We – the beautiful Hannah and I- live in a nomadically transplanted city. Most people aren’t from here and most won’t stay… as we are learning. People come for work, school or adventure often in their 20s and stay as long as they can or want. The city houses a lot of people with grand dreams and plans who hang out until another job, partner or dream pulls them away. We came as part of that group.
The beautiful Hannah has over a decade here. I have lived here four times as long as anywhere else in my adulthood and am approaching that decade mark too. We have lived in multiple parts of the city and are on the edge of it now it sometimes feels. The mountain can be seen from our patio window when the leaves are gone and the sun is out. The coast is an easy drive away and allows us to have lunch after a nice drive if we have a free day to play. The food is amazing. The beers were good and hopefully will be when we can go out again. People are generally laid back and welcoming. And even though it is touted as the Whitest City in (US) America and part of the Least Churched Region in North America, we have many people of other colors in our inner circle…and our “local” church. People think and act similar enough to us for us to feel accepted. We don’t get weird looks for talking to homeless or people with special needs. We can own chickens, garden and buy only from the edges of the grocery store without judgment and know a lot of others that do the same.
We really like it here. We have a house in a neighborhood that has a lot of real locals. We have our spots, our stores, our communities, our old and new neighborhoods and the beautiful Hannah has a career at a school that won’t be transferred or moved. We plan to be here a long time.
But we are consistently saying good bye to friends with whom we have connected it feels. They move because of work promotions. Because they want to move closer to family before having kids. Because it was a short term thing that lasted many years and is now over. Because parents need them back home. Or because housing is silly expensive and they didn’t buy a place yet and can’t imagine living paycheck to paycheck just to stay here. Whatever the reason, Junior has a lost a lot of friends as have we and we realized we need to start making more connections again. And in chatting with people we have heard that many are planning to head back “home” at some point. When the kids need to go to school, or when it’s time to have kids, or when they need a real job.
The beautiful Hannah and I initially bonded over not wanting to live near where we were raised again. Shortly after we met we began to make Portland our city together. We shared with each other what we loved. We started combining traditions, routines, drinking spots, eating spots, and friends. We made our home and are strengthened ourselves in the communities that would take us. Those communities changed and shifted with marriage, work changes, and Junior and his demands. And they change substantially when close friends move to green pastures they find or dream.
Leaving is not our plan or story it seems. So I guess we are a little different here but that’s ok.
As I write this, Neil my robot vacuum is cleaning. And all I can think about is lack of money. How we make spontaneous decisions that require money, generally not budgeted money. How we decide things will pay off eventually, but struggle to see the rewards. Somehow getting chickens was supposed to reduce our grocery budget. And even though we haven’t bought eggs since July, we haven’t had extra on that line. How growing a garden still has kept us in the red. How going to the farms in the area to pick berries, beans and peaches has filled our freezer but not our budget lines.
I like to see rewards and there don’t seem to be any. It might be because costs are slowly rising everywhere. Or it might be that we decide to add more line items to the budget.
A couple weeks ago, stressed about seating and storage we decided we will build an addition to our dining room. It will be amazing but even planning for it we noticed it will wipe out 20% of savings. But both the beautiful Hannah and I think it will make the house more “livable”.
Last week we made the incredibly adult decision to buy a car at a party. We went to say good bye to friends we were connecting with again because they were moving away and back to family. And while I checked into how move prep was going for them we ended up test driving a car. And then a couple days later had a payment contract and they took 60% of our savings as a down payment. We wanted a car instead of a truck because, well, an older standard cab Ford Ranger is not a family car. Junior can sit in it but the seats don’t conform to the car seat like a standard family car for some reason. So he just bumps and sways. Which of course he loves, but I imagine his foot kicking the door handle open, and his bumping seat flinging him through some magical serious events through the straps into a mailbox. We had talked about upgrading and about selling the Ranger, but didn’t actually plan for it. So now we have 3 vehicles and no leads on going down to two.
Also now, we don’t really have savings, as we go into winter, which has increased costs. But the beautiful Hannah gots a raise at her work. And in the middle of writing this, I sold a lawnmower. Talk about multitasking! Apparently this is what we do to get by, or what SAH parents do to pay bills. At least that is what I have heard. But they don’t have robot vacuums.
