I don’t know how many more mornings I’ll wake up surprised to be where I am: 28 years old, unmarried, jobless, in Portland, Oregon. Young, able, stupid in love, wise and unwise, and in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.
Who knew there were skies so blue outside of North Carolina?
I didn’t know that winter could loom like a cartoon villain drawn in black lines — a hulking presence behind me while I sweat in the summer heat. Conflicting reports don’t help my fears. “It’s not so bad.” vs. “Did you notice all the soup shops? Winters wet like ours require comfort.”
Victory is the first time I remembered to bring my reusable bags to the grocery store. The cashier did not appreciate my happy dance.
Defeat is almost going to jail for pumping my own gas. This may be the only thing New Jersey and Oregon has in common, besides me.
I don’t know why the kindness of people surprises me, I am a Southerner, after all.
The neighborhoods define people here. Where you choose to live tells everyone: how much money you have or don’t have, what’s more important to you food/beer or schools, if you have kids or not, if you’re east or west of the river, north or south of Burnside or how thick the rims are on your fake glasses.
I’ve yet to learn how to close off my face — the look that regular users of public transportation have mastered — everyone speaks to me, asks for money, and it’s with shameful relief that for once, I can honestly say I don’t have any.
I don’t know anything. About composting, or gardening. About sharing a table with strangers at the library or sharing a seat with strangers on the bus, but I am learning. Learning to coupon, learning how to live with another person and still love him.
Did I say the sky was blue? I mean like 80’s lightwash denim, a Robin’s egg, or a sea of Carolina Tarheels.
I don’t know why I have to be the wanderer, the child farthest from home. I guess I have to miss something to love it the way it deserves.