Monday, November 16, 2009

I'm from Oregon

I'm from a state where the seasons could be described as colors: grey, green, bright yellow. The days of rain are plentiful but when the sun comes out, it's a gorgeous sight. I'm from a land where it rains more than half the year but no one bothers with umbrellas. I'm from a state where things are looking up when unemployment goes from 12% down to 11.5%. Welcome to Oregon.

So what does a state with out enough jobs and no sunshine? My friends bike everywhere. Or you take the bus, which is filled all sorts of normal people. You deal with soggy feet by drinking micro brew (well, or PBR).
You get part time work and devote the rest of the time to their favorite creative outlet. You cook, You can your own food, you learn to knit. You fix your own house, bike, clothes. You buy used or find it for free. You make what you need; you take care of what you have. You get by with out the glitz. You kind of learn to hibernate and slow down to a different pace of tea and beer and indoor projects, or rain gear and hot showers and coffee.

I've been gone for more than four years, now. On the road, on the run, on the move from one place, job, school, group of friends to the next. During those four years, I became more and more divorced from the feeling of being Oregonian and had more and more trouble answering that question of, "Where are you from?" After all, I've been gone for a long time and everything has changed since I left. Can you still be from some place, even if it just vaguely resembles how it once felt like home? Before this October and November, each trip back to the Northwest was straight from a rushed Tokyo pace of life down to Oregon speed and I always found the adjustment jarring. Don't people have more places to be? Why does no one put some effort into dressing up and/or going out? With all of Tokyo's lights and bustle and independence, coming back, car-less, bike-less, restless, never reconciled very well.

So, previously, I found myself still in love with my old friends but in love with the cities and space of the Northwest. This time has been different though. After living out of my 35L backpack and chasing semi-wild animals around in Bolivia, I not only have renewed respect, admiration, and love for my hard-core, we will bike through the cold rain, no bullshit, we can innovate around that, friends, but also, I'm moving at a different pace. I'm walking around, just to see somewhere, not to go somewhere. I'm alright being a few days behind schedule because hey, I can and I'm not ready to leave yet.

I don't know what my future will bring or if it will lead me back to the Northwest. The pull to return and settle is stronger than ever, but so is the smell of crazy adventures. But regardless of that, I'm convincingly and happily proud to say, "I'm from Oregon."