*July 9, 2013*
Today was my first day back in Eugene, and the first place I’ve left and returned to since I’ve embarked on this journey. People have asked me what I like about the places I’ve been to and which I like most, and when I talk about Eugene, it feels like everything. I spent most of the day working on cleaning/organizing projects, which admittedly made me feel productive and relaxed, giving me a kind of a settling in feeling, but I decided I needed to go for a walk during the cooling evening-into-dusk hours to separate myself from the projects I had been entrenched in and the still, hot air that shrouded the inside. I needed the fresh air and would hopefully find some writing inspiration and clarity along the way.
It was a beautiful evening. A quiet Tuesday where most people are laying low amidst the work week, or attempting to let the hot weather ride itself out; either way, there wasn’t much going on. I easily floated back to previous walks through the neighborhood with my tour guide the last time I was there, occasionally remembering a moment with such a crispness that it made me question that it had occurred over three weeks ago. What do I love about Eugene…
For me, and I suspect at least some of the crew of 20+ who stayed at the Kehlet Mansion/Meeks Bay for the best wedding weekend I’ve ever witnessed, the energy on Sunday was somewhat connected to the exhaustion and both the alcohol and emotional hangovers everyone was beginning to recover from; for our newlywed couple, it was in fact the first day of the rest of their lives. For others, it was the last day of summer before school started, and for so many more unmentioned, it seemed like either the day after something ending or the day before something new began. For all intensive purposes, it was the lull day, and based on the conversations I was having with everyone I spoke with, it seemed like the event or the location didn’t make a difference because everyone was feeling the same energy.
It was as though the 24th was the last day of summer and the 26th was the first day of fall, and the 25th was just this calm, almost motionless, pause of a day in between. I know fall doesn’t technically start until September 22nd, almost a month away, but I feel this energy every year, right around the time school starts; even when I’m not in school, I was enough of a nerd my entire life that I always looked forward to starting school and the long, too-hot summer finally starting to cool down, and in a place like Reno-Tahoe, you can always tell if school’s in or not based on how busy things are at the lake. This year, that energy seemed to be even more pronounced because of the summer adventure I was on, and the wedding weekend serving as a huge culmination, and final event, of this wild summer ride. I may have mentioned before, this wedding was the one and only thing that I was certain of all summer, or all year for that matter; I knew my plans would change, the destinations of my trip would vary, and that the future was a grand mystery, but I also knew that no matter what, I would be in Tahoe to celebrate the wedding of two of my dearest friends. And now it’s over.
Ceremonies, traditions, milestones… All of the special moments that mark significant points in life have been at the forefront of my mind these days. In just over a week of my return to Reno, I have been surrounded by all of these and I’ve been observing the meaning and effects they have on the people who are involved. Spending a week at a cabin in Tahoe with my family is somewhat of a family tradition, my cousin proposed to his amazing girlfriend just before his arrival, one of my best friend’s is getting married this weekend, my 10-year high school reunion is this weekend, and Burning Man starts on Monday (though I’m not attending either of the last two events, their significance and impact on their communities have not escaped me). Apparently, late August and the end of summer is a time that is saturated for celebrations!
As I mentioned in my last blog, I successfully finished the book I had been reading, and one of the most interesting parts of finishing it was how it so perfectly related to what has been happening around me. In The Solace of Open Spaces, the author discusses two events that take place in Wyoming, which are based around traditional Native American celebrations, describing the course of transformation, “It was an old ritual: separation, initiation, return… They would return changed.” There is potential for transformations to occur whether you’re going on a summer road trip, banishing yourself to the desert community of Burning Man, getting engaged or married, or whatever other ceremony or milestone you are participating in.
I have a problem with finishing things; or not finishing things? I don’t have a problem unless I don’t finish the things I start, so whichever way that dilemma is stated, that is what I have. I’ve been reading the book The Solace of Open Spaces which is about a woman who gives up her city life in New York to become a sheepherder in Wyoming. I didn’t know just how much the book would be about the life of a sheepherder in the late 70’s/early 80’s (it really doesn’t mention that at all on the cover), so I figured it would be a great book for me to be reading as I wandered through the wide open spaces of Montana and Wyoming. It started out pretty intriguing with her descriptions of the vast open lands in Wyoming, and admittedly as I started reading it in Montana, it sparked little flares of excitement about the journey I was about to embark on. A couple nights before I left Montana, I read a quote that resonated so strongly with me that I thought it might’ve been the reason I read the book – “to be tough is to be fragile, to be tender is to be truly fierce.” I read on, hungry for more wisdom from the woman who sought out a little more rough & wild lifestyle than she had been accustomed to.
Unfortunately, part of the way through my trip/reading, I hit a lull. I wasn’t prepared for what seemed like endless pages and chapters solely describing what life was like as a sheepherder back in the day, and I felt like I wasn’t really able to connect with the book anymore. I dragged my feet when it came to continuing reading, but when asked why I didn’t just stop and move on, I noted that I have a problem with not finishing things. Over two-thirds through the book now, I couldn’t just leave it unfinished or it would bother me until I eventually sought it out to finish or dreamed endlessly of what might’ve happened in those last pages.
Stories from the road-trip that inspired moving to the PNW, and other travel adventures.