Friday, October 03, 2008
Doesn't Seem Like It's Been That Long At All

It's funny -- I've spent most of a year considering this post, but now that it's come time to write it, I'm having trouble.

A year ago tonight I rolled into town in a car with no tail lights and one headlamp out. It was raining that night, a bit like tonight, and I missed most of the Columbia Gorge because I spent the last two hours of the trip trying to keep my car between the lines on the road. When I got in, I was exhausted, my hands trembling from stress, I had no idea where I was or what would greet me, but I was glad to be off the road and ready to get started in my new city.

The year since has been a little bit of a mixed bag. There were some losses, some disappointments. But in retrospect, I've managed to pull off most of what I hoped to do during this first year. I moved and made it stick; I've worked consistently, if not always contentedly; I've made more new friends than I left behind in Memphis; I've done at least a little bit of work in my preferred field; I've gotten to know the city a little bit and have established a few regular spots. I went to the coast, I went to a few shows, I taught some kids how to make films, I read a huge pile of books. I have a comfortable little room. I still have my car, but not for much longer -- I've got a bike, and I'm riding it a lot. I've met so many people that I now recognize someone almost everywhere I go. I've drunk with an opera singer, met both the current mayor and the next mayor, and I've held someone else's Oscar. I found a beer I think is tolerable. I've wandered the streets at 2AM. I've tried the donut with the bacon on it. I've gotten rained on a lot. I don't have all the people around me that I would've wished, but I've got the friends I need, if not all the friends I want. My job sucks, but it's not the worst I've had, and many days I feel relatively lucky to have a job at all. My life isn't yet everything I dreamed it would be, but it's a pretty good start.

Portland itself is amazingly hospitable. Almost everything I want is here; I've never gone without. And a year on, this still feels like a place I could finally establish a long-term life, a place that could serve as home, or at least home-base. I spent much of the first thirty years of my life on the move, constantly leaving people behind; now that I'm settling in here, it has occurred to me that I might be entering a phase where I am the one being left. Already I've made friends with new(er) arrivals who've since moved on to the next place -- it's a weird feeling to watch people go. I've never really done much of that before. But it feels like it's probably my turn, and that it'll all work out okay.

There's a lot of work still to do. I have to forge some kind of working life for myself that doesn't involve selling books (at least not retail.) There is so far still nobody here who really knows me, but there are a few potential candidates hanging around. And there's still a whole city left to map out -- I've got the outlines down and I've roughed in a few details, but much of Portland is still a generality to me. I have a beginning, but no history. But that's the point of staying, I suppose.

So by and large it's been a good first year. I'm happier on the whole than I have been in a long time, since London at least, and whatever sadness has come along hasn't been enough to throw me too far off-track. I was thinking recently that the trip I made to get here turned out to be analogous to my time in Portland so far -- some setbacks, slower than I'd hoped, with moments of serious doubt whether I was going to make it at all. But whatever else happens, and however frustrating my lack of progress is at times, I have never yet failed to get where I was going in the end. And that'll be true with this as well.

I have no idea what my second year in town will bring. Unlike this time last year, I have no real expectations, just the hope that a year from today my life will have changed again. You'll know as soon as I do.
8:34 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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