I know, I fail at blogging. Forgive me, small and scrappy audience of mostly relatives; it’s been four months since my last post. But I have my
excuses reasons. In addition to the usual laziness and paralyzing self-doubt, I haven’t written because we’ve undergone some changes:
Early September: We visited Portland, kind of a birthday trip for me but primarily so Adam could interview for a new job. Good friends gave us a grand (and patient, considering the three-year-old Grumplestiltskin traveling with us) tour of the city, including the Oregon coast, where I was able to cross “see Goonies rock” off my life list:
Goonies never say die.
Mid-September: Adam is offered the job! We are moving! He starts on October 1! Wait . . . what?
We have two weeks to tell everyone and say goodbye to Colorado-based friends and family; manage an interstate move; put our Colorado house on the market; and drive two carloads of stuff, a carsick toddler, and a flatulent dog to the Pacific Northwest. Thankfully, a moving company will be relocating us, but our realtor thinks we’re more likely to sell the house if we leave it furnished. So we plan to take enough things to get by for a month in furnished corporate housing, crossing our fingers that the house sells fast, and planning to return to Colorado after our month of corporate housing is up to collect our things.
We are stressed the fuck out.
Adam’s parents visit (a trip that was scheduled before all of this was happening), and they’re essentially handed boxes, brooms, and drills and forced to spend their vacation helping us pack and work on home repairs to get the house market-ready. I adjust my OCD cap and roll up my OCD sleeves and clean the place top to bottom in preparation for the open house that our realtor will host two days after we hit the road for Oregon. Because of my awesome work situation, this move won’t affect my business at all. But this also means the work doesn’t stop, and taking time off just means I get further behind. I’m on a continuous loop of working and cleaning and hand-wringing.
I bring cupcakes to Henry’s class on his last day of school and get a couple pics of him hugging the kids that he has shared school, colds, toys, and bites with since he was 12-weeks-old. His teachers take a group photo of all the kids in the class making sad faces and paste it to a construction-paper card that says, “This is how we feel about you leaving.” Henry wails in despair on the car ride home.
Heart broken and hands wrung, we load up the cars and set out for Portland.
Two vomiting episodes (1 for Henry; 1 for the dog) and two smelly cars later (we took turns riding with the farty dog), we arrive in Portland. We’re set up in a furnished apartment downtown, right across the street from Adam’s new office. We tour Henry’s new preschool and get him enrolled. He and Adam start school and work the same day. I spend my days in the apartment working and teaching Nona how to crap in the city (no worries, poop bags in tow).
Late September/Early October: One week after we left Colorado, our home is under contract. We had two offers just days after our insanely awesome realtor hosted the open house. I dive into stalking Craigslist for rental homes. In some weird, superstitious gesture, I continue subscribing to and checking the Longmont Times Call because until October 29, the date scheduled for our closing, we’re still Colorado residents. Also, the Times Call is already becoming colored with a dusty pastel nostalgia, a glowing artifact of our time in Longmont. To wit:
Police Notes: Naked Woman Accused of Breaking Windows
Longmont Woman Suspected of Stuffing Chihuahua Puppy Down Pants
Paint on Lips Give Away Suspected Huffer
Police Notes: Milk Stolen from Porch
<insert sigh of longing>
In the spirit of getting to know my new town, and hopeful for some Portlandia-esque headlines, I peruse the Oregon news:
Hogs Eat Oregon Farmer
Jesus. We are not in Kansas anymore, dude.
Since we were in an apartment and sans yard, I was forced to push through my hermit-prone sensibilities and walk the dog a few times a day. I was pleased to discover that human-eating hogs were not running amok in the streets. Instead, I found downtown Portland to be pretty much adorable, an encouraging, hand-holding starter city for a suburbanite like me. In addition to the dearth of maniacal hogs, I observe the following about our new surroundings:
1. Downtown is, unsurprisingly, peopled with well-dressed young professionals. I had to make an effort not to stare at all the hip ladies, who appear to have sprung fully formed from a Pinterest board. With my soccer-mom hair and too-clean New Balance walking shoes, I’m suddenly very aware of how middle-aged and mom-like I’m looking. It’s a little depressing. The men are no slouches, either. It’s not three-piece suits or anything, but they’re dressing with intention and exhibit a gift for layering. They’re wearing unscuffed leather boots, stylishly wrapped scarves tucked into their corduroy jackets, unwrinkled flannel shirts, and crisp blue jeans with cuffed legs. Like genteel lumberjacks! Or dandy farmers! Or whittlers who moonlight as professors? Now, perhaps this is the norm where you live, but remember, I’m coming from Longmont, where chihuahua-stuffed pants pass as noteworthy (though unlawful) fashion. So it’s welcome eye-candy, and it’s making me want to shop.
