Friday, August 29, 2014

Sidewalks and Highways

Evergreens towered over me protectively, listening to the stories I told to the new people I met during the decade of my life that was spent in Portland, Oregon.  Those new acquaintances became friends, then good friends, then sometimes they also became family.

Always in my dreams will be the cloudy skies of Portland. One last glimpse of the city before flying away was almost too much as I moved from Oregon to California.  I will always love this city.  

I feel like time and space are different than they used to be when I was younger - that when I leave a place, I don't have to wonder how people have grown up or grown old, I can see it happen through pictures scrolling down my screen.

It's amazing the way we can all stay connected now.

Even still though,

it always hurts to leave a place you love behind.  

I will miss the way overcast skies would reflect on the water.  I will miss the freeway and train route than runs between Portland and Seattle.

 I will miss the way the fields looked in summer on the side of Highway 26 on the way to the coast.

Generation X is known as a nomadic generation.  For so many reasons, we are a generation that, for the most part, has moved around a lot in our childhoods, and in our adult-hoods, too.  We are familiar with the sidewalks and highways that have taken us from the places we love.

When I think of moving, I get that rush in my veins - the sad emptiness, the rush of wanderlust about to be fulfilled, the tiredness, the hunger for life, a certain grieving, and the hope of beginning again.  

When I came to Oregon as a 26 year old, I was still more or less an adolescent.  A little more than a decade later, I have left here as an adult.  I feel as if I know a thousand times more of life and the human situation, and God, and forgiveness, and our connection to one another than I knew before.

I feel that I learned and experienced everything I was supposed to while I was here.  Moving to a new place can be a deep spiritual journey - a chance to be in the "in-between" for a while where you are becoming detached from all that you are leaving behind and not yet attached to what lies ahead.

We go from place to place, knowing, even
if unconsciously, that there is some ultimate place for us that has a good part of each of the places we have been.

Sometimes I get a glimpse of that place beyond for a fleeting moment, and I realize that all of this is just a foreshadowing - just a preparation for that place - a long, fluid road toward a final destination.  To find yourself surrounded once again by everything you had to leave behind and everyone you loved that you had to let go of is what we were meant for.  And that may be why we have to let things go - so we can have them permanently - to let go of what is fleeting so we can have what is eternal.  You cannot tell me that I was put on this planet only to suffer and grieve and let go of so much for nothing.  I believe everything that was ever taken from me will be given back - only it will all be a thousand times better.  

I will remember walking on the streets of Portland in late spring when blossoms would fall at my feet.

I will remember the way the red leaves fell and the green grass would stretch out their hands to gently catch them.  

I will remember the way the stones dotted the shore, the cold winds coming down off the fog on the mountains, and searching for peace as I looked out on the water.  Resonating somewhere endlessly in my consciousness is the sand on the Oregon coast where I stood with my toes in the lapping water.

The very fabric of the universe gently pushed me forward to tell me that it was time to leave, and I came to a very Frostonian place. While I wanted to keep walking in the same direction, it was time to take a different one.  We find ourselves at that diverging path, and can't help but sometimes doubt ourselves or wonder what the other path would've been like, because we are human.

Yet, if we look for it, and even sometimes when we don't, we are given these signposts, these places that show us when we are going in the right direction. It's the way sparkling lights come on in the distance when you are driving on a freeway at night so that you know you are not far from the next city.  These lights, this flickering hope, is there so that you know the journey is not just one endless route.  This hope happens when a billion rays of sunlight reflect from a billion pieces of sand and I would see it on the shores of the Oregon Coast.  

In the years that I lived in that beautiful place, and in the years I have been given in this life, I have tried to point my face toward sun while it was shining, and feel everything and not miss anything.  I tried to stand under the clouds without my umbrella and feel the raindrops dot my face, so as not to miss even the way that felt, even when it was cold, because it was real.  I left this place changed as I should be - as if the soft rain that fell on me for ten years was a sort of ongoing baptism. I feel so much less angst, so much less anger, so much more ready to forgive.  I feel that the burden that I carry in my mind and heart is so much lighter - I must have buried it somewhere in the Oregon soil.  

"Whether you turn to the right or the left your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, 'this is the way, walk in it'...The moon will shine like the sun and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days..."  -

     - from Isaiah 30  

All photos above of my years in Oregon
 (c) 2014 writing and photography by Chloe Koffas - all rights reserved