Six years ago today, June 1, I began the physical move to Portland. It started maybe 9 months prior. I came out to Portland to dork around with a good friend of mine who was considering a transfer. We joked about who would beat whom to Portand. I was just joking. I knew I wanted to move, and had been wanting to move from Wichita for years, but you know how things go... Sometimes life is painfully comfortable and you don't do anything until the pain becomes too great.
I had moved to Wichita to be close to my sister, who was having kids. All kids should have that one crazy aunt, and I was (and am) determined to be that person to them. So I left Kansas City and went to study massage therapy and work in a small natural foods store. One of my ex's turned good friend had worked at Natures Merc and was leaving as I was coming, so she put in a word for me. Many of the enduring relationships that have continued since I left, began at Nature's Merc.
My thought with massage therapy was that it would me another skill I could acquire as a job that would/could move with me as I move.... How many ways do i dis-like licenced practices?
Anyway, I finished up school and left the little store and started a massage practice; looking at when would be a good time to pack up again and take this show on the road. The main questions were: when would I know that the relationships with my niece and nephews would be strong enough to stand the test of time and distance, what direction to head, and how to do massage on the road.
Then... I met someone.... damn it.... We had a great time for a couple years, then the one-day-at -a-time moment came. When it ended I didn't want to just jump and run. I wanted to know that I was moving down the road of MY life, and not just running for the sake of running. Then one night I went out to hear one of my favorite sorta local bands, and they played the song Wichita (the slide show with the song will explain some things) and that was all it took to kick the move into gear.
When the Portland idea and option came, it was like neon lights and full compass directions. I met people and bands and organizations that I was attracted to on so many levels, only to find out later they were based in Oregon... Portland, Oregon. Then there was the trip to Peru. I had already decided to move, but the reinforcements came. I was waiting to get our train tickets out of Cuzco, and started a conversation with a couple.... from Portland. Then one morning, I was having breakfast at a stall in the market in Aquas Caliente, and had a conversation with a guy from Lincoln City, Oregon. It was crazy just how much I was encouraged by some type of fate to get my ass to the Pacific Northwest.
So June 1st, 2008 I packed up my mom's car (she left town while I prepared to leave once more), and moved myself and my few possessions to Portland. My friend who encouraged the move out had a house there and offered me one of the rooms for a few months while I found some work and such. So I arrived and her and her friends took real good care of me... bike rides, happy hour, dinner, and my first kayak trip.
That kayak trip is a whole other story, but it either killed my old life, or birthed my new one. Either way, it resulted in getting stuck in pipeline rapids and getting tossed out of the kayak, breaking the paddle, and me swimming to a cove that required a search and rescue mission. Everyone ended up ok. Kayaks recovered also by search and rescue... who were absolutely amazing and awesome in the true meaning of the words by-the-way. Cold beers tasted mighty good after an extra hot shower that day.
A couple days later, I drove my mom's car back to Wichita, met up with some friends for some final good-byes, and flew out to Portland.
So much has happened since then. That friend that sent me down pipeline rapids... we are no longer friends, but I will always be grateful to her for getting me out here. But I have new friends and many of those new friends, feel like old friends. It is unbelievable the people I have met here. They help me and support me to push myself to be myself. And the friends I had before the move.... the close ones that understand why I had to leave... they are still by my side and I hope they know I am by theirs as well.
See, I don't know what Truck Stop Honeymoon is trying to say with the song Wichita, but for me, it represents me being an odd shaped peg being forced into all kinds of different holes.... forced to take on a shape that the culture of the mid-west could recognize and then categorize me so that they knew how to interact with me vs. getting to know me. That is the pervasiveness of our dominant Western culture... very scientific: classify and label = to know. Relationships are not that easy. People have stories not just to tell, but to discover of themselves and others. To get to know someone is also to encourage others to explore the unknown reaches of themselves.
There are times that I wish I had a map of myself as I explore new frontiers and the deeper recesses of my emotional frontier. But the truth is, it is uncharted territory, and it is our friends (and sometimes, many times strangers) who help us along the way. But these people, these places, they have to give us the room and space to explore. Questions are encouraged and answers are not always the outcomes.
I've been in Portland 6 years now. As long as I have been anywhere since I graduated high school. A couple years ago, knowing that I was hitting my searching time frame, I started thinking about where I was going to go next. Austin? Great city, but it is in Texas and I have lived/survived Texas already. Flagstaff? Again, a great place but water! So many water issues. I can't see myself living on the east coast again, nor the south at all! Colorado? Its a great vacation spot, but I don't want to live there. Sooo many people are heading to the Bay area, but no.
When it comes down to it, Portland is home for me! For the first time in my life, I can actually call some place home and mean it. Mt. Hood is the beacon. The Columbia river and the Willamette guide the way. The trees give me the deep breaths I need when the tough moments come. The amazing food grown here keeps me strong. The rain keeps me clean and well does so much. The vegan culture helps keep my values and ethics alive and dynamic. Bike culture keeps me fit and gets me around town... I could keep going, but what it comes down to, for me, is a place I can be myself with out excuses, or explanations. My apologies are genuine and heartfelt.
I don't know what home is suppose to be. I use to say that "home is where the toothbrush is". But now my heart is learning about where home is, and it doesn't need to run around searching for it in other places or people anymore... or at least for now.