I spent the past week back home celebrating my mom's birthday and packing up the belongings I've kept in storage for the last 6 months. I'm convinced that Oregon is the most beautiful place in the world in the summers and people go ham when the sun is out, so there's an energy in the air that you can feel. Here's a few of my favorite things from my trip home.
1. gas station attendants. I grew up in Oregon, so it shouldn't have been as startling as it was when I forgot that I was in one of the two U.S. states where it's illegal to pump your own gas. There's something very welcoming about the gesture, especially because Oregonians are just so friendly, sort of like how sandwiches made by someone else just taste better.
2. couch surfing. I took a couch surfing tour of Portland so that I'd get quality time with everyone throughout the week. Somehow when I wasn't paying attention, everyone grew up and got guest rooms, so it was like staying at a bed and breakfast every night, but with friends. Muchas gracias to Martha, Jim, Ryan, Kevin, Carrie, Molly, Brady, Elise, Justin, Kaitlin, Max, Aulbrey, Sam, Bri, Katie, and Mandee for hosting me this past week!
3. washington park. It's hands-down my favorite park in Portland. It's beautiful and close to my old apartment, so it holds a lot of good memories, like biking to work in the summer, running the hills when I was training for my Ironman, packing a blanket and a bottle of wine for the summer concert series, and wandering through the rose garden when I needed to clear my head. I had an extra hour while I waited for Bri to get off work, so I took a walk through the park for nostalgia's sake.
4. stumprunners. Have you ever run a marathon and felt your quads seize up so you could barely walk afterwards? That happened after running 4 miles, which tells you how little I've been running for the last 6 months. Fortunately it's more of a social run club than a competitive one, otherwise I would have died, and it was fun seeing familiar faces.
5. OG pilates and yoga. I've taken yoga and Pilates at almost 200 studios since I got ClassPass and last week I got to take classes with the two teachers who got me hooked when I had my corporate membership through Nike. No two classes have really been the same, so it's hard to compare apples to apples, but Dena's yoga and Tammy's Pilates classes are still my favorites.
6. acupuncture. I usually refer to my acupuncturist, Val, as a life coach/magical healer, but she's mostly an awesome lady who helped me figure out what I want to do with my life and made me a little healthier along the way. She was a big influence when I used to see her regularly by sharing stories from her life about leaving her big corporate job to find her higher calling. I also think that taking an hour to just chill out after feeling frazzled from work helped me to think more clearly, sort of like a smaller scale of what the past 6 months have been like. I loved catching up with her last week while she stuck needles in my back.
7. pendleton woolen mills store. I love the Pendleton brand and I love Pinterest, and I recently discovered there's a store where you can buy discounted scrap fabric to have a crafting hay-day with. I happened to be home when my brother was about to toss out his old leather couch, so I threw it in the U-haul and plan to reupholster the cushions with leftover blanket fabric while I'm getting settled in Southern California.
8. anthropologie. I have a few consistent happy places, and walking through Anthropologie with a cup of coffee on a Sunday is one of them. There's something about that place that makes me want to buy an apron and bake something, and it's a feeling you can find in any city that has an Anthropologie. The Portland store was recently redone so there's two stories now, so Bri and I filled up on iced coffees to wander around on a sunny Sunday afternoon.
9. dobby. I've met a lot of friends' dogs along the way, but one of the best parts about being home was seeing my brother's dog, Dobby. He's the worst dog ever, and Ryan always has a new story about something naughty he did, like eating an entire box of tag-a-longs, but I think that's what makes me love him so much. Cheers to the rule-breakers.
There's a lot of things I wanted to do while I was home that I didn't get to, like berry picking on Sauvie Island, rafting the Clackamas River, hiking the gorge, driving out to the Oregon Coast, and lots more. To be honest, I don't know exactly why Portland doesn't work for me, except that cloudy weather makes me cranky and I'm the best version of myself when I'm running around in the sunshine. On paper, it has everything that I feel like I should want, like having so many of my friends and family in one place, and when it's sunny, I can almost talk myself into staying. But the last few years have been me trying to convince myself that it works while complaining to everyone I know about how much I miss California, so I'm sure it's a relief for them too. ;)
Packing up my U-haul without knowing exactly what I was heading toward was a funny feeling, but it was also a familiar feeling that I had had a few times throughout my road trip, and every time it passed, something amazing/beautiful/fun would come up. I'm trusting my gut on it and excited to see what unfolds.