I hadn’t made my bed all day. But there’s another reason.
Last year I upended everything I knew, sold my house and moved to Eugene Oregon. Friday night was precisely a year later. This is a remembrance and a celebration.
I’m usually pretty compulsive about the bed thing. Not just because I’m ex- military but it really sets up my day. Friday is when I strip the bed and do laundry, put on fresh sheets. It’s an exercise. Last night I was so tired and my knees hurt so much from a three-mile walk (I badly hyper-extended them recently, and they are PISSED OFF) that I just collapsed on the couch, right in the middle of a Bourne movie. Even Matt Damon couldn’t keep me awake.
I could have stayed up, made the bed, a discipline that I often impose on myself even on the most tired days. It’s an act of love. But this was an act of remembrance.
Last year in so many was was a seminal year, the culmination of three to four years of very difficult decisions including leaving Colorado after nearly fifty years, finally dumping a problematic ex, letting go of a life and a state and a way of being that had defined me for my entire adult life. I was throwing all my comfort and the familiarity of a beloved mountain lifestyle out the door in favor of what I hoped would be the sweet soft rains of the Pacific Northwest, tall trees and mossy woodlands.
One year ago precisely I limped into Eugene, Oregon, past beautiful forests which are now blackened ash along the once-breathtaking Highway 126 from Bend into my city. I landed late in the day. My realtor, Paula, met me at the door with a bottle Trader Joe’s lemonade and a big salad. That’s why I love her. She knew that I had just flipped, and demolished, my car just outside Twin Falls. Smashed the shit out of the little finger of my left hand.
I climbed out through the busted window, found my ID and waited for the cops. I am so lucky nobody was on the road that day, for my loop-de-loop (caused by a kidney stone, thanks for asking) landed me right across the opposing traffic lanes on I-84. Impressive. But not as impressive as getting out alive with just a few bumps.
It would be a while before I found out what else I’d injured but right then, I was tired, rattled, a lot of my stuff had been smashed to smithereens. There was nothing in the new house but carpet, the lemonade and my salad, and what I’d been able to salvage from my car. The moving team wasn’t available for weeks.
I had a camping go-bag. Honestly, there are times I am so glad for my adventure background. I unrolled a Thermarest onto the floor of my empty bedroom.
Not exactly the Taj Mahal but I took it with gratitude.
That’s how I would spend quite a few nights, often rolling onto that busted hand. Proper sleep sucked. My pain meds were in storage.
It was an inauspicious beginning to a brand new life. I had no idea that four weeks later, as work crews installed a brand new beautiful oak floor, my lovely town and most of the area would be further quarantined by the world’s worst air quality. My tiny Winix air purifier turned black keeping the inside air breathable.
A year later after endless loads of yard trash, back-breaking bramble removals, work crews and more work crews and tens of thousands of dollars I didn’t plan for in house repairs, I have this:
Now, these photos are already outdated, because I compulsively move shit around, and change things, which is part and parcel of what dumping fifty years in a state and fourteen in one beloved house involves. You unload all your stuff and get it out of the boxes. You put it anywhere and Get To It Later.
To that, the below photo shows my basement, with all the boxes that I had packed over the course of two years, moved downstairs at my Lakewood house alone, moved back upstairs to put into a moving van, alone, helped put into the moving van, then with a crew and JC Spears, my social media guy (that was how we met in person when he showed up to help move my shit) we unloaded the moving van into local storage.
THEN after I got to Eugene I had to move all of it in my rental car, with all the bruises and injuries and one hand down, into my basement, and stack it, then unpack it. Alone. Because Covid, quarantine, and I was under pressure to get it out of very expensive storage, and to buy a new car.
It would be weeks before I could get a crew to help me move and set up my bed.
A year later, I still can’t find a sewing kit. Know I have one. Clueless. I’ll bet you can relate. A year later I’ve got different injuries. I’m not sure there is any time that I’m not wrapped, splinted, bruised, bandaged or stitched up. Hard to look glamorous when my parts are barked. I had to give that up.
A year later my lawn is completely cleared of all the invasive weeds, grasses and species. The local deer have been availing themselves of the incoming trees and bushes. We’re trying to negotiate a truce. My favorite tree is hung far and wide with every kind of suet, dried worms, bird seeds and there are six sources of water for birds, turkeys, deer and whatever desperate hikers need to fall into face-first nearby.
I still can’t find a whole lotta things. That’s how you and I end up with three of everything. This house has a lot of drawers, shelves and places inside places that I used willy-nilly to unpack those boxes. Which got recycled. This is Oregon, after all. You could probably recycle dog shit here, but don’t tell my neighbor, whose huge German Shepherd Roxy makes sure that my nighttime eau de summer is dog poop.
If you drive to the beach you get this:
In the spring my yard gave me these:
That’s just a sampling. I have been utterly and totally overwhelmed, not only by the variety but also the creatures who visit, ranging from hummingbirds to turkey to deer. Some do less damage than others but my bug man told me just wait until the raccoons find out how much suet is hanging from my tree.
This speaks directly to where I am right now:
The “Happy” stone is already almost completely covered by ivy. My god I love it here.
Having spent a year setting up the house, which is close but no banana, I am now getting ready to leave, which I addressed elsewhere. For now it has started to feel like home, and, Covid allowing, I’m ready to hit the road.
Last night I slept on my couch, my damaged knees cradled by a heating pad, the warmth of my ancient Gerry Bear against my chest, the sound of a fan blowing the night-cooled air through the great room. Outside, tiny bats flitted, the moon glancing off their frenetic activity. I nearly slept through the night, which is rare these days, as my age goes up and my bladder gets smaller.
But my heart gets bigger every day. It was worth it. Every bump, bruise, injury, stitch, stitch in my side from laughing at my shit, all the pain and pressure along the way. I have no idea how long I will be here. I have no clue how long this will last.
And because of that, I am spending far more time focusing in the moment, watching the mating pair of Flickers attack my suet, listening to the Stellar’s Jays squawk and the squirrels scold, and watching the enormous firs sway in the afternoon breezes.
I am finally, magnificently, incredibly home.