And so the move is complete, and we’ve been settling in for the last few weeks, now. And finally, after 60 plus days of absolute stress, life is returning to normal, and with it, routine is creeping in. The routine is different, though, than that of the last 30-odd years of my life. While 99% of those years were spent living within a three square mile radius, I have just moved 22.3 miles, three counties, a new city, and even a different state away.
Ladies & Gentleman, Welcome to Vancouver, Washington.
Now, I’ll openly admit that never in a million years did I expect to find myself in Vancouver- affectionately (or not) known by Portlanders as The ‘Couve. In fact, it is widely known that merely the act of crossing The Mighty Columbia River into the Evergreen State that is Washington, reduces your coolness level by umpteen percent- that is, until you reach about 15 miles South of Seattle. I say this in spite of the fact that I know a lot of really cool people who live in The ‘Couve and/or Washington- Seattle, or otherwise. And now we join them, daring to do the un-cool, jumping the river that divides us.
While moving to The ‘Couve- also known by Portlanders as Vantucky, which ought to give you an idea of the stigma – was not what I expected, I threw the net wide in my search for a new home- about a 25 mile square radius from Bethany, the area in which I had spent so many years living life.
I had come to openly dislike Bethany, in spite of the many memories I had there and the many friends I had who continued to live there so happily. My feelings were no reflection on the area itself- Bethany was- and is a beautiful, peaceful community, and home to a host of wonderful people we call our friends.
But for me? I wanted out, my restless spirit ready to explore someplace new. In more than thirty years I had really never left – in spite of my vehement insistence at doing otherwise for the better part of my adult life. Instead, I anchored myself there- buying a home only 1/8 mile away from where I had lived from age 12 to 19, and for the next 22 years submerging myself in the community, in three different homes- all within a half mile of my childhood Oak Hills neighborhood. And all the while, I openly felt the need to seek a life away- and continually annoyed Jay at my vocal desires to do so.
I wanted to miss Bethany. I yearned to say goodbye, if only to come back again to visit. I wanted to drive slowly through the neighborhoods of my youth, counting the many houses I had been inside, and laughing about the memories that lived within their walls, long after they became inhabited by others. I wanted the anticipation to build as I came upon the home of my teens, the second house on the left of Oakmont Loop. I wanted to drive past my high school, and laugh as I recalled something long ago forgotten, perhaps even prompting a message to a friend long ago seen.
So, in this move, I wanted away and, with both kids out of school, it was my turn to do it. And so Vancouver, the ugly step-sister to Portland- three counties, a new city, and even a new state away from Bethany, has become our home for at least the next year. And I’m eager to explore a new place, and to see what The ‘Couve has to offer. I bet I’ll find a lot more cool than Portland’s snobby stigma allows.
This weekend, less than a month after leaving, we returned to Bethany for an evening. Good fortune found us in the unexpected company of countless friends and neighbors dining at the local Mexican restaurant we had frequented since our kids were young. The tight-knit community of the area that I had taken for granted for so many years was beautifully evident, and the evening returning “home” to Bethany was filled with love and laughter.
I had left Bethany feeling stuck in my sameness, desperate in my desire to try on something new for size, and eager to forge a new path outside of the place I had been for so many years. I returned and realized that I had roots there- deep friendships, and strong bonds forged through our common community. And at the end of the night, while I was just as happy to drive away to my new home nearly 25 miles North, I came to understand, a piece of me will always belong there, in that home that I left behind, and will forever remain rooted in the beautiful community of Bethany.