Portland 400

Portland 400 miles.

I’m on the road, and over halfway there. The wide, straight freeway has changed into a crooked mountain pass, as sunny inland pastures have given way to snow-dusted pine woods. Maybe it’s the change in terrain that does it, or maybe just the thought of the distance I’ve traveled, but the music blaring on my radio can no longer drown out the confused mixture of emotions that I have been struggling to contain– I am moving far away from all I know.

Coming around a bend, black rows of pine studded hills suddenly split open ahead of me. The early morning sun illuminates the pure snow-clad face of a great mountain. Mount Shasta? Like the crater-pocked face of the moon, it seems to glow of its own light. Like the moon, it is at once comforting and cold.

I’ve moved other times, of course, even traveled to other countries, but this time is somehow different. Someone told me yesterday it’s because in the past, there was always the assumption of return, even if there was no set date– this time is forever. Beyond anxiety and uncertainty, the light of understanding shines as brilliantly as the morning sunlight on the mountain’s face. Sometimes, the truth is a source of comfort. Sometimes, it is a curse.

Weed 5 miles.

What kind of a deranged soul would name their town “Weed”? Perhaps an old, bow-backed hunter, clinging to his cabin hermitage, as he cleans his father’s rifle by candlelight. Damned be any man who attempts to uproot him from his ancestral home. We cling to what we know.

I grew up in a house of books. My parents clung to them like the hermit to his father’s rifle. Overstuffed shelves lined the walls, but there were not enough walls. Books lay in stacks on the floor, on nightstands, on the kitchen table, on the kitchen counters. Any available surface was covered in books. Sometimes there was more room in the house for books than for us trying to live there. Yet “home” is neither a house, nor a city, nor a book. Home is that feeling of comfort and security that comes from knowing you are cared for. In that sense, it was still home.

It’s hard leaving everything you know, but not as hard as clinging to an outlived past. If I were to be a weed, I would choose to be the dandelion. I would not wear down the path beneath my feet, but I would travel on the wind, each new breeze guiding me towards a new life.

Portland 300 miles.

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