Submitted by la miller on 18 October, 2007 - 02:24

[w:October 11] came and went. I couldn't shake the feeling that there was something significant about that date. A birth date of an old friend? No, something else. ... I generally remember dates. If I know you, I probably know your birthday. I remember anniversaries. I remember the year albums were released. I didn't have much time to wonder why 10/11 stuck in my brain, so I let it go. Then today, I remembered.

October 11 was the day I moved away from Portland in 1994. It also was the day twelve years later in Madison, Wisconsin, that I inadvertently laid the ground work for my return to Portland. The next day I kissed a new boy, which arguably also inadvertently contributed to my Westward migration.

I wasn't doing much with my life at that point -- working part-time at a video store, taking a painting class, spinning records. I think I had a feeling that my slacker days were coming to a close. Looking back, for those last couple months, I did make the most of it.

In January this year, my social network suffered an implosion: many people's lives were dramatically changed. I had just started a 4-month-long full-time temp job and was occupied by work. The fun of late fall and early winter was over. There were several months of shifting sand in my circle of friends: moves, breakups, disappointments, jobs lost. By the time my work was over, I was ready to get out of town. I never really returned. I just came back to move my stuff away.

I'm discovering tonight as I write that I don't like remembering what I was doing last fall. I feel sad, especially knowing all the difficulty that came after. I think I was naive a year ago. And I was lazy. But I had a community that I loved. And now I am far away from it. Sometime circumstances break your heart. There's not much to do about it except move on.

Starting over isn't so easy. If only because in the down moments, memories from the past sneak in and remind you what you've given up. I don't want to go back. I'm committed to my relocation. But that doesn't make missing friends any easier. And I hope I'm out here for the right reasons. I hope I wasn't just running away from the things that hurt and my own confusion. I suppose something had to change in my life. Things had gotten too easy.

One of my mantras over the last few months is that this isn't supposed to be easy. If it was easy, I wouldn't learn anything. Unlike a year ago, I now have an idea of what I'm doing with myself over the next year or two and what I hope to accomplish. I'm not saying specifically what, but it is something, however stable, mundane and unglamorous. And running contrary to my simple stationary ambition, is the desire to get rid of my possessions and roam. I don't know that to do with that. Perhaps it's what my forties will be about.


I remember one of the ways that I bonded with the boy from last fall. I believe it was over an afternoon fire on a bike ride out to Picnic Point that we talked about not feeling a sense of purpose in life. I think we agreed that our dating was a temporary distraction from that. It's funny to think of now. The good news is that I do feel a purpose growing inside me. It's small, but I think it's a start.

And now I'm back in Portland with a chance to remember things that were important to me in my early twenties. When I was unpacking last month, I randomly grabbed a journal out of the journal box. I keep it out on the bookshelf. I've only read a few months from it. There are sweet and painful memories there, too.

Up at Breitenbush I had this vision of myself in a little cabin in the mountains, where I would play music and write and do dishes and listen to the water and the trees. It would be small and unfinished--funky. It would have sunlight and plants. I didn't think about being lonely. It didn't cross my mind. -- March 22, 1992