Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Scary West Coast

This morning, for the first time since this whole process began (deciding to move, actually driving my car and my stuff from NJ to OR, and arriving in Portland) I was seized with panic and the feeling of, "Why did I move to this scary new place?"
It took me an hour to leave my apartment to go to Panera--the first item on the day's To Do List, because I needed breakfast (grocery shopping is also on my to-do list) and needed their free Internet (Google Maps) to accomplish other items on the to do list. I kept putting off leaving because I would have to...for the first time...drive in Portland...ALONE.
Nevermind that driving in Portland is maybe 10% as scary and maybe 30% as confusing as driving in New Jersey. In fact, I would say that driving in Portland as someone who just moved here is 40% as confusing as driving in New Jersey as someone who lived in New Jersey for 25 years.
Anyway, as I was driving on Scary 122nd Ave with its Scary Lack of Traffic and Scary Two Straight Clearly-Marked Lanes and Scary Gas Stations and Scary Safeway I saw...a fabric store! I looked it up and saw that it is a rather large store that carries fashion fabric (not just upholstery fabric) and it is open today!
Suddenly, Portland does not seem Scary.

Yesterday was my first full day in Portland. It was Independence Day; I could write all kinds of cheesy things about that. In fact, I could write a lot of cliche (and actually interesting) things about this whole big weird series of events that began in May 2008. But I will do that later. I'll just quickly sum it up as--a year ago, I was living in New Brunswick, in that apartment that I irrationally loved, having just completed driving across the country, not knowing where I'd live in September, believing I would not be able to drive across the country for at least another decade, feeling conflicted because I liked certain aspects of my job but because I was told I was not allowed to go to graduate school (!!! more on THAT later, I'm sure) feeling distraught that I was postponing my real dream (a PhD/research)...I forgot where this sentence was going. But since then and now, I found an apartment in Morristown and moved out of it, quit my first Real Job, and many other Important Things. I began to feel settled and at home in my new apartment and job, and just as quickly felt like it could never be home. (Does that means home is 3,000 miles away? I don't know.) I also drove across the country a second time. A year ago, I spent a significant amount of time staring at photos of the Rocky Mountains (and probably also the Alps, because they kinda look alike) and photos of redwoods in the Pacific Northwest, pining.
And then yesterday, I saw/walked among/hugged redwoods.

It was so strange to be back in places I was last summer, when I could not have imagined I would be back only 13 months later.

Anyway, I've done some Portland-centric sightseeing. I've seen Multnomah Falls, the Japanese Garden at Washington Park, the Rose Garden and Hoyt Arboretum again, the Portland Saturday Market (which might be called something else), the gigantic bookstore, and I had dinner at the Kennedy School. Today, I am going to actually unpack and clean and drive to work so I don't get lost tomorrow morning.

Once I have regular Internet, I'll write about interesting things that happened while I lived in Morristown, interesting things that happened on the road (such as The Indiana Travel Center Incident), and more. One event in particular, which has been scrawled on a napkin in my purse for weeks, can pretty much be summed up by its title: The Time I Gave Someone a Used Toothbrush as a Birthday Gift.

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