The View From Here

Seattle, University of Washington,full moon, Washingtion,
A full moon from my living room. Which is also my bedroom and dining room.

I’ve been back in a place of my own for three months now. It is so nice to have a place that is mine – where the things are mine and the choices and the messes and the books are all mine. Where alone time is always an option and sleeping in a matter of course.

I wake to a view of UW and birds on my deck eating the seed/bribes I’ve put out. There’s a drawbridge nearby that blasts a foghorn when it’s going to lift  sometimes waking me, sometimes drawing me to the window to see what’s coming through. Dozens of bird species in the air and in the water, and all manner of water-craft, including the occasional float plane or floating hot tub.

I’m back at a real job – a thing I thought maybe I’d never have again. But it’s not as painful as I imagined it would be. I’m actually enjoying it – that is the most surprising part, really. I got everything I wished for – challenging work that stretches my capabilities, good compensation, good people to work with, a casual office atmosphere with a bit of flex in the schedule that allows for a slow morning, and two blocks from home.

You would think it would be hard to go back to all of this, having abandoned it for life on the road. But the truth is that it’s all too easy to fall back into the groove you’ve lived in for most of your life. It takes very little effort to live like you always did, to live like everyone around you.

You get up and do what you did yesterday, how hard is that? Wondering where you’ll be next week and how you’ll get there? That is difficult and often exhausting, even while being amazing and awesome. Who would have guessed that a regular job would be restful?!

But I’m definitely not the same person I was two years ago, in that wonderful office in Portland. And there’s no chance I’ll decide that I just want to stay here forever. A regular schedule has always been something I hated, and that hasn’t changed. Lately I’ve been changing it up by working more, not less, which is at least a new twist.

But I still yearn for turquoise oceans and tropical breezes on a daily basis. And the lack of time to travel is annoying, though the regular cash flow is a welcome change.

I’ve gotten lucky and already had visits (both intentional and ‘hey, I’m in Seattle for work, let’s do dinner’) from five people I adore, and more on the way in the next few weeks. My bank accounts are back in the black and savings starting to build again. I’m going to Alaska this June for my class reunion and other visits (hello, child of my loins).

Life is good.

But don’t imagine I’ve given up on adventure.

Betwixt and Between: What do I do now?

Rhode Island, Atlantic Ocean, beach day,
Probably my last beach day of 2016, Rhode Island coast.

I’m almost out of money.

The smart move is to head back to Montana and stay free with my sister, get a job and return to the story of work and home and a settled life. Or that same scenario, but back in Portland where I have a support system and more professional connections.

Winter is coming. No, not Winter is Coming, nothing ominous here. Just snow and cold and studded tires and windshields that must be scraped. Montana has winter, the real stuff. I will not be actively choosing to winter anywhere that knows what that word means.

Returning to Portland would feel like coming full circle – which wouldn’t be bad, but it would feel like the end of this story. And I’m not ready for that ending just yet.

I am a little tired of not having my own space to return to. I might be spoiled for ever living with anyone long-term ever again. I just want to wake up in a space where no one intrudes without invitation, regardless of how much I might love the intruder. That means some kind of place of my own, even if just for six months or whatever. But while I am looking forward to not being a ping-pong ball, I did still want something new.

So I’m going to Seattle in two weeks. West Coast feels like home, Seattle is on the water and near the ocean and has very little winter.  I have a friend there who’ll let me crash while I find work and I can take the train back to Montana for Christmas. And if it all tumbles down around me, both Portland and Montana are close enough to crawl back to and lick my wounds.

So here I am in South Carolina, sitting in a new place with not-new people, headed down a well-traveled road with a new adventure at the end of it. At least, what in my head seems like a new adventure. I’m looking forward to it.


Accepting No Substitutes

Clifford Beach, CaliforniaI was in Seattle last week, and I took a ferry from there to Bremerton, about an hour’s boat ride across Elliott Bay.* From the boat, the water is surrounded on four sides by land, since Puget Sound is all twisty and you can’t see where the bay meets Admiralty Inlet, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and later the Pacific. It was great to be out on the water, and from some viewpoints, any land in view was a long way off.

Seattle, Washington, Puget Sound, Elliott BayThe views of downtown Seattle and Mt. Rainer were spectacular and I was sorry I’d left my good camera back in Portland. The gulls followed us, and fought the wind by being still in the air just a few feet over the deck. The public dock in Bremerton had nice benches where you could stare at the water to your heart’s content.

Chetco Point, Brookings, Oregon.
Sunset from Chetco Point, Brookings, Oregon.

But it was not the ocean. And it seems it really is the ocean I’m looking for, not just a big body of water. Because I didn’t get the same feeling I got in Lincoln City three weeks ago, or here in Brookings today.

Here is the land I’m standing on, there is the water, and then there is nothing. The waves are constant, ever-changing and never-ending. Maybe it’s hot, maybe it’s cold, maybe it’s windy, but the water goes on forever.

Seals in Lincoln City, Oregon
Okay, I realize this is also not the ocean, but SEALS. Seals are cool.

*the ferry is only $8 for passengers. EIGHT DOLLARS! For a two hour boat ride, and the ride back is free.