I Will Always

I will always think fondly of California’s warmer winters as I shiver here up north. Something in me refuses to fully embrace the Pacific Northwest cold. At the same time, I will always appreciate springtime here; the jubilance of those first radiant hellebores, the indefatigable daffodils waving their bright colors like flags, the bright glow of skunk cabbage in a swamp, and trillium, delightful spring harbingers, the robins of the flower world. Just when I practically give up, give in, and withdraw into a mossy ball in the corner of the couch, spring awakens outside and in.

Magnolia caps

This week I’ve been watching the velvety magnolia blossom caps fall off one by one onto our back patio. Fresh white petals peek out, no longer fitting inside the furry skins. Soon after, the strewn caps on the ground are replaced by the fallen blossoms, a carpet of white. But from here it’s hard to imagine the tree’s full coat of green leaves that comes next, and that I’ll be grateful for the verdant shade they provide against the too hot sun. I remember, but it’s still pouring rain, and summer heat isn’t lit in me quite yet.

I will always think of California as my home. I will always have lived there longer than I’ve lived in Oregon. It’s in my blood – the beaches and pelicans, the mountains and sparkling granite, the valleys of juicy citrus and firm avocados. The barely changing seasons – at least where I spent my time. It’s a big state.

I will always think of Oregon as an adventure; surprising, something to get used to, and somewhat foreign. I didn’t expect to still feel this way after almost nine years. The people I love most are here, and we’ve created a good life, but one reason I keep writing about the places I go is that I have to process it all again every time I walk out the door. I’m charmed like a tourist at every blossoming shrub or flower, every forest or backyard bird, every conifer I pass, every river and creek, every roadside taken over by wild blackberry bushes, every street with a canopy of dense branches, every graceful bridge I cross, every thundering waterfall, even every building and store. It’s always a tad exotic, alien, and often marvelous, as if I’m visiting a foreign land. Perhaps it’s like speaking a language that’s not your mother tongue, with a sense of something that is “other.”

I will always remember how it felt when I tired of the warm bath of my old home town. It got too familiar, too comfortable, and too predictable. I stopped seeing the unique beauty, and stopped taking time to try new things. So many times I’ve sought out transformation, creating big life shifts by changing my environment – a new apartment, or house, or city, or country, new roommates, new partners – I’ve always felt infused with a sense of adventure, an excitement and wildness that’s difficult to experience without a big shift. Moving to Oregon was the right time, the right place, and with the right people. I’m still riding that wave of enchantment.

I will always peek around the corner to see what’s next, what’s possible, and find a new challenge. I’m often (always?) reluctant in the moment, given over to fear, doubt, or laziness. I will always push change away as eagerly as I later embrace it. It’s just human; we seek out stasis. But curiosity is always a fire worth stoking.

I suspect I will always feel new and challenged here. I can always shut the door behind me and withdraw into my comfortable home. We’ve dug in, our familiars are around us. It keeps us safe and supported. From here I can bring in as much of the world as I’m willing to, before heading out into the adventure out there.

There’s always something new to see, no matter how familiar. I travel back to California fairly often, and now see it with new eyes, appreciating it in a new way. I hope it’s always that way.

Despite our lifetime of experience with change, something within us never stops insisting on stability. Any change, even a change for the better, can feel a little unnerving because it seems to expose our underlying uncertainty about life. We’d rather think we have firm ground to stand on than see clearly that everything is always in transition. We’d rather deny the reality of continual change than accept the way things are.

Pema Chodron

10 thoughts on “I Will Always

  1. “. . . withdraw into a mossy ball in the corner of the couch . . .” That’s my favorite line. While I, a PNW native, am more likely to moan about having to roll out the door, more reluctant to leave the cozy than to come back in in the winter. You are clearly in love with two places, two homes; a lucky thing, I think. Thank you for the Pema Chodron quote. Change is unnerving, and constant. Your example to get up off the couch in mid-whine inspires me. I will soon be ready to shake off the moss and march out the front door and onto a mountain trail, sooner than the weather will be alignment. At least it’s warmer than it was a few days ago! And after tonight, no rain in the 10-day. It’s coming! Write on, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was such good medicine to get out and about and enjoy the city this week – I just needed a few days of no torrential downpour!! Or hail. Or snow. or wind. We’ll keep inspiring each other I think, so happy about that!! Thanks Gretchen.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. How often you say what I can only feel. Our experiences are so incredibly similar, (33 years in SB and now almost 10 here). Often I feel bad that I haven’t acclimated here as well as I’d assumed I would but we are both blessed to love two places and have people we love in each.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I will always love the rain and cold and the Pacific NW! Isn’t funny how we have such different feelings about place. I can’t imagine living anywhere else (except maybe the Oregon coast). I’m glad you’re here, even though your heart is sometimes elsewhere!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “It’s just human; we seek out stasis. But curiosity is always a fire worth stoking.”
    Brilliant. Whether it’s Cal or the Rose City, may you live like the lotus, at home in muddy water.

    (I love to read your words. Thank you*)

    Liked by 1 person

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