In life, we continually find ourselves in different places. I’m not speaking physically, though that is usually the case as well, but more philosophically. Most of us hope that this is a progression for good, and that as we move on, we found ourselves in ultimately more and more secure positions. This is all general, of course. There are always ups and downs, but when one looks at the overall path of one’s life, this is what they hope for.
I’m having a problem getting back up that hill.
I realize that a statement such as that is very vague, and while I don’t think that I can completely illuminate it, detailing out each and every emotion that accompanies this current state of being, I will add a little clarification. I’m not, in this case, referring to physical security, that state of financial stability that we all wish we had, but only some do, but rather a comfort in my level of life satisfaction, with the choices that I’ve made, or happiness in the environment I find myself in.
Green tea mochi ice cream and dark chocolate covered caramels.
I lived in the northwest for most of my life, in varying locations between Eugene, Oregon to Seattle, Washington, and even a stint in northern California. However, the happiest I ever felt was when I lived in Portland. It was when I owned my first house. It was where I began my college education, even though I was in my 30’s at the time. It was where my son was born. It’s also where I have some of my most vivid memories from the last 2 decades.
Back then, I didn’t have to worry about financial stability as much as I do now. I ate better, got out more, and lived in a state of hope for the future. Alice, my now ex-wife, and I didn’t let our lifestyle be hampered by the fact that we’d had a child, and instead of limiting our excursions, simply found ways to bring him with us. Not only did this allow us to experience adventures together as a family, but made things much more interesting.
Before my son was born, we’d made a few trips to the Oregon coast. In fact, the very first vacation I ever took with Alice had been to a wonderful bed and breakfast located on a hill that overlooked the beach. It was a beautiful, large house, where our room had a fireplace and huge bathtub. It was two days of luxury, with wonderful food and wine, evening bonfires on the beach, and complete relaxation. However, that was just one of the few places we stayed over the years. We once found a little bungalow in Cannon Beach that would become our go-to place for coastal vacations.
The trip to that place I remember most is the first time we took my son with us. We had a little French bulldog at the time, and between the four of us, we more than filled the small space. The room was semi-divided into two distinct spaces – the sleeping and bathroom area and the kitchen area, each on the opposite side of a wall. This created a space somewhat resembling a horseshoe, with the dining area joining the two. We’d created a strict bedtime schedule for my son, and so in order to get him to sleep while we were in the same room, we had to move his portable crib as close to the inner wall as possible, and sit around the corner at the dining table, being as quiet as we could until he finally settled down for the night. Since we clearly couldn’t go out, as we had done before, we played board games, drinking wine and eating green tea mochi and dark chocolate covered caramels. Why I associate those two items with the entire trip I don’t know, only that they are perhaps tangible focal points, physical objects to represent the feelings I have about that time.
The following day, we all went to the beach. With child and dog in tow, we walked down the sandy, public trail, which opened up onto the ocean. The wind whipped our clothes, and a grey mist shrouded everything past the large rocks jutting up a quarter mile off shore. This was the first time my son had seen the ocean, and bundled up in his warm fleece, he excitedly ran his fumbling, toddler run up and down the beach, leaving a small trail of footprints in the sand. I ran our dog as fast as I could, up and down the beach, my breath visible in the brisk, salty wind. My son laughed hysterically at our antics. We were a family.
All things change, and while I know we visited there on subsequent occasions, none of them stick out in my memory. They say that there’s nothing like the first time, and that was a first time. The first time my son was introduced to the ocean, something I’ve always held with a sense of wonder, and anticipate with excitement every time I have the opportunity to see her again.
It was a different place and time. One worth remembering. One worth sharing.