Living Where I Live: Words from the Rock
I am living in Portland, Oregon, but in a few weeks I am moving back to Massachusetts. Portland is, as all cities are according to those who love them, the place to be. Which is why I moved here, and at the time that was enough to move. What makes it the place to be? I’ve asked locals and some of their responses are…You can grow anything and never have to pick up a watering can. The meat and veggies are as tasty as they get. There is a food cart for every comfort food you could possibly crave. There’s no better spot if you have a passion for recycling. The beer is amazing. Bicyclists own the roads. The people are kind—aggressively so.
I get lost in this city but I can get lost anywhere, and it seems I prefer to get lost most days.
Some days I must take the deepest inhale I can muster, scrunch up my face, close my eyes, and point my index finger forward. From here I turn in circles until I have the spins. When I open my eyes I go in the direction my pointed finger tells me. Today it was here.
I was prepared to lounge on the beach reading the newest Nick Hornby novel and eating dried mangoes.
I found myself walking down the beach freezing my butt off in my rain jacket getting closer and closer to this rock (I must mention this is more than just a rock, it is the rock from the 1985 movie The Goonies) for some reason I needed to get close to it like it had something to tell me or I had something to tell it.
I approached it and stood for a while, just staring, cold and wet. Finally I heard this ringing in my ear: you get to be okay, you get to be okay, you get to be okay. It was the perfect phrase to hear while standing in the rain. I opened my mouth and spoke out loud a familiar saying of mine—good-bye— to this rock, to this city, to this coast. The good-bye began to expand and say good-bye to more than this rock, city, and coast but something deeper, something I’ve held to so tightly it’s become a big part of me. It was good-bye to the beliefs and pursuits of skipping over all of this. It was good-bye to a yearning, to not have to sit still in my life. It was good-bye to thinking that I could somehow avoid really having to live this experience if I just keep moving. Having said my good-byes, I walked back along the beach, got inside my car, and drove back to Portland, this still echoing in my ear: you get to be okay.