Well hello again friends, it’s been a while.
Thanks for coming back by. As I am sure you can imagine things have been pretty hectic here on the edge of the continent. There have been so many changes in just a few short months that it is difficult to give our whole transformation the reflection it deserves. Now that the furniture is in place and we have Oregon license plates on the car, I can slow down a little and take some time to consider risk and maybe more importantly the aftermath of risk.
Cody and I quit our jobs, sold our house and left Missoula on June 27th. We traveled down the Washington and Oregon coasts looking for a new home. As much as I wanted to think of us pioneers trekking west in search of a new life, the reality was far less cinematic. Just getting out of our rut was a huge risk, one that continues every day.
We drove and drove and drove and finally found a place to serve are our safe harbor for the time being. We rented a house in Oregon, hired a truck and uprooted our cats and everything we knew. There is some risk there I think. And now here we are, looking for work and watching the rising and falling tides with nearly equal parts wonder and hope and terror.
Right now, I am watching through the mist as the waves of the Pacific break roughly on the shores of the beach at the edge of our subdivision. That may be the bougiest thing I have ever said . . . “the beach at the edge of our subdivision.” This sentence is, I think, at the crux of my current turmoil. I need to know that this insane turn of events was earned. Was their sufficient risk to warrant the result? And also, what comes next?
I feel like I laid everything I had on the table, assessed the heap and then determined that it did not ultimately amount to the life I wanted. I threw my hands up and caution to the wind, tamped down good and hard on the growing fear that I might be making a terrible mistake, and headed out into the wide, wide world. That seems like a risk. Cody and I put our trust in strangers to help us find a home, that is a risk. We are already putting ourselves out there looking for work, that’s another risk.
I see the risk in our actions all along the way, every step of where we are now has been risky. This is not news. What is news to me, is how I would really feel about all of this. I am shocked to be confronted with a risk I did not know I was taking until after I took it. The risk of not being enough.
I was very lucky to work for a long time, in theater and then at the law school in positions where my work afforded me a measure of status that I don’t think I ever understood or fully appreciated. I spent twenty years being the person who either knew things or could find out. I was the go to, the get it done girl. I never really thought about it much. This was just what I did. It’s what I thought everyone did. It never occurred to me that this status, the feeling of knowing or being important to a plan, project or function, might also be important to me.
I am just now starting to come to terms with the fact that this wild act of abandon, this much-needed dramatic change, this specific personal risk, runs so much deeper than a change of scenery. Don’t get me wrong the scenery is amazing. Seriously, I recently saw a baby octopus in a tidepool! You know I wonder if that octopus feels differently about himself in and then out of the tidepool. He certainly has different strengths and weaknesses in the tidepool and then in the open ocean.
I wonder if his relationships to the other sea life are different inside and outside of the pool. The nature of the pool changes with each high a low tide and I wonder how easily he adapts to his new surroundings. Does he ever worry that he won’t be able to find his way back? In the tidepool he looked huge but in the open ocean did he even register or make any kind of mark? What does he risk when he leaves the tidepool, what does he risk is he stays?
At some point, this all stopped being about the octopus. All of the inking jokes aside, I have more in common with that octopus than I imagined. I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt and presuppose that octopi in general are not burdened by existential crisis or worried in any way about self-worth. So, in that way, we are obviously very different. I am left wondering though, had I really understood that in the mad dash to make a positive change, if I had understood that I was risking such a dramatic shift in how valuable I feel or do not feel, if I would have been quite so eager to leave my tidepool for the open ocean.
I do love where I am at now. The high tides are very high and I am starting to understand that for now the low tides, while lower than I expected, are still far above the waterline set by my previous, ocean-free life. This journey of discovery has, up to this point, been tied to location and vocation. I certainly learned a lot about myself through the journey but now the real work is beginning.
This is the open ocean. I don’t have to be the fastest swimmer here. I have no need to be more than I am. It is going to take me some time I think though to really understand how to be free here. The town we live in, Waldport, OR. calls itself the place where “the forest meats the ocean.” Maybe that applies to me too. Two (or maybe more) dramatically different entities, occasionally in opposition, finding harmony at the edge of the continent.
I have a lot of work to do. There is so much about myself that I am slowly coming to terms with. It certainly makes for an exciting adventure. I am especially grateful to have such a remarkable partner with whom to explore the next thing, and the thing after that, and the thing after that. I am also amazed every day with both the grand majesty and beautiful simplicity of this place. And I am truly humbled by the continued support of my incredible friends. Thanks for being here. I promise to write again soon, or better yet, come see us at the beach.