I sit here in a room of clutter, packing paper, some filled boxes and a lot of chaos. I have a hand made 60 day calendar up on the chalkboard pantry doors where I usually write myself reminders or put up the menu for a party so I won’t forget to serve one of the dishes. I’m moving. After 22 years, I’m pulling up stakes and getting out of Dodge. (how did Dodge ever become the term for leaving?) after 61 years in Southern California, I’m emigrating to Oregon.
Back when Dan and I were married, we talked about moving out of LA someday. He leaned towards Yucca, but I was pulling for someplace cooler and greener. We never arrived at a consensus, but it didn’t matter. He didn’t live long enough for us to have a real serious conversation. After he died, four and a half years ago, I sought to stay put, so stay as close to my memory of happiness as possible. The truth is, I rarely left the house for a couple of years. Well, maybe not rarely, but I really clung to our home, to my backyard, to the hot tub, our bedroom.
About a year ago I started thinking more seriously about moving. I thought seriously about the truth that I am a widow (it changes my dynamic with EVERYONE – and that’s a story for another piece), a nearly empty nester, and I was developing a serious aversion to heat and traffic. I don’t exactly know how it happened, but I realized, if not now, when? I’ll only get older. 61 struck me as the perfect time to make a new life. I’d been reading Realtor.com religiously every night, and it might have been seeing a Treehouse that jumped me into action. That house was just stunning, unusual, artsy, windows to the trees of southwest Portland and an attractive price. So, I started putting the pieces together to explore.
My Mom friends and I went up to Portand to visit a friend in December. Carmen had lived here, and we had talked about the allure of the PNW, but she did it. Being there in December, it was cold, sunny, and fantastic. I had a great time. Then between Christmas and New Years, my newly high school graduated daughter Milly and I went to Bainbridge Island. I wanted a lot of winter weather to confirm that I could take it. It was glorious. It had snowed the days before we arrived, but just lightly. I remember standing at the shore, with the misty rain and the fog and cold, and holding my arms out welcoming it all. I felt like the girl in The Shape of Water, as though I’d opened my gills to the mist and wet and belonged.
With those experiences, I decided I should start the process, see what would hold. I met with a realtor here, a woman I’ve been friends with in my Moms circle. We didn’t sign anything, but she gave me a idea of what I could sell for. I made a date to go to Portland for 5 days, meet a realtor and just LOOK. I’d been considering Monterey and Santa Cruz, but you really don’t get enough for your money there. Plus, Portland is a perfect blend of fabulous urban and glorious nature rolled into each and every block.
Carmen made my visit utterly divine! She had researched everything in my price range, she scoured Open Houses the weekend before my visit, she visited the Treehouse, she even made sure I had some good old legal Portland weed to make me feel welcome and she put me up.
I spent all day with Carm and my new Portland realtor and by Saturday afternoon, I’d found my home. What a rush! The whole in and out of that process maybe the subject of another post, but by the time the airplane doors closed on my return to LA, I had made an offer on the house and been accepted by the time the plane landed. It was on!
I am on that train to true independence. I’m moving to a place where I knew a few people, but not enough to make a life. That will be my mission. I will make a new community of souls, I will explore a new hiking trail, I will be in a home that I make and that will be the place where my children can come and go, bring their friends, their children, their cats, their dogs, their hopes and we will all exist in a new and evolving form. I want them to know that when we bring our selves genuinely and hopefully to something new, we can thrive. I hope to.
Now I just have to put my life into boxes and go.