PS. Here is the link for the Ranger if you know anyone and missed it above. https://portland.craigslist.org/mlt/cto/5811924702.html
Seventeen years ago today I got news that changed the rest of my life. News of a tragic and fatal automobile accident that took my father from me. Recently it has led me to start rethinking about how to chronicle the 10 years I spent being a 19 year old. How it took me a long time to deal with the loss and how “dealing with it” often meant just moving on and accepting. How I ran from responsibility, keep relationships at arm’s length and never admit any internal pain publically. Rehashing the memories the last few months has led me into some really bad and difficult mental spots. Occasionally more difficult than the six or so months of bad depression immediately after Dad died. It probably has a lot to do with how I am repeating his life.
How I am struggling for an occupational identity
How I want to write but struggle to find the time to make it a priority
How projects start small but become massive and time consuming and require a village to implement
How I am staying home with my son instead of working like he did for at least a few years before I was in high school
How I have to wear glasses, have more fake teeth than real, and how my body aches every morning before I am 40
How blue collar work sounds noble to us but leads to more of those morning aches than it is worth
But like him I learning about how simple life can be if you let it. He was often amazed by things teenage me thought were boring. How driving for hours on end or sitting in the woods recharges the soul and yet leaves you with nothing still to talk about. How watching the same movies or shows is often more exciting than finding something new to watch in the limited time to sit you have. I have also started annoying the beautiful Hannah while I read placards at museums and monuments when she just looks at the pictures and wants to keep moving. “Because words matter and paint pictures better in our memories” or something like that.
It does make me a little sadder every year to realize that Junior will never have a Grandpa even for just a few years like I did. That we won’t have multiple generations in a picture on Facebook like friends will. That he won’t hear Grandpa Jim’s horrible jokes or stories that change slightly every time they are told.
I don’t know why it is harder this year than last to fathom the loss of a Grandpa for my son. Maybe because he would be able to ask for him now. And run to him and grab a phone to call like he does his grandmothers and great-papa. Or because I would be able to watch and learn from him and that is what I am missing.
So instead I have to tell the bad jokes and make myself available to play and laugh with him. And try to remember Dad’s stories so I can pass them on.
Miss you Dad.
Writer’s note- This time of year depresses me. I am doing okay—family—and am working through how to figure out life in its newest revelation. Thanks for understanding and letting me still be public with thoughts.
For the last couple years I have been pondering career. A lot. I have thrown out the idea many times that 80% of people don’t like the job they have but they are a needed part of making everything work. This is the similar excuse I used when I wasn’t trying to be artistic or dream while working a dead end office job.
“Someone has to send overpriced and over-marketed products around the country”
It was also this thinking that gave me just a little bit of pride when I started working a blue collar, unionized service job.
But I don’t think I think that anymore.
While walking with Junior to a local South Asian market the other day, I noticed how many people were out and about not working and starting overthinking and making stories for them. I profiled them by clothing and language. Some by the language they spoke, but most by the language they used…around a 20 month old, “Come on Trent!”
This happened again when I went to a children friendly café for music time yesterday. I noticed how many parents were there with just one child…like me. And how they interacted with said child. Again I profiled by clothing and language. This time almost entirely by the words they used. Some looked exhausted enough to be stay at home parents. They wore hoodies and flannel mostly. Others might have been au pairs or nannies because they talked about dreams of travel and more kids. And shopped at a mall it seemed. And a few others were awkwardly wrangling a child on an awkward day away from their office. And had collars on their shirts.
Which has led me to wonder if we in Portland and most other cities have reached a carrying capacity. We have a lot of stores, shops, restaurants, businesses and homes that all seem to stay filled. They all seem to have the needed workers and clientele, because if they didn’t have that mix they wouldn’t exist right? So instead of having to sweep and mop floors, or answer phone calls, or pick up garbage, some people latch hook the Golden Girls for coffee shop art. Others run the 600th coffee shop in town or third neighborhood bar or newest fine dining establishment.
Which makes me think about the word need. I see a lot that is needed in the city and world and it doesn’t seem to be getting talked about. How I thought we needed service people and just appreciated artistic sections of town, now I wonder if they are all just doing these artistic jobs to survive. If we have created a culture that needs stuff because someone needs jobs at the Container Store (Google George Carlin) or if it really did happen in reverse. If we create jobs because we have created greed that forces housing and food to be so expensive the blue collar service work can’t survive. It makes me question whether 80% of people are doing needed jobs, or if we have created a society so consumed with wealth and more money that some need to be unemployed for someone else to have a job at the unemployment office.
I don’t have a conclusion. Do you?