…and through the woods. And we’re here.
We left Burns, Oregon in a sunny, sparkly frost. Every blade of grass and tiny twig on the bare cottonwood trees was covered in ice. At the edge of town, I realized pumping my own gas is now illegal, but the station guy said “Oh we’re pretty relaxed around here,” if I wanted to. I let him go ahead.
Crossing the high desert there was no human industry for many miles. We came upon a lonely post office in Brothers, Oregon. The postmaster said the cafe was closed, and since we were both feeling chatty, we found out he played baseball with two guys I went to school with in the ninth grade, at least a couple hundred miles from here. We are both in our 50s now, and it seems your past comes home to you at this time of life, or you come home to it.
The last mountain range to cross was in view, and I was getting hungry. We stopped in Sisters, Oregon for some sustenance and it was then I realized we were parked next to the very neighborhood where Janet and I first met. Nine years ago I did my first test drive in her, and I remember how nervous I was. We have now crossed the continental United States four times, and done the length of both coasts. Today I felt almost embarrassed at my partiality–that I still find this part of the country exceptional. It doesn’t seem like where a person is born means all that much in the scheme of things. It isn’t supposed to matter. And yet.
There was a beautiful room waiting for me, with new elegant hangings celebrating strength and hope, things I have shared my innermost struggles with, with my friend. Her husband welcomed me with his quiet kindness that makes his help seem effortless. She made a celebratory steak dinner, and another family friend came, who had helped make room for Janet here, off the street. And I was unable to realize until later that all this was for me. It was so unobtrusive that I didn’t remember my manners and make a toast, or even say thank you. A true fail. I know I will show my gratitude in many ways, but I fell short of my own standards and let myself down, and what feels miraculous is that I am sure that I am forgiven.
Help me remember that there are times when this happens, to everyone.
I’m leaving you now with a look at the tall timber of the west side of the Cascade Mountains, where I grew up. I expect to settle very soon into the infamous weeks of rain that drapes it in moss and ferns. But do you know? Every single day of this adventure, in all 13 states, it was bright and sunny.