five years.

As I process leaving this city and state, I am overwhelmed with a lot of things.

I think about my life here. 

It has been five years this February.

I packed up my car the day Obama was sworn in as President of the United States, said goodbye to my mom and drove into the Great Pacific Northwest.

I remember it all so well. Breaking down as I hit the Columbia River Gorge, and having to get it all out. How I was scared, and how I was so far away from home, and would be getting married so soon. It had all set in. All big moves are met with this realization eventually. The excitement of change is powerful. It distracts from the enormity of your decision. Living in another place takes it out of ya.

I settled in quickly. My home was already here, you see?

And I grew so fast. I changed and shifted.

I was a barista. A manager. A cook. A sous chef.

Friend. Husband. In-law. Son. Brother. Uncle.

All of these things contained inside this heart of mine.

A life, a full one, lived here.

Portland-Waterfront

I wish so badly more of my family could have seen me live here. I wish they could’ve met my friends and my family. I wish they could have seen me cook and see where it was I made a home for four of those years.

This is where I became strong!

(I will tell them…)

I will show them where the tomatoes grew high.

And where I learned how to cook.

I would show them wine country. And the coast. And the Great Mountain.

I would sit with them in the rose gardens and share my heart. How I crumbled. And how I stood back up.

How it was all these people who pulled me up out of the trenches, dusted me off and told me,

we love you, Josh.

I lived a life here, so many people I know will never know. Maybe through Facebook, or at this here blog. But what I wanted them to see are the people I will miss so terribly. And the farm dinners in the Summer. The leaves in the Fall. The rain, and apparently, the snow.

But my friends and family far away showed me the same, wonderful, strong love that it takes to pull one out of these things. And I am going back to them.

I am returning the same way I came, in my little red car. Fresh.

Head held high.

(with the occasional, and necessary breakdown.)

And I will think of my friends who are going to have their baby soon.
The person who will take my place behind the stove at Woodlawn.
My roommate who will be using my desk for school work.

I lived a life here.

I was married here.
I learned how to live life deeply with another, and to also watch it unravel a bit, near its end.
This will take me some time, I think to myself. Hmff.

But it was full and big and necessary.

Today, I will give in to that sadness.
Knowing good and well people and places never leave you.
Never, ever, ever.

And I hope I left something good here. Something strong.
I hope I was good to its people.
I did recycle and compost a lot.

I give thanks, not only to the people who made this place so wonderful for me,
but also to the cultures here before any of us had a favorite IPA or doughnut.
They kept this land beautiful and thriving. I thank them for helping me to understand such a place.

This is all sacred ground I walk upon.

I lived a life here.

Even if you didn’t see or hear me,

I was here.

Plow to the Earth,

making a home,

and growing in abundance.

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