Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Portland 2019: Finding Our Feet

The view from my desk

It turns out that packing up your whole house, dragging three suitcases onto a plane, and moving to the other side of the country for six months will make you feel emotions.

I don’t know why this surprises me. I don’t know why it continues to surprise me, since I’ve done stuff like this before (only once for this length of time, but still). I expect to land in a new environment with backpack in tow and immediately adjust, immediately fit in, and feel no emotion but gratitude and well-adjusted pleasantness. 

Instead, my emotions drop subtle hints that they are disturbed. Like me lying on the floor sobbing for half an hour because I missed my chickens. Or clamming up when anyone asked how I was doing, or feeling a panic that I should be somewhere else doing something else, or eating a nonstop stream of chocolate and tortilla chips (although, to be fair, Juanitas Chips are amazing and we don’t have them in the Midwest). 

One of the first nights here, I stared up at the Big Dipper and felt that it looked like a catapult, that I had crawled into and had now flung me across the country in an explosion of stardust, and I was tumbling, tumbling, over and over, unable to tell what was up and what was down. Over the next several nights, the constellation looked like something different every time. A cradle, which I could collapse into and sleep. A hook, used to catch the stars and put them in order. A crooked needle on a compass pointing me forward.

Almost without my notice, a month has slipped by since we arrived in Portland, and each day feels more normal than before. I’m starting to focus on the present rather than the thousand alternate realities. I’m starting to concentrate on my work when I’m working, and my reading when I’m reading, and my walking when I’m walking, rather than trying to split myself ten different ways. I’m enjoying the beautiful (and unusual, for this area) sunny days, the dozens of new birds, the towering Douglas firs, the hiking and bus-riding and time to draw.

Yesterday we walked to a nearby patch of forest and foraged stinging nettles and dandelions, which we’ll be eating tonight in honor of the spring equinox. We’ve planted a garden and check each day to see when the seeds will come up. We bought delicious cheese at the farmers’ market and have discovered a pleasant walk to a trout hatchery with ponds full of adorable ducks nearby. 

On a nighttime stroll yesterday, I gazed at the Big Dipper, and to my relief it just looked like a dipper. Things have shifted into place, and I finally feel like I’m grounded in this new environment, ready to experience whatever comes next.


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