Then I moved back east, and headed northeast to New York. Yet, in years of moving and shuttling about I forgot and suppressed the memories of where I started. Seattle. All those years ago.
I'm in Oregon for the month, on work and research officially and more so is the resounding reset of me. Pretty much from the moment I exited the Portland Airport a sense of comfort and ease began to settle in on me. One of those moments when you realize you are home . . . in my case it was a home I always knew I had, but along the years I had suppressed it and moved on. In the days since, things have fallen in place like natural kismet, without strenuous effort and with buttered ease.
I started out in Seattle, and we lived in a little house on A Street in Tacoma. Curiosity got the better of me last night, and I looked it up on Google Maps. The subsequent owners have . . . well, the cherry blossom tree that was an infant has now overgrown the block, and the paint is grey--as we had blue--but from the looks of it the siding is all the same. I'd like to think in the decades since they've re-roofed and replaced shingles my Dad and I put up years ago. I remember staying close to him and never looking down from that A-frame roof. The windows . . . my brother and I thought it was so cool to watch them put those in; in all reality it wasn't. We were just young and impressionable. Our little house was blue back then, with a mustard yellow ceiling lamp in the dining area. Odds are that lamp was replaced before we entered the new millennia (or at least I would like to think so!). Though, I'd like to think some of the roses my Dad planted are still populating the back yard, along the fences . . . that backyard was a veritable rose garden. I always loved the tree, especially the memory of it. Tucked away, in photos, I'm sure I'll dig up old ones one day. Just not today.
And, no I won't post a picture of the house. New owners live there and I'm fairly certain they would not be keen on a stranger posting pics to coincide with my memories. Though, it's funny how we reserve a place in our memory and as much as we change and life moves on we never think about the static lives of homes and objects. The condition of the house, with its cracked paint and yard in a scraggly state of affairs, isn't what shocks me so much. More . . . the tree, once tiny and cute, barely providing shade, now needs a trim, a cut, and a tow down as it surpasses the house in height and girth. My brother and I loved that silly tree. Probably because it was so pink when it bloomed, and that no one else had a tree like that . . . well, on that block, back then . . .
When we left Seattle my mother has said I was homesick for three years. That I do believe. That stupid tree . . . the mountains from the front door and the back, the vibrant life of kids on our block, the hill at the other end of the block my brother and I did asinine things on his banana bike on, and just the general atmosphere of life. Beaches that are chilly--or outright cold--and seemingly endless arrays of forests and greenery back by blue skies and white clouds that even when raining there's an ambiance of life and continuity. Then we moved to Texas where you didn't need a sweatshirt on the beach, as the Gulf Coast roared big waves and hot sand, and camping felt like we were just forcing ourselves and intruding on space of rattlesnakes and chitters instead of embracing the rich green forests and lakes with frogs sitting on lily pads. Yea, that was a weekend at Lake Tanwax when we got our first camper. I was fascinated with the Lilly pads and Lilies popping up. My Mom, the hater of all things camping, even came that weekend.
In the years since, there were things I loved about all the places along the way . . . even Mississippi, the place none of us like the least. There I learned a love for muscadines. I'm too far west to get a good haul this year, but--ya know--I'll take marionberries and handcrafted coffee and endless bike rides and a relative peace to my soul in lieu of those jumbo grapes.
For a couple of years now I've been looking to leave NYC. In all reality, I never intended to stay as long as I have. Career sabotage has kept me there that past few years, but these days I'm crafting ways to move on. A part of me will always be a New Yorker, as anyone in Corvallis can tell you that I'm the resident oddball side eyeing anyone who looks too long or stands too close. Yet, yesterday while riding my rented bike (whom I've dubbed Limey) down a hill I didn't realize was that crazy long or steep at the start two bikers with more might than me cheered me along as they laughed at my four lettered bombs exploding in what felt like miles and miles of downhill racing. In all reality, it was half a mile or so, but at the bottom a short and quick conversation had them high fiveing me on my bravado (especially on a Townie bike, not recommended for feats of stupidity yo). Upon finding out I'm a New Yorker, they assured me that Oregon, its coast, and this return to my roots will cure those ills. As one said, "Look, you've already defeated the bike fear!"
In short, I've long thought about heading back west . . . northern Cali and the Pacific Northwest. If I still believed in signs, I would say there are many though sometimes odd, contradictory, and frightening. Yesterday, on the bus to Newport I shared a seat with a woman from Iowa--where I was the week before coming here--and her affirmations of life here, the solitude, the community, the replacement of roots . . . and her belief in signs . . . le sigh. Time will tell, as life is not like the movies and finances and funding a move must be accounted before heading west as we say.
With that in mind, I'm off to write the travel article I'm pitching about the escapes of Limey and me. Yesterday was a bus ride to Newport and my toes in the sand. She served me well on more hills than we probably should have done. Today, between sitting on sidewalks in downtown Corvallis, I'm rolling along the river walk, and letting Limey take me through the environs of downtown. It's Sunday, so the streets are mostly rolled up, but there are enough pedestrians out on this 70 degree summer day to infuse the infiltration of vitamin D with more than a bit of charm and humor. Perhaps it is life that is happening, the west coast ideal, the kind idealized on the old show Northern Exposure, and in some ways the petri dish for movements launched by Gen X and them immortalized into pop culture fame.
For now, at least, I'm back on my Left Coast home.