An Ode to Oregon and the people in it ♡

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At points, the hardest thing you have to do is open the blinds. Coming to in the morning, reaching the state where reality sets in and the churning in your stomach begins another 12 hour shift. Sometimes its caused by lack of sleep, the lack of someone sleeping next to you, or the absence of a lack of alcohol. Those occurrences are fleeting, dulled by putting your feet on the ground. In those moments gaps of sun still make it in and the thought doesn’t cross your mind to stay in the dark. The kind of black that fills the room when you’re in-between lives is different. When Bob Dylan sings about the crossroads it seems anything but daunting, rather an essential right of passage to join our destiny on the other side. It is unknown, but in a comforting way; a way that will end in sunlight. Or whisky. When you’re in your mid twenties, graduated two years ago, and still searching for a place of employment the crossroads seem a little bit more like that terrifying forest path in Beauty and the Beast (its just how my brain works). For the last few mornings, I’ve wanted to keep the blinds shut: for the third time in less than a year I’ve found myself out of a job. It always seems to happen when I feel on top of the world, but none the less there is no way that even the happiest of souls can bounce back unscathed from that level of defeat. Three strikes.  If I were a baseball player I would have struck out, never even leave home. But I did leave home. I rounded the bases. Let the record show I went out swinging.

While we’re on the subject
Could we change the subject now?
I was knocking on your ear’s door but you were always out
Looking towards the future
We were begging for the past
Well we knew we had the good things
But those never seemed to last
Oh please just last

Everyone’s unhappy

Everyone’s ashamed

Well we all just got caught looking

At somebody else’s page

Well nothing ever went

Quite exactly as we planned

Our ideas held no water

But we used them like a dam

Oh, and we carried it all so well
As if we got a new position
Oh, and I laugh all the way to hell
Saying yes, this is a fine promotion
Oh, and I laugh all the way to hell

I moved to Oregon on a whim. I hadn’t known anyone. The first few months I felt like I was living in a coffin…A 200 sq foot studio dorm in Eugene, Oregon that didn’t allow the space to have friends over even if I had had them. I’d call my Mom crying that our phone call was the first time I had needed to use my voice in days. Then I met Alexa. From that day on things were different. Lex brought me my other loves of my life in Holly and Hayley. We found Sarah with whom I had the privilige of serving as her Maid of Honor in her wedding last August. It was all very serendipitous, the way things worked out. I moved to Portland in 2010 with all of these people behind me. Shit happened, as it always does, but the light at the end of the tunnel was the promise of a new life with these people just beyond graduation. Sooner rather than later. It was a matter of a few courses keeping me from the life of the known. When I held my diploma in my hands I would know what to do with the rest of my time on the third planet. When you write it out, it seems transparent but at some point our diplomas began serving as  misguided crystal balls. The thick piece of paper we spend one quarter of our lives (if we’re lucky enough to live them out) working for holds no equity in tomorrow.

For us…but it does for them. The people who seemingly have it all figured out. Climbing that career oriented ladder until they one day achieve the goals promised to us when we obtained that thick, expensive, piece of paper. I don’t mean to sound spiteful, my time waging a war to find a steady job has made me entirely more appreciative of people who hold any job for a period of time. Work is work. At some point, most everyone has to succumb and join the rest of the morning commute.

Of course everyone goes crazy
Over such and such and such
We made ourselves a pillar
We just used it as a crutch
We were certainly uncertain
At least I’m pretty sure I am
Well we didn’t need the water
But we just built that good God dam

Oh, and I know this of myself
I assume as much for other people
Oh, and I know this of myself
We’ve listened more to life’s end gong
Than the sound of life’s sweet bliss

