Moving from “home” to a “new” home is always stressful and disorienting. This move was no exception. Sure I have lived in other parts of the world but I always came back to California and San Francisco. In fact it was a year ago this week that I returned to the U.S. after almost a year in the Czech Republic. While I was away some things changed and some things remained the same. Right now we are still unpacking the last remaining boxes. We have internet and yesterday Dish put up our satellite dish amid the array of DirecTV dishes. We brought the receiver ourselves from California so in the words of “Poltergeist” “…we moved the headstone but we didn’t move the bodies…” (not sure how that fits but it’s been in my mind). I am still getting used to the quiet.
Siri the iPhone voice of directions still hasn’t figured out where we are, though. A few days ago she directed us to a bedding store that took us to the international airport parking garage. “Your destination is on your left.” And just yesterday we travelled to the “nearest” Social Security office in Portland, Oregon but wound up in Vancouver, Washington on the other side of the Columbia River. I should have guessed something was up with her when Siri said, “Let me take another hit off this bong and I’ll get you to where you are going.” That’s the only plausible explanation I have of her confusion.
And a word about proximity…700 miles away from San Francisco, in another state and another culture does have it’s benefits. Sarah and Andy and Charlie live only about 10 minutes away from our flat in Portland on the Columbia River. That is a plus. So instead of waiting for random pictures of her we can see first hand how much she is growing and becoming a unique person in real time. That’s a gift and I am glad to be home in the U.S. to watch her continuing transformation. The dance we call life is relatively short and is full of possibilities and choices along the way. Our choosing to move northward was an intellectual no-brainer. There are tugs at the heartstrings of missing the cold and the fog and, of course, AT&T Park. Although we lived in Menlo Park for over 3 years after 20 years on the coast, we never really felt like we were “at home” in Menlo. Living right on El Camino Real with it’s incessant traffic of ambulances and trucks made it difficult to put down roots. Portland will take some time to get used to but it is quiet where we are. There is a weed shop down the street, there is no sales tax, you cannot pump your own gas and Fred Meyer is a one-stop shopping mecca. I may seek out a language school to teach ESL to keep myself busy. But these are things to think about while I hang our pictures. There’s no rush.
So sitting on the porch overlooking the small courtyard below watching our neighbors come and go is all right for the time being. Knowing we can get in the car and discover Portland with no agenda is also all right. Maybe Siri will take us on unknown adventures when we punch in “market.” There are plenty of trees to hug along the way, and the river is about 15 minutes by car. Sure it’s not the ocean but it is a body of water and it does flow into the sea at Astoria, about 90 miles away. And Seattle is also close by, relatively speaking. The weather is supposed to hit 100 on Saturday dare I wear shorts? Is Portland ready for dazzling white legs yet? Will I blind people? It’s early yet in our stay. It’s OK. No more “have to’s” for a while. Maybe later.
…and so it goes…