desk, and then I finally moved them to the cork board in our office so I would remember to use them.  And last weekend, starved for some fun on a no fun allowed budget, our eyes fell on the tickets, and we decided to go.


En route – thanks Maureen!

It’s easy, when you live somewhere, to take for granted what your city has to offer.  Tourists to Portland probably see and experience so much more of the city than I do, because they are looking at it through such different eyes.  The Japanese Gardens were FULL of tourists – snapping pictures and gazing at the quiet beauty.  Watching them inspired me to slow down, really look around, and take some pics of my own.

Right now,  it wouldn’t occur to me to take $20 and do anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary and boring, like paying a bill.  But thanks to Maureen’s kind gift, we got out of the house and did something fun, for free.  We spent time together.  We sat by a koi pond in the spring sunshine.  It was really lovely.

We have a few other gift certificate/free pass type stuff that’s just been sitting idle, probably about to expire.  I think we’ve been saving them for “when we really need them.”   I’m pretty sure this grim, penny pinching phase we’re in is definitely the right time for us to use them.