Last week the bottom fell out. (Again). I once again found myself on the bus with an armful of my cubicle crying into the speaker. My Dad’s voice met mine with the same pain I’d felt twice before, in the same city. This was not Portland’s fault. This was not an easy decision. But in that moment on the bus I thought of my third strike and the level of defeat I felt in my heart and I realized that my “worst case scenario” never had been going home. My problem is that since 2008 I’ve felt as if I had two homes. I love this city. I love my roommates. I love that our house feels like a home in the cheesy Crosby Stills and Nash kind of way (and now I am crying). I love my friends. I love waking up in my yellow room with posters allover the walls. I love walking to $2 happy hours and the people I am lucky enough to have sit across from me. At the same time, those people I moved to Portland with all have plans to leave if they haven’t already. We grew up, grew into ourselves, and grew out of the feeling that everything we needed and loved had to be an arms length away. There is beauty in starting over, immeasurable matter of fact.

Tiny curtains open and we heard the tiny clap of little hands
A tiny man would tell a little joke and get a tiny laugh from all the folks
Sitting drifting around in bubbles and thinking it was us that carried them
When we finally got it figured out that we had truly missed the boat

There are not enough words, sentiments, quotes, songs, Jessica Day level of enthusiasm that I feel for the place 713 miles from the home I grew up in. As involuntary and unfair as this feels, the only other strike against Portland other than their non-existant entry level job market is that it is located 713 miles from where a part of me has always wanted to be. My childhood gang of hooligans that I’ve been away from since we walked across the LGHS steps. My dog who never stops looking for me on a daily basis. My two beautiful nephews who are now 1 and 2 years old, birthday parties I’ve yet to attend. My brother who is the strongest, kindest person I know who each time he has said goodbye to me asksed ‘When are you coming home?’ My sisters, who have accomplished so much in the years since I’ve been up here that its not worth the attempt to put into words how much they inspire me. My parents who have unwaveringly supported me through all of the trials and obstacles life threw at their middle kid, even the ones that were self inflicted. It is because of these reasons I return to California with arms out-stretched rather than firmly planted across my chest. On both fronts, I am perhaps the most happy I’ve ever been knowing these people are the ones I will always have to come home to. My house or theirs.

Oh, and we carried it all so well
As if we got a new position
Oh, and we owned all the tools ourselves
But not the skills to make a shelf with
Oh, what useless tools ourselves

The reason Modest Mouse lyrics have been strewn into this blog post is the reason I wrote it in the first place. I bought two tickets to see the band months ago knowing one of my friends would want to go with me. The show sold out in 2 minutes, making the tickets extremely valuable. After my most recent job loss, self confidence in the gutter,  I didn’t really question the notion of selling the tickets to someone who “deserved” to go to that show. I put the tickets on Craigslist and was overwhelmed with offers of over $300. At this point in my life that is an insane amount of money.  When I ran this idea by my boyfriend I thought he would think it was a smart idea. Although he admitted it would be nice for me to have that money, at the end of the day it is just money and I had been looking forward to it for weeks. I should go.

When you’re hit with big decisions the little things tend to blur together. Its hard to assess what means what, where your attention should focus. Its in those rare moments when you are able to see why you’re even trying. When I bought the tickets I wouldn’t have had that person to ask. Now I do. For that and the other 39283 ways I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have someone like that in my life, balancing it out when for too many hours I’ve waded into the black. That’s the thing about love, it has no time stamp or geographical restraints. As I’ve learned with loving my family from a telephone, you’re never too far away.

Its with a heavy but full heart I write this from a room with the blinds open in Seattle, Washington. Its a clear day out there and I’ve only got a few of them left with this view. I’d like to compare it to Barry Zitto’s last pitch, bowing out as a Giant the only way he knew how, heading back to the dugout with a smile on his face and people who would miss him in the seats. Humor me, here, dear ones. As nostalgic and cheesy as that sounds, if you know me at all that is just the tip of the iceberg (Titanic pun intended). To those I am leaving, I will miss until the day very soon that I see you again. To those I will see in June, save me a seat at AT&T park. I’ll be seein you.

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