September 12, 2013
After almost three months since my last visit to the Oregon coast, I have finally returned for a long weekend of camping alone. Less than two weeks ago, I attempted to make a more permanent move to Eugene in the context of an unstable work/living situation, which was quickly falling apart. Unsure of what was going to happen and what my next move would be, revisiting the place I felt most independent and inspired seemed like an appropriate place to reevaluate.
Since my return yesterday, I have been overcome with joy, happiness, awe, and excitement, and even wrote an Ode to the Oregon Coast during last night's sunset. The stunning surroundings have lifted my mood immensely and the natural silence of the environment spiked my creativity as I turned my attention inward. And just like my first visit to the Oregon coast in June, I felt like being here was what my soul needed.
Before departing Seattle to return to the coast, I made some connections that lead to introductions to very interesting, like-minded people, whose company would eventually lead to inspiring conversations and new adventures. The best part of these connections was the simple reminder that interacting with like-minded and passionate people has a somewhat contagious effect... I felt reinvigorated about my plans and goals and could feel my energy resurfacing in spite of the challenges I'd recently been facing.
Alas! It is March 1st and it is one of my favorite days; not only because it's the first of the month, but also because it is March. Daylight savings is one week away and although we lose an hour of sleep, the daylight in our evenings will suddenly extend, giving the feeling that we will have the elusive and ever-desired "extra hours in a day." And, with March, I know that the arrival of Spring is trailing just behind it.
February was one wild rollercoaster filled with ups and downs, highs and lows, periods of insane, slow-moving, patient-testing waiting, and equally opposite fast-paced, non-stop, no-rest-for-the-wicked whirlwinds. I try to appreciate life in all of it's changing, unique patterns, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who is grateful to wish fickle, fierce February farewell!
I welcome March with excitement, joy, and gratitude, feeling this resurgence of energy flooding happily into my body and soul. Much like my feelings on the first of the month, I have also written before of gratitude - otherwise known as "The Science of Happiness." So, to celebrate the first and March and spring with gratitude, I've composed a list of everything I am grateful for at the moment. Perhaps it will inspire some joy and gratitude for you as well...
*September 25, 2013*
I’ve been known to take some pretty epic falls. I’m not talking about a little trip, or slide to one knee, but full-blown face plants and bleacher blowouts; the kinds of falls where you hear everyone gasp and hold their breath, waiting to see if something is broken or if they can laugh at the ridiculous failure of my feet.
At one of UNR’s biggest football games, I was walking with a friend in front of the boxes, and ended up slipping and falling down seven rows of bleachers, in front of hundreds of people. At my own birthday party, I was walking with a group of about 20+ people to a baseball game, and when a friend tried to give me a "flat tire," I actually ended up flying into the air and landing, arms and face first into the pavement. But every time it happens, I get up, brush myself off, and am the first to laugh at the hilarity that seems so epic it could’ve been staged on a sitcom. Bruised and limping, I play it off, knowing that if it weren’t me, I’d probably be laughing too, and that in a day or two (or perhaps a couple weeks when they’re really bad) it’ll all be forgotten as that one time I fell like a bumbling fool.
Home… What a concept for contemplation, and one that is particularly highlighted when traveling. If you look up the definition for ‘home,’ you will find thirty-one different options, not counting the sub-headings; for example, just in relation to nautical adverbs for home, there are three different definitions, “into the position desired; perfectly or to the greatest possible extent: sails sheeted home,” being one of my personal favorites. But the home I’m talking about is the first and most familiar definition: “a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.”
Having moved out of my apartment in the first half of May, I haven’t had a place of my own since then. At the end of August, I realized that there was only one place in the last few months, that I had spent two weeks or more, and it only happened once. As we’re approaching six months since I’ve moved out, I’ve estimated that most of the time I stay in a place for about 2-5 nights, with only the very occasional 7-10; and by magic, kindness, and generosity, I stayed in one place for almost a month in October. I think, by definition, I might be considered "home-less," but I often feel it is quite the contrary.
aka: Coastal Love, pt. 1
*June 14 & 15, 2013*
**All italic quotes are taken directly from journal entries, which were added just prior to posting**
Upon waking up in Crescent City, CA, grateful to have my car troubles in the past, I decided I was ready to leave California. California has always been kind of like a backyard to me, born in San Diego and living in Reno, it was never too far to get to the Golden State. Until this trip, I had never really spent time in northern California, so I was happy to for the chance, but decided that although the characteristics associated with living in California (such as the high cost of living, large populations, etc), may be mitigated in the north, they were still present. It’s a beautiful land, filled with easy-going hippies, and while it’s a great place to visit, I wasn’t feeling the calling to stay there much longer.
Trusting my gut has been a big theme in this trip; from the moment I started considering it, I needed to find my own confidence and certainty, despite any naysayers I would encounter. Throughout the trip, my plans have been consistently changing; being able to trust my intuition, and the little voice in my heart that sings when I’m in the right place and goes mute in the wrong ones, has been a challenge to consistently listen to and follow. But on this lovely morning, there was no hesitation; I packed up camp and headed into Oregon.
*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.
July 15th. I’m stuck in the middle! I’ve been wandering for about two months now, and have just under one month before my planned return to Reno; though, for how long I will return is still undecided. I feel like I’m, roughly, in the middle of this summer journey, by definition in the exact middle of July, and seemingly, in the middle of any decision-making processes I may be attempting. Originally I had planned to be making my way towards western BC by now, but due to the nature of traveling, and the ever-changing plans, detours, & unexpected adventures, I’ve found myself approximately, and quite synchronistically, in the middle of Oregon. I’m literally and figuratively, ‘stuck in the middle.’ In regards to this portion of my adventure, I have one month ahead of me and weeks of stories behind me, but I’ve been stuck with traveler’s indecision and writer’s block. Where to go from here??
Usually I’m all about balance, tending to believe that the middle ground is the most stable and provides the most equilibrium – usually a place I like to be or strive for. But there is one regard in which I am starting to question that logic, and I may just be turning into an extremist of a very specific kind…
Stories from the road-trip that inspired moving to the PNW, and other travel adventures.