Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Home, and then Home

So. I went to Seattle for the wedding of Vee's best friend + now-wife, and it was utterly and completely exhausting. And I wasn't even in the wedding party! (Vee was best man)

My parents, Gramma Goose and Grampa PhD, along with my sister AKA, were kind enough to fly all the way out there just to babysit. Well, and be on vacation with us in the Pac NW, our first-of-homes, but really it was all because we needed someone to watch Kiddo.

We stayed on Bainbridge Island, a cluster of evergreens, hills, and hopelessly dreamy houses for the work-from-home too-cool-for-Seattle post-yups. I was disgustedly shaking my head at the idiosyncratic tropes that kept bursting against my skull whenever I looked up at the treeline and saw a line of fog (corny, CORNY phrases like "I would give up everything to see this everyday" or "This is what I am MEANT to live amongst"--the same repulsively childish comments I was telling myself when I was ten and we first moved away from Cor Or; believing in the DESTINY of my eventual life in the NW).


The flat rooflines of my dream houses, the yards of endlessly tall trees poking their spines against the gray sky, the cool temperature (in August! in August!): I basically relived my adolescence and mooned around the backyard of the rental house as Grampa PhD taught Kiddo how to scoot down the stairs inside, swooning about THE LIFE I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE LIVING!

I am an adult woman, with a husband and a child, a house and a job, and I was making bargains with myself (this alone should have tipped me off: the fact that I was still on the third Kubler-Rossian step) to justify moving there.


Dude, I love me some prairie, and I love the life I've built, but I was cornily explaining to myself THAT IT ALL NEEDED TO BE SACRIFICED IN ORDER TO GET BACK WHAT I HAD GIVEN UP FIFTEEN YEARS AGO!

(And no, I was not thinking of leaving my husband, or my child, or, frankly, even my job. Working from home STRIKES AGAIN!)

When I am in a landscape that touches me, I automatically start making Faustian bargains because I AM SUPPOSED TO BE LIVING THERE.

The landscape that affects me most strongly? The landscape of my childhood--what I learned to base everything against. Home is SUPPOSED to be heavily treed, the horizon cushioned with uninhabited hills, mountains visible beyond, fertile farms, idyllic sheep, houses built in the 40s and the 50s, recycling bins at the end of every driveway and no Wal-Mart in sight.

Emotions run high when I talk about my time in Cor Or because I was ten when we left, and if you can imagine, the four years that followed (5th-8th grade) were pretty hellish, and the contrast was so extreme that even IF I hadn't been so enveloped in the idea that, if we'd stayed there, my life would have been better, you would have been SURE my life was better.

This is the state I was in as AKA, Gramma Goose, Kiddo, and I drove down through the valley to the Valley (Willamette, thanks) for our ladies-only two-day adventure back to Cor and to the coast.

A STATE OF RAPTURE IN MY STATE OF RAPTURE! O OREGON! There was a REASON people gave up everything to seek HAPPINESS by following THE OREGON TRAIL to EDEN! (It does not help at. all. that the Willamette Valley was actually the valley of promise, the true and honest farmers' paradise where the settlers who were STRONG ENOUGH to PERSIST wound up)

But how can I say this (and then how can I SAY this? Isn't it blasphemy? Won't I be struck down by the MEs of fifteen years?)? I was disappointed. DISAPPOINTED. It WASN'T LIKE I REMEMBERED IT. (And, for the record, I had been back in '94, '03, and '05, so it's not like I hadn't been there since I was a kid)

The constant evergreens--still gorgeous. The hills on the edge of the valley--still comforting and enticing. But it WASN'T WHERE I WANTED TO BE ANY MORE. I don't think you can understand the level of bewilderment as I recognized that emotion. I was so completely and utterly BEWILDERED at my reaction to THE PLACE I HAD HALLOWED AS THE PINNACLE OF JOYFUL LIVING for fifteen years that I kept waiting to shake out of it, to recognize it back as WHERE I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE.


It didn't get any better. We drove up Marys Peak, we drove out to the coast, we drove through the coastal range, we drove to Portland. And I didn't see one place that fit my landscape NEED.


It was so confusing; I couldn't think of any way to describe it to Vee when I got home. It was like I peeled off a Band-Aid that had been there for fifteen years and underneath there was nothing there: no scar, no evidence I'd ever been wounded, no wound.

I am still working through my emotions, still sifting through what is left behind, what I have left behind, what I still need to leave behind. I know nothing, but I know this:

I am on the prairie, and I am home. And I love, love, love my life, more deeply and more intensely than I ever have before, because I know, with a bewildering new certainty, that there is no where, NO where, no where in my hidden secret if-I-were-only-living-here daydream life, that I want to be more than here.

And not there.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ho-ly. Wow.

Ok, seriously, I promise a real post tonight (or TOMORROW MORNING AT THE ABSOLUTE LATEST), but I CANNOT RESIST showing you this AMAZING ETSY FIND:

OH MY GOD, I AM LOSING MY SHIT! Can you even IMAGINE how on EARTH you could explain this to, say, your husband? Your boyfriend? Your meaningless-makeout?

"Oh, yes, I know that you thought I was a modern woman of the times, what with my natural-fiber rug, curly willow branch-in-a-vase, and bedroom window overlooking a bustling city. But GUYS, SERIOUSLY, did you not ALSO ascertain that I was the sort of woman who would have a wall cling of Edward Cullen?"

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tuesday Morning Scene

It's 9:45am, Tuesday morning, and the windows are closed this morning since the storms have left the air too humid.

Kiddo's fishy-smelling diapers are rinsing for the second time downstairs in the washer (thanks DESITIN: FUCK YOU. Who puts COD LIVER OIL in their diaper cream? A better question: who DOESN'T READ THE LABELS before using an ointment on their Kiddo?), and she is handing me her Hawaiian Lady and her Traveling Lady alternately, then shoving them back in my hands when I try to give them to her.

The coffeemaker is beeping as I try to squeeze two cups of coffee out of the childsize handful of beans we have left, and the coffee will be too watery to drink although I don't know it yet.

I'm sitting on the couch in a yoga tank and yoga pants, not doing yoga and not intending to do yoga, reading from a collection of Joan Didion essays, and I start crying in a very Joan-Didion-1967 way when I finish "On Going Home" because she brings her daughter "home" (which is to say, the place where her family lives in central California) for her daughter's first birthday, and Joan "would like to give her home for her birthday, but we live differently now and can promise her nothing like that."

I pick Kiddo up in a moment of self-pity and put her on my lap and tell her I want to give her home, but she shoves "The Tale of Peter Rabbit" in my face and announces "BNEE! BNEE!" while pointing at Peter and squirms out of my grip, because you cannot miss home if you do not know what it is like to be without it.