Home, I love you, good bye
Someone once told me that you don’t really know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been. There’s a certain amount of truth to that statement, I think. Everywhere you go, you take with you the parts of your past that you’ve held on to, the parts that have shaped you and that construct the filters through which you process the world. On this Saturday afternoon, as I stood in one of the fields that collectively constitute the 5 acres upon which I grew up on, I realized that as metropolitan, as urban savvy and concrete hungry, as I’ve become, I did grow up on 217,800 square feet of the most beautiful land in the world, 216,800 square feet of it without concrete, and I take the trees, mountains, dirt, creek, and fresh air of it all with me everyday wherever I go.
As I stood in the field, looking at the 3 year-old, 8 foot tall cedar tree growing (deliberately) from the grave of my childhood best friend (Nikko, a half husky, half black lab), it sunk in: this would likely be the last time I would stand there. When I left this house in early 2003 I did not believe I would ever move back to the area. It was too small, lacking in opportunity and intellectual curiosity. It still is, and I still do not believe I will ever move back, but this does not change neither my affection for the area nor the countless experiences that have shaped the person I am today.
When we moved to the house I was 9 years old and in the fifth grade. I went through middle and high school and 2 years of community college, liking little of it, in this house. I had a close group of friends, only two of whom I’m still (infrequently) in contact with. I covered nearly every mile of road and mountain trail in the city and county on my bicycle. I rode in rain and snow and wind and sun. And I did it hundreds and sometimes thousands of times over. I would drive within a few feet of the sea a mere hour before parking my car over 6,000 feet higher. While living in this house I had my first kiss, my first “time”, my first glass of wine. I woke up in this house on 9/11. I beat my father at one-on-one for the first time here. I learned to cook in this kitchen. I learned how to build and fix things in the work shed. From this house I traveled the country and the world, but upon returning home every time I was reminded of one thing: no matter where you go and what you do there, what the Northwest has to offer is uniquely as rewarding as what you’ll receive anywhere else.
When I left this house I was 19; I was off to finish my last two years of university 90 miles south of this house. I continued to return to this house, usually once a month, over the next two years to spend weekends with my parents. Promising to stop at the outlet stores along the way, I brought my college girlfriend with me once in awhile. I would visit friends, ride with old training partners, eat and shop at old haunts, hike with Nikko. This house was my refuge from the big city, from the endless parade of cars and buses and light and noise. At this house you hear nothing but the monotone and muted echo of the highway off the valley sides. You see the sky and every star in it because there is no light pollution; the best night skies are seen from the basketball court next to the barn. I hope I find another place where I am exposed to nature the way in which this house indoctrinated me with it: raw, unassuming, humbling, and at times utterly comforting.
I’m 25 now, and this is the last night I’ll spend in this house. When I was 16 I moved from the house into the adjoining one-room cabin. Tonight, I’m staying in my original room, the one in the house. It looks different now: the walls are a different color and the decorations are no longer mine. I sleep on a futon on the floor; the bed is long gone. The dresser, also different, houses my father’s cycling clothes. But it still feels like my room felt, 9 years ago, when I slept here. I hope I wake up tomorrow feeling, like I felt when I was younger, that the day ahead will have better things to offer than the previous day, even if that day was wonderful. But I think now, maybe a bit more strongly than I did yesterday, that because I have all that encompasses this house, that my best still lies ahead and that this house is an integral part of how I get there.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Home, I love you, good bye