Three years ago today, I loaded up my Honda Civic with everything it could hold, boxed up the rest of my things and left Louisiana for a job and a new life in Oregon. Eventually, my other possessions joined me.
Three years later, I haven't come close to seeing all of the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Still, it's amazing to me that on a clear day, I can easily see Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens, and if I'm in the right place, Mount Rainier in the distance.
I've met two people up here who have used the word "y'all" in conversation. One of them moved to the Carolinas last year. The other may have simply been passing through. I don't know. They both made me smile.
Oregon law forced me to remember what it was like to sit in your car while someone else pumped the gas. It's illegal to pump your own, so you have to let an attendant do it. That was an adjustment.
I've seen interesting people. Keep Portland Weird is more than a bumper sticker. I've stopped at the occasional food cart for lunch. I knew about, then stumbled upon (by accident) a place where PB&J is king.
It didn't take three years to discover rain up here is not like rain down there. It's not rain that leaves bruises. A thunderstorm — you know the kind I'm talking about, Lake Charles — is a rare event. Rain that seems to last for months? Now, that's different. But it's not what I consider rain. No, it's what my friend George likes to call a mizzle — a cross between a mist and a drizzle. If you pull out an umbrella, you're tipping your hand that you're not from here.
The Blazers, Mariners and Seahawks are, largely, the teams of choice. For NFL game days, the Buffalo Wild Wings locations have a Sunday breakfast menu (kickoff is 10 a.m. for the early game). But there are many transplants up here, so allegiances are all over the map, metaphorically speaking.
If the past month had been different for me, I would have been on my way down South today, headed to Houston to join friends (and former American Press co-workers) in seeing the Astros play the Rangers, to celebrate a friend's birthday, and then to visit my sister and her family in Lake Charles. But because of something unexpected, I had to put those plans on hold. Maybe another game, another time.
I miss Louisiana, although some of the trappings are nearby. As I type this I'm sipping Community Coffee from a Community Coffee mug. The coffee spent the night in a Community Coffee Fresh-O-Lator. I seasoned dinner last night with Slap Ya Mama. I gave someone a can of Cafe du Monde coffee, and I still have some in my pantry. My Louisiana license plate stands on the shelf right behind the Louisiana products. I've eaten gumbo and crawfish at restaurants in Portland, and there's a place on my to-do list that boasts Southern Fried Chicken.
The changes to the blog made older posts go away, so I can't link you to the photos I took on my drive from Louisiana to Oregon. Stops along the way included Shreveport, Tyler, Albuquerque, Needles (Calif.), Anaheim Hills, the San Francisco Bay area, and Medford (Ore.). I also stopped at the designated intersection memorializing the line "Well, I'm standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona" in the Eagles song. Saw the amazing changes of scenery once I got about an hour west of Amarillo, Texas. As a friend said, "Everything changes."
Between then and now, I traveled a bit. In less than 24 hours, I saw the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Late one afternoon, I took some pictures of the Atlantic in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Early the next afternoon, I held a staff meeting at the edge of the Pacific Ocean in Lincoln City, Ore.
Now I find myself in transition again. I left the job I left Louisiana for after receiving an offer I couldn't refuse. Less than a year later, that job — one that held so much promise — went away, without warning. So I sit here sipping coffee and considering what might come next.
There don't appear to be opportunities in Louisiana with my name on them, so I'm looking in this area, and elsewhere. I've come to love the mountains and the proximity to the ocean, and even the non-weird people in Oregon and Washington are interesting to be around.
I do think about Louisiana a lot. A few days ago I looked at some of the last photos I took before heading to Oregon. One of them is one of my favorite views at one of my favorite places, on the grounds of St. Joseph Abbey and Seminary College near Covington.
I've been typing this for so long, the coffee's cold. I have to heat it up. Hang on.
OK, I'm back.
Thanks for hanging in there with me. This is a longer post than usual. Because the date jumped out at me when I saw it on the calendar, I was filled with memories of leaving three years ago today for the Pacific Northwest.
And now, if y'all will excuse me, I have to get back to figuring out what comes next.
Talk to you soon.