When I was a little girl, I would save up everything I had to say to my dad for one long earful. Dad! Dad, I have to tell you something! I would squawk. Is this a one or two cigarette story, Boo? His reply would always make me roll my eyes. Consider yourself warned if you’ve sat down to read this.
It’s been six months since we’ve moved. It’s a been a bit quiet around here, right? Well, I did shut this down without an idea of what would come next. And, Off the 101 has been a little… static? generic? lame? All of the above.
What can I say… this move has been an epic disaster. Or, well, it started out that way. I think we’re finally on the mend, six months in.
Let’s recap a bit?
First, I have this “conceptual block” issue. Sort of the way writers get Writer’s Block, runners hit the Wall… you know? It happens to me in various ways. For example- if I cannot see the entire outcome, a fully painted concept in my minds eye, I cannot move forward. If I do not have a clear picture of the end result… it sits.
It happened with our condo in Portland. I got all sorts of “color blocked” when it came to painting the interior. It took two seasons to actually paint it. And it’s happened with the blog(s) a multitude of times.
When I began writing Life In Stumptown in 2006 (I think in various posts, I’ve mentioned its many forms, originating on a Friendster blog —the archive is not even 1/8 of what it should be), it was fairly easy: Write about everything, blog the journey. Then, things changed. My life, my career, our family… and I was blocked. I didn’t know what I wanted to say any more. With each passing year, the indecisiveness around staying put in Portland, or moving on to something else, added to my block. I was living in my head a lot. I should have been writing, but I couldn’t get passed the block of what I wanted the end result of it all to look, feel, sound like.
When we finally decided to move this past summer, I jumped on the opportunity to start something new. I thought I could start a new personal journey on Off the 101. But the more I sat down and tried to say something, the weirder it felt. To me, Off the 101 felt like it was supposed to be a visual place. Less words.
So in my head I went, again. Posting nothing. Saying nothing. Some pics here and there. Lots of Facebooking of sunsets. Meh.
As I said at the top of the post, it’s been six months now since our journey to our home-state of California began. I sort of feel like I need to get off my ass and write something. Bear with me as I experiment posting words here, on TheRRS, and posting pics and less personal things on Off the101. Let’s just see how that works out.
I also said, at the top of the post, this move has been an epic disaster. And it has. Beginning with actually getting here.
About a week before our departure from Portland, the entire family came down with a horrible sickness. We were so far behind with packing, painting, and purging, I had no idea what would happen on moving day.
The hubs ended up staying back in Portland for an extra week to tidy up and prepare for our renters to move into our place.
The kids and I headed out for California and thought we would goof off for a couple days in our new place, empty. It turned into 9 days without furniture, beds, or a real refrigerator. We had a pint-sized man-cave-beer-fridge. The kids were bouncing off the walls.
We spent quite a few days and nights splayed out on the floor of our living room, and gathering around our small flat-screen watching the summer Olympics.
Finally, after 9 days, hubs was on his way. Only, his car broke down on the 5 in Redding. In scorching heat. He was able to limp along the 5 to the Bay area, and make it to his mom’s home. We blasted up there to bring him the rest of the way down.
Talk about a rough start?! Oh, it get’s better.
Prior to moving here, I had solidified a job (or rather, two), in June, with a virtual hand-shake. I took on a job with a small marketing agency on the central coast, while still in Portland. I also agreed to a teaching position at a local performing arts studio.
Once down here on the coast, things changed rapidly. Teaching was great. But, the owner of the marketing agency and I could not really get through the brokering of the actual compensation contract. It ended not so well, rather ugly, and was quite unfortunate. Luckily, I was still teaching part-time. However, we all know, teaching alone does not pay the bills. So job-hunting again I went -in a smaller market than Portland, where I had struggled to find work. I had been told multiple times, it was was common for people here on the central coast to have 3 or 4 different jobs “just to live here.”
Could I get a collective “WTF?!” from everyone?
With all of this ridiculous uncertainty, the family battled growing stress and tension. No one seemed happy in our new paradise. Me, especially. I was running ragged trying to teach, deal with a failing and unfair contract, look for new work, and was back to remembering exactly why we left California in the first place.
People have asked me over the last six months if we miss Portland. Yes. Absolutely. Daily.
My desire to come back to California was so great, I didn’t think there would be any mourning over Portland. Portland gave us what we needed, and it was time to move on. Though it seemed transitional, Portland was home. Six years in Portland is considerable. Two of our children didn’t even remember living in California prior to living in Portland. Portland was all they knew. One of our children was born in Portland.
So we sat, in our new home —with western and southwestern exposure to the ocean, sunshine, and a near consistent 70 degrees each day— but with mountainous stress and a longing to just take the easier road and go back to Portland. Who wanted to start over somewhere new? That was hard. I was not a fan of putting in 6 more years to feel settled.
Homesickness for Portland crept in. For all of us. Could I get another collective “WTF?!” Moving here was supposed to be easy, right? It’s where we (I, rather), wanted to be, right? It was like the ocean and palm trees were mocking me. The blue sky laughed and said, fooled you, didn’t I?
Why wasn’t this new transition working?
Square peg, round hole. Square peg, round hole. Square peg, round hole.
Was this not the right fit for us?
With a failed contract negotiation with my first job here, teaching alone was proving to not be sustainable. Thinking about how little work I could find in Portland, I was not optimistic about finding work here. I opened up my scope and serendipitously enough, I found marketing administration work for an urban planning firm. I say serendipitously, as this firm was responsible for some of the redevelopment work in the town we moved to. Work that I had read about a year earlier when I was researching living in this area. So far, it has been a great fit. I had to give up teaching in order to take on this huge a role. It is a small firm, with two offices, here and in San Francisco. But so far, the give and take has been worth it. I am enjoying the work, and its easing our uncertainty and stress. It’s allowing us to settle. To feel secure.
With this newfound sense of security in our new home, we set ourselves a light at the end of the tunnel. A little litmus test for staying here. Let’s just see how we feel after the holidays, we said. We recalled our last holidays alone in Portland, and that didn’t seem like such fun. The fact remained, that although we love and miss Portland, it was just us there. Out in the silo. Trips to see our family in the Bay area were few and far between. In fact, since moving to the central coast, we’ve seen our family more in the six months we’ve been here, than we did collectively through our six years in Portland.
The holidays came and went, and boy, they were definitely fulfilling. For me, personally, each time we left the Bay area, I felt emotionally contented. It was nice to go back home to the coast. When we would leave the Bay and return to Portland, it felt as if my appendages were being torn from me. Back in Portland, it would take me a few weeks to get back into the groove and not miss the Bay. It was almost more painful to visit home than not.
But here, it’s so easy. It’s so easy to shoot up to the Bay over the weekend, with so little effort. Such a short drive. Such a beautiful drive.
So now that the holidays have passed, and some stability has returned to our life, we are hopeful. We are hopeful that the worst of the transition is behind us. We are hopeful of things to come here. We are hopeful this can remain our home.
And, we still miss Portland. But not because it is the easier of two choices, the easy road, but for reasons of genuine love for the experiences we had there. The homesickness that creeps in on me during the wee hours is now a soothing sadness, eased away each morning by the beautiful Pacific.