20 March 2014
every year around this time, I sit at the little wooden desk by the window in the front room and I watch. I wait for the little explosions, for the tiny green buds on the two trees in the front yard to break open and scream pink. every year, I watch and I wait. and every year, when it finally happens, it reminds me. of that time we said yes, that time we closed our eyes and leaped into that place they call the unknown. or, in our case, the great pacific northwest. pink blooms remind me that we were brave once. they ceremoniously mark another year here for us in the city of portland, oregon.
I think about the first time we drove down our street. a knotty-headed two year-old ezra, a wide-eyed six year-old ava, a bewildered seventeen year-old cat and a thoroughly exhausted 36 year-old me and 38 year-old ward. we'd just finished driving across the country. seven days, eleven states. georgia into tennessee into kentucky into illinois into missouri into kansas into colorado into wyoming into utah into idaho. and then finally, oregon. oregon with its green green green everything everywhere, its commanding, unforgiving winds and magnificent vistas, its chartreuse moss quietly covering every surface in sight. and then we were driving across a bridge (who remembers which one) into a brand new city and then we were driving down our street for the very first time, beyond exhaustion but also wild with excitement and above all else, wildly hopeful. when we pulled up to our house for the first time, all we could see were the pink blooms and a spectacular mess of pink confetti on the front sidewalk. the trees have thrown us a little party, I thought. it's got to be a sign.
seven years later, here we are, exploding pink trees and all. when things started to bloom last week, all the old feelings came back again, just like they always do. I walked outside, camera in hand, just like I always do, tried (in vain) to shoot the exploding trees in a way that would tell the story, just like I always do. every year, I try. I always try. I pointed my SX-70 at those little pink guys and hoped for the best. last shot of the pack, last few days of the blooms. and the last time I will sit at the little wooden desk at the window in the front room of this house and wait, the last time I will watch the two trees in this front yard turn bubblegum pink, the last time I will point my camera up towards those bloom-covered branches. because in a few short months, we'll be making our way back home. we'll be moving back to atlanta, georgia.
there's a longer story, of course, but the short of it is that we miss family. we're tired of living so far from the people we love. we love portland, but we love our people more. that's what it comes down to, I guess. we're choosing the family we love over the city we love. is there any other way? any other choice? for us, there is not. most days, I vacillate between weepy and giddy-- weepy for everything and everyone we're leaving behind, giddy for the mountain of good that waits for us on the other side. I am a tangled, knotty mess of emotions. and I am currently up to my eyeballs in purging and packing, in list making and problem solving. I am swimming in change, paddling fast, struggling to keep my head above water. I can see the other side but just barely. there are still so many miles to go, so many miles. I find myself wishing the time away, begging for something like a giant fast forward button. and then I panic when I realize what that would actually mean. when we've finished with the move and we begin the big road trip home, this part of life will officially be over. portland, as we know it, will be over. a thing we will talk about, past tense. and I cannot imagine it. I want it to be over but I never want it to end. does that make any sense? probably not. but that's the sentence I find myself repeating over and over. I want it to be over but I never want it to end.
in the meantime, petals are falling. little papery bits of pink are beginning to carpet the front sidewalk. soon, the ground will be covered and I'll take my shoes off. I'll walk barefoot through the confetti, just like I always do. I will stand in it one last time. and I will remember that time we said yes, that time we jumped, that time we were brave.