2. I’m committing this to the interwebs now so that when we’re mired in weeks (months?) on end of gloomy weather next spring, you can poke a virtual finger in my face and laugh at me, but for now, I’m really liking the overcast weather and almost constant, misting rain. It feels a little like living in a cooler rainforest, which I guess we do. I’ve always loved stormy days. The streets are less populated, as if everyone is laying low and taking cover. Such days are unassuming, a slower pace is expected, and they’re perfect for crawling under the covers and watching hobbits, not that I’ve gotten to do that yet. Also, I’ve gotten more use out of my purple rain umbrella in the past month than I have in the four years I’ve owned it. Though please note: you will instantly mark yourself as a tourist or a newcomer here by busting out an umbrella. Rain is such a constant that the locals just deal, okay. I guess this is similar to the phenomenon of Coloradans donning flip-flops as soon as the thermometer hits 50 degrees.
3. Speaking of hobbits, Oregon’s lush greenery and sweeping edge-of-the-earth coast feel very Lord of the Rings, which we know I find strangely comforting. Let me state for the record that if we ever buy a house again and we’re still living here, I want a dang hobbit door. Adam, you will just have to stoop.
Mid-October: We fly back to Colorado to manage the move of our stuff and clean the house for the final walk-through. Henry gets to spend time with his uncle and his best friend from school and again collapses into a puddle of tears when we leave a few days later. Shouldn’t toddlers have the memory retention of a cat? Clearly, we can’t move again until he’s 25.
sad kid for sale
Upon returning to Portland for real this time, we sign a lease on a rental home, a sweet and lovingly renovated 1915 bungalow with clawfoot tubs and impractically tiny closets. Despite having no place to put our broom, we’re loving it more each day, and I’m really appreciating being in a home with good bones and built-ins, and also knowing that when the heat stops working or a hole opens up in our roof, someone else has to fix it.
Late-October: We attend a kids’ Halloween party at Adam’s new agency and allow Henry to celebrate his inner-monster by dressing him as the Hulk. Henry gets into character with some candy-fueled sugar rages and channels Mark Ruffalo’s adorably rumpled vibe:
Today: Our house is sold. We are former homeowners and happy home renters. Let’s recap: In less than three months, we
- drove to Portland from Colorado.
- flew to Colorado from Portland and back to Portland again.
- sold our home.
- moved twice — from Colorado home to Portland apartment and from Portland apartment to Portland home.
- started a new job.
- started a new preschool.
- went from working in my underwear in Colorado to working in my underwear in Portland.
- learned the dangers of Oregon’s human-eating hogs.
- devised Halloween costume for toddler, complete with grease-pencil abs.
- re-elected the president.
To put this in perspective, I did not just birth my fourth child naturally. But man, I’m tired.
I am not what you would call an “adventurous” person. I don’t ride roller coasters because I do not find it “fun” or “exhilarating” to simulate the feeling of plummeting to my death. The few times I’ve traveled abroad, I would have been content to spend the entirety of my trip in the hotel room, where I wouldn’t instantly be pegged as a stupid American who didn’t know the language and where I could get food and wine delivered directly to my room, thereby “experiencing the culture” while minimizing my awkwardness and self-loathing. I think ferris wheels are dumb and deadly. Picking up and moving to a new place is as adventurous as I get. Buried somewhere in the sweaty stress folds is a genuine excitement, a thrill in planning as much as I can until I finally throw my hands up with exhaustion, unclench, and say fuck all. It’s a train of your own devising, but at some point it’s propelling itself forward, and you’re just a passenger. I guess this is my version of running with the bulls. I don’t know how many more of these moves I have in me, but I like that in this one respect, I can count myself game.