The New Year is upon us. Fresh starts abound. The crisp blue skies and sunshine here in Portland feel full of possibility, even though the weather is dipping into freezing temperatures and frigid wind chases even the most hearty Oregonians back indoors.
I realized today that my last blog was posted exactly one month ago on December 3rd. After landing in the US on December 6th, I turned off my computer and concentrated on the infamous ‘re-entry.’ Of course I expected some disorientation after my time away, but I felt somewhat prepared in the expecting; in the knowing.
Even with this head start of expecting, however, I feel a bit like a seafarer who hasn’t managed to get her land legs back. After a whirlwind month of holidays in Denver and Portland, I am exhausted. A close friend lent me her car over Christmas while she was traveling, and I used the opportunity to spend almost every afternoon and evening re-connecting with friends here in Portland. It was a rich and full two weeks, but I haven’t had that many social engagements the entire time I have been away. I quickly realized that I am incapable of maintaining such a hectic pace. Before I left to travel, I had almost every free moment booked; dinners, happy hours, brunches, you name it. After being removed from this crazy rhythm for fifteen months, I am hyper-aware that even if I could physically maintain it, I have no emotional desire to do so.
Traveling alone forces you to become very comfortable with your own company and as a result, me, myself and I get along quite well now. We need time to think, to walk and to be quiet during the day. I am not as able to rush through things; to squeeze things in. I cannot eat and drive and use Siri to navigate to a destination. I get overwhelmed by the vast amount of options in Fred Meyer and miss my exit after getting distracted by the sheer beauty of light falling on the city in the early evening. I arrive late and I forget things I meant to bring. This is just how it is right now. The knowing that I would not be who I was has not kept me from being surprised in the ways that I am different. The old me would have deemed the new me less capable, less productive. The new me is pretty sure the old me lived with a level of anxiety and stress and self-imposed perfection that could swallow a person whole.
I am now living in southwest Portland with lovely and generous friends who have provided a spacious furnished bedroom for me to stay in while I ponder what is next in my life. They have been very vocal in stating that transitions can be longer than we anticipate and that I can have all the time I need. To be offered this space is a gift. These next weeks will be interesting. I know I need to create some routine to my day, to my work. I am moving toward that, yes…but perhaps slower than I thought.
SW Portland has a myriad of walking routes criss-crossing its neighborhoods. I have never lived in this part of town and was taken aback by the miles of paths that are outside my front door. I have walked a particular four mile loop a few times in the past week. The sketch above is a part of my walk that reminds me of the forests on the Camino in the section from Santiago to Finisterre. This particular bend, however, is a ten minute stretch between the quiet neighborhood streets above and where I descend the stairs under an overpass before dropping down onto Corbett avenue in John’s landing. That afternoon the light turned the forest mystical. Views of the city materialized and vanished while I navigated twists and turns under a canopy of winter green. Portland looks different from this side of town. Something I have known for 30 years seems new. Fresh.
I look different, too. I am giving myself permission to be different; in anticipated and unforseen ways. In the journey of this past 15 months I have become someone new. In the learning and the growing, I have allowed myself to become more complex, and yet in some ways, unformed. I feel like I am the lines in this sketch. Raw. Spontaneous. Unfinished.
There is movement, however. I might be moving more slowly than I had anticipated but each day I step forward. My Camino continues. 2017 beckons…