Friday, November 18, 2011

Almost Home

We drove down to Eugene for a friend's birthday party a few weeks back. Also on the agenda was looking for our new home. As we pulled into town, I began taking pictures of the freeway in front of us. Leaning out the car window to snap photos of my home town is not something I would have done in the twenty five years I lived there. But after seven years in Portland, I felt like a tourist giddy with excitement.

Sometimes you don't know how much you've missed something until you almost have it back.

People think I'm nuts for being so sentimental about moving home. But the nice thing about getting older (I can use that expression now -- I found GREY HAIRS the other day, which is a whole other situation I need to post about later. Correction, my co-worker and dear friend actually found the grey hairs on my head and I insisted she pluck them out so I could stare in disbelief) is that I have come to accept a few things about myself. For instance, I like everything that is safe, familiar, and known.When I was little, spending the night at a friend's house seemed so exciting, but by 7pm, like clockwork, the homesickness would kick in and I'd ask the parents to drive me back. When I traveled to places like New Orleans, Los Angeles, or Mexico I usually spent the whole time sitting inside, calling home. During my pregnancy with Jack, I spent a month in Mexico at a language school. Everyday after class I went straight to my room and read until bedtime (there was no TV).  I only brought four books so I read Barack Obama's autobiography three times in a row. (Thanks Mom! I feel quite connected to Obama now -- and you know, as a side note, he used to watch a lot of TV himself and where did he end up? Harvard and the White House!).  Anyway, only twice did I go sightseeing -- forcing myself to sign up for day trips to the local sights and museums. My other outings consisted of walking to the Internet cafe down the street to email friends and family.

Throughout the years, after each trip I took, I would always return home and scold myself: Why can't I be more adventurous? Why don't I explore the city, make new friends? Why not embrace the change of scenery? Back then, it seemed so small minded and almost offensive to good judgement that I did not enjoy those experiences more. Over and over, I would ask myself: What am I so afraid of? 

But now I'm all: Who cares? In theory, expanding your horizons is an essential component of one's life journey, blah-de-blah-de-blah and all that plus a bag of chips. But at the end of the day, I'd just as soon learn about the world through books, movies, and television. I'm a dreamer, not a doer. That's who I am. I would prefer to explore Iceland by watching a documentary rather than risk the flight. Cause that's some ocean flying right? And actually, I'm not even that curious about Iceland. And while everyone else on Facebook is doing it, I really don't want to backpack through South America, die of frost bite while climbing Mt Hood during a blizzard, or ride my bike to the Coast while enjoying Oregon's scenic highways. I just don't enjoy adventure.

What I do enjoy is the familiar. The comfort of laughing for hours in my parent's kitchen, driving past streets that carry a thousand memories, calling family friends up on the same phone number they've had for years, running into people I know at the grocery store, and most of all -- being in my own skin. Eugene is like a glove that fits perfectly. And in that town, I can merge the unfamiliar with the familiar. I've been navigating parenthood for three years now. This whole time; I've been asking myself all those same questions that twirled around in my head* after each trip. Because all those questions boiled down to just one: What am I so afraid of? (*I'm sorry, but Cain's quote is too much to resist and, to be honest, I can relate).

In Portland, I feel like a failure as a parent. Always paralyzed with anxiety over where to go and what to do. I don't know which park is the best or how to find a kid friendly restaurant for family date night. Is there a place we can go to paint pottery? I wouldn't know, so intimidated am I to even Google it on the Internet. "There's too many options, too many freeways", I whine to Brent. Should I find a kids indoor gym by my work, or near our house? I scribble out pros and cons lists in my head for the perfect library. WHICH ONE WILL BE MY SON'S CHILDHOOD LIBRARY??? The Clackamas one has more books, but the Oregon City one has a pretty brick exterior. The Portland metro area is suffocating me with eye-rolling worthy dilemmas.

At this point, I'm ready to break up with my mundane and ridiculous crazy parent inner-monologue. The hopes I hold for my children are nothing unique. Just a magical childhood. That's all. And up here, I'm beyond lost as to how we'll provide that. But in Eugene, I don't even need a map. I know every amazing, special, and awesome spot to go. For each season, there are numerous traditions from my own childhood that I can't wait to share with my kids. In Portland, being a homebody means BEING AT HOME. But in Eugene, being a homebody means BEING ANYWHERE IN THE CITY. It's my territory, and Internet searches to find a pizza place are not required.

So I continue to count down the weeks until we move. Ten! Every night I comb through Craigslist looking for the perfect 3 bedroom, 1 bath, ranch house with wood floors and an attached double-car garage (Are you writing this down, my Eugene peeps?).  In my head, every Saturday is mapped out with the places we'll take Jackson. Dinner menus are planned for Sunday night gatherings with our family. (That someone else will be cooking). Maybe life won't be perfect in Eugene, but I know that it will be OUR life. So I can't wait to be almost home. No apologies for that sappy ending.

In my parent's kitchen.

Once again, I deleted a quarter of my post before putting it online. I had to make a cup-o-noodle and watch two episodes of "Brides of Beverly Hills" just to motivate myself to rewrite it. (And no, cup-o-noodle does NOT have enough sodium in it and YES it does need extra salt).


  1. Love you! Thank you! Eugene needs you!

  2. I don't love Eugene - I don't get it. But I do love your writing - you did such a good job laying this entry out too - love the snapshots

  3. I was going to whine about how much I will miss you guys and guilt you with "how can you leave me" but actually I am sitting here, in Eugene, in Mom and Dad's living room after a really wonderful evening talking with Mom and Dad in the kitchen and realizing that, actually it will give me the needed kick in the butt to come down more often and visit my wonderful family.

  4. Like you I love Eugene and all the wonderful memories - but sometimes that makes it sad for me...nostalgia is hard...but I can't wait to visit you at your new house and make new memories. To be sad about later. :)

  5. Thanks for this, it made me feel better about being me and wanting to be home and just read about other people's adventures on the internet or in books. Love you, Bekah!


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