Oregon Trail, Part 2: The First Six Weeks
The first morning we were here, Shea went outside to get something from the trailer. Since we arrived before the moving truck, and all he had were flip-flops, that’s what he wore.
Icy sidewalk + flip flops = We’re not in California anymore.
That was only the first lesson Oregon taught us. Since then we’ve learned…
…that there’s something to the old wives tale that if you don’t wear a coat, you’ll catch cold.
…to keep the dogs’ water bowls in the house, or they’ll drink out of the toilets—either because they’re too lazy to go out in the cold or the water has frozen over.
…while living on the hill overlooking town will be cool 90% of the time, the other 10% we’ll be in danger of sliding down the hill on the way to school.
Among other things.
But we’ve also been here long enough for the kids to make new friends in the neighborhood, new friends at school and be invited to four birthday parties.
(However, not long enough for this mama to find a gym. Ahem.)
It’s hard for me to explain the way people are friendly here, because California is an awfully friendly place. But when folks in So Cal are friendly, it’s more like an “I’m going to be friendly next to you” vibe. It has solid personal space.
And up here, the friendly reaches out and grabs you, includes you. Kate’s new teacher wrapped her in a great big old bear hug on the first day they went to school. The director of ministries at our new church wrapped me in a great big old bear hug the first time she met me in person. It’s like that.
I am not a hugger. I have big personal space. BIG. Even after four years in New York, I never got used to how people hugged and kissed each other hello. Hugging is a joke between me and Amy because Amy hugs everyone and it took me months to hug her back without feeling awkward.
But I once I realized that hugging could happen in Oregon, I decided we have to be open to our new life.
So I am open to hugging.
In California, it’s common for folks to head bob a stranger or offer a “Hey, what’s up?”. In New York, I had to adjust to the expectation that less words are better and no words are best. That stuff doesn’t fly here. When people ask how you are, they’re prepared to listen to the answer. There may be follow-up questions. It’s a small town and there’s nowhere that anyone has to be fast. This is part of the slowing down.
Gabriel has the run of the neighborhood with some other boys, including right on up the hill into the trees if he so desires. There’s lots of open land and not a lot of fences. I was scared for poison oak, and then someone told me “Honey, it’s not if he gets poison oak, but when” and I shook it off.
We’ve eaten at all the restaurants we came to love on our trips up here to see my husband’s folks, and discovered some new ones. We’ve been to museums, a working water-powered mill from 1872 and I even went on a Mom’s night out with the first grade moms. You never know what you’re getting into with a group of first grade moms, but I shouldn’t have worried. These are Catholic school moms, after all. Half went home at ten and the other half went upstairs to dance.
It’s quiet now that the holidays have ended. We’re settling into the dark peace of winter. But then, oh my goodness. There will be so many festivals and fairs and markets that it almost stresses me out when I look at the community calendar.
We can’t wait to explore our new home state. The trailer will come out of hiding in the Spring and off we’ll go to the coast and over the Cascades and north to Eugene. Everything is new: new stores, new parks, new museums, new towns. And all of it is beautiful.
My kids are content here, even though they do miss their friends. My husband, who really thrives when he’s helping people, is content in his new job. And I am content. My mama’s heart is quiet and thankful that this prayer was answered.
Some pictures of our new life: