We recently made some big changes in our lives. Embarked on the next chapter as it were. We have uprooted ourselves and our beloved dogs, Barbara and Eddie, from the only way of life they have known, to return to our comfort zone: an urban neighborhood. Both Barbara and Eddie spent their entire lives on trails, breathing country air atop a mountain. Now, they walk sidewalks smelling every leaf and investigating every tree. It is sudden and it is an urban life for us all. They seem fine as we are all together. The biggest change: every conceivable convenience is right before us. It was the perfect choice.
10 years ago I could no longer cope with the rat-race existence of NYC. I had already been there 24 years at that point. Had reached all I the goals I had set for myself. The commute from Brooklyn into midtown became longer and longer and more fraught with anxiety every day. I was in a constant state of edginess. Occasionally, we would take our car, Dolores the Taurus, and make our way to Long Island’s wine country. We would daydream of farm living and serenity. Although we knew we could never afford the move, it was our personal dream….making the move to wine country.
Now, we all know there is no wine country in New Orleans, but I am from there, so I rallied for a move to that unique Southern city, full of food, old friends, luscious tropical foliage, oppressive weather, ancient architecture and dive bars…until Katrina hit. Gerry being from Portland rallied for the hipster locale.
I was dubious at best about Portland. We had been here once before. I took a look around and said, “It’s not even a city…it’s a town.” We came to Portland again in July 2007 to celebrate his dad’s 95th birthday. We decided while here to investigate wine country and booked a couple of evenings at the Black Walnut Inn in Dundee. As the car climbed the long driveway to our destination, I had no idea, that in a moment, we would turn a corner and POW! We would find ourselves transported to Tuscany. It looked like the villa we stayed in when we were married. I thought, “Done!” I put the Brooklyn Row House up for sale on Craig’s List. It sold for cash in a week. We were in Wine Country three months later.
So, for 10 years we lived on 5 acres, atop a mountain, in a rural part of Oregon wine country. It was a good life. Hell, it was a great life. We loved it. We were in heaven. Sometimes literally. And it was a life of adventures and travel. Deep friendships were formed. And there was so much learning! We learned about trees, what made for a good forest, where truffles lived, which mushrooms were legendary, that coyotes eat cats and howl like hyenas, that dozens of hummingbirds can keep you company year round when they live in a honeysuckle bush next to the house. I became proficient at gardening, graduated college (in spite of a spotty internet connection) and together we took on the elements every winter.
Once we were settled, G reunited with his grammar, high school and college mates who return to “Men’s Camp” every summer. The same summer camp he enjoyed as a boy! I formed a theater company where we put up some pretty fabulous shows on occasion. G was a great actor. My insecurities always got the better of me as an actress. But, in spite of myself, my one-woman show became something I was so proud of. I performed stand-up on occasion, served in Rotary and on the boards of various organizations. We were living full lives. It was marvelous! All this wondrous beauty with views of mountains and clean air and pure water bubbling up from a well and a sense of community. How could it get any better? Well, at times, I missed culture and convenience. Anytime you needed something or went somewhere it was a minimum of 30 minutes travel. Minimum.
After 8 or 9 years of living the good country life, I found when I looked out of our rows and rows of windows, I thought…I need to get the window cleaner out. When I looked out at the horizon, I saw the mountain view for a moment (half the time you couldn’t see the mountains due to the fog), and then I saw chores waiting for me. More and more chores piling up. There were chores for every season. Chores for every moment. Chores, tasks, to-dos. Chores and chores and more chores. That section of the forest needs thinning. We need to limb and buck those trees we felled last spring. Let’s get Chris and Raul out here to winterize. Let’s get Christ and Raul out here to spring clean. We need to build a burn pile and ask Brian to set it aflame! And, no matter how much money we poured into the property paying for help, not matter how much help we received from our generous, loving, knowledgeable, neighbors, there was always more to be done. Always. It became exhausting.
It was our own fault. We never invested in the proper equipment. We didn’t seem to have the right skill set for forestry. G certainly didn’t have the interest in “working the land”. Eventually, it became too much even for optimistic me, not to mention, the expense. Then, in 2017, we got a bug in our ear from a neighbor in Portland (more on that in a later blog). In April we began to entertain the idea of making a move. Then we decided to investigate making the move. By June, we decided to make the move. By September we moved.
So here we are in an up-and-coming neighborhood in NE Portland. Yep, we traded in our modern, single level, open-floor-plan home with massive windows, for a classic craftsman complete with massive pocket doors (designed to cut-off access to other rooms) and stairs and stairs and stairs. Stairs going everywhere. Most people at this point in their lives, would be making the opposite choice. Moving to a rural life of bliss. I have always heard a different beat from my drum.
This move has brought a level of happiness I have not felt in a while. And now, I am back to writing. With less to do in the house and garden, with no theater company, no boards, no meetings and no property to tend to, I have the luxury of time. I feel more energized than I have in ages. My optimism is back. I am back. I can think again. There is inspiration instead of lists occupying my mind. I can walk to the store in an instant, so I have time. Time is so wonderful at this stage in my life. So, I have a need, and a want to share stories that come to mind. My mind is afire with stories from my life thus far. I want to share my stories, about absolutely EVERYTHING. Let’s begin.