who the heck knows anything, anyway

Sunday, September 25, 2011

disclaimer: I am still hungover from house-sitting. read at your own risk.

This is a two-fold post. First, this is what I did in Portland every morning at 6:30/7am, instead of sleeping:

 In case you are unfamiliar with the creatures in that second panel: they're guinea pigs. Seven of them. And that stuff that looks like hay? It's hay. A lot of it. So much hay was there, hardly a moment passed when I didn't have at least three hay-twigs stuck in my hair/on my pants/in my pockets/all of the above. I smelled vaguely of petting zoo. 'Twas very charming, I'm sure. Needless to say, I don't know how my parents do it.

Second, I'm going to ask you to indulge me while I consider the idea of "home".

Growing up, Portland was my practical home, and Seattle was my Home of the Future.  Portland was comfortable and familiar. Family, friends, school, work, all provided the ground upon which my routines were solidly built. Of course, it was under-appreciated. Meanwhile, each visit to Seattle, from childhood through last year, seemed to prove to me that Seattle was the city I should live in, the home I was destined to have.

I have moved to Seattle and sown the seeds of new routines here--routines in which I sleep in until 10, wax academic 24/7, and work for myself--but aside from my cozy apartment, I'm not sure it quite feels like this city is "home" yet.

Every time I go back to Portland, I get excited. Family! Friends! Then I fall into those old routines--some of which I love (waking up early, hanging out with my brothers, buying veggies at Sauvie's Island with my mom, seeing my old peeps), and some of which I don't (waking up early, stressful family obligations, trying to squeeze in time with all of my friends, and often succumbing to the laziness of staying home instead of going out). By the time I hop a northbound train, I'm aching to get back to Seattle. Or...home. Not necessarily Seattle. I'm not sure how to express the feeling I got when I left Portland yesterday--it was something between relief and sadness, with a kick of feeling rather ...adrift. There are people in each city I love, but very few particular things: the St. John's Bridge (PDX), my grandfather's houseboat (SEA), and that's about it. Since I don't live in Portland anymore, I've been forgotten at my former Regular Bars (the Mock Crest; Leisure) and Regular Coffee Shops (Anna Banana's; Xeno's, my original haunt, closed quite a while back) so returning makes me feel like an outsider--I feel like people assume I'm just another hip Portland kid who discovered this hole-in-the-wall bar that OMG you have to check out (barf). Who wants to feel like a tourist in their own hometown, especially when they've only been gone a few months? I haven't even established myself as a Regular at any places in Seattle, in part because Capitol Hill is hip (i.e. crowded) and expensive. Many people in this neighborhood seem to like that touch of aloofness and anonymity, too, but I'm the kind of patron who likes it when the bar tender calls me "hon".

There's no going back to Portland right now, I don't think. Strangely enough, it feels stagnant. Similarly, as my closest Seattle friends move away, I wonder if Seattle might not be for me, either. But I have spent literally my whole life wishing to move here; there is no other place in the USA with any immediate appeal (which has made applying for grad schools particularly trying). When I compare Seattle to Austin, Providence, Amherst, Boston, I can't help but side with the part of myself that thinks "Yeah, those places might be ok, but I bet staying right where I am is better."

I don't know, I'm just being antsy and cranky. It was a long couple of weeks, and a few particularly harrowing days made me seriously contemplate running far, far away. However, I know I'm a lucky lady, living where I do and having great friends and family close by (both here and in Portland). Some people are just so dang good at knowing what they want, it makes me a little jealous sometimes. I suppose this is one of those grass is always greener things.

Here's a drawing of Watson the Hyperactive, Hyperadorable Corgi to make everything better: