There’s a place that you should go, if you ever find yourself fixating on how much inner thigh you can squash into a palm and squeeze, when you lay on your side to go to sleep at night. It’s forgiving — this place. It’s a dream-place.
It’s where I go when I pull all of my pillows over onto the big side of the bed, single file, and snuggle back against them, spoon-style. It’s where I go when I can’t remember what it’s like, to have someone else’s eyelashes blink against my hand.
It’s in Oregon, this place. Where there is evidently no room for anything but beauty.
It’s called Crater Lake. I’m assuming you’ve heard of it, although I never had. I didn’t know that it was one of our national parks. I didn’t know that I’d see Diamond Lake on the drive up, and that would be pretty, but Crater Lake would be just a few miles more, and that would be something else entirely.
Wikipedia had told me a few things worth retaining (deepest lake in the United States; seventh or ninth deepest in the world; the bluest of blue, blue, blue), but I wasn’t at all prepared for what was suddenly sitting silently, just a stone’s throw away. I think my jaw actually dropped, when I first saw it.
It’s a shame — the pictures don’t show the sheer magnitude of it. Looking out at Crater Lake made me feel a little woozy, just like looking down over the ledge at the Grand Canyon did. If there was ever a time for #nofilter, this was it. I could have stood there for hours, just trying to drink it all in.
And Oregon is not a one-trick pony. I can’t tell you how many times I heard my mental shutter go click, during this trip.
I know what you’re thinking: it’s the height of the summer season. This is Oregon, all dolled up.
I’m completely aware. For ten months of the year, Oregon is perfect for two things: sitting in coffee shops, and watching it rain. (This bodes well — I’m good at both of those things.)
I know that the sun won’t hold, but I can’t help but let myself be hypnotized anyway. It’s so pretty.
I’m in the honeymoon phase — you guessed it. And I’m surely biased, now that Oregon is going to be my new home state. But I’m just dying to tell you about all the best parts, because I’m so excited. And because I want you to come. Come see all these trees — the ones too tall to fit in a frame.
I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m campaigning hard. I’d love a friend out here. Maybe more than a friend, too.
And, okay, there’s something else: I’m hoping that you’re not secretly thinking that I’m about to make an enormous mistake. That you’re not reading my diary and thinking, wow, this girl’s gone off the deep end. Because it’s true: I am harboring some hope that I’ll find I’m infinitely better at floundering, over on the west coast. And maybe that is a little farfetched.
And I don’t have any real reason to come, except that I’m sure. Sure in a way that I have never been before — about anything or anyone. I have next to nothing, right now, but one day I will have something, and I want it to be out here.
Out here, in a place that isn’t as cutthroat as NYC, or as flashy as Seattle, or as exclusive as San Francisco. I want to do it here, in Portland — where it isn’t as busy as Boston, or as humid as DC, or as cold as Chicago. I want to do it here, where there is no comparison.
You can see I’ve already packed my rose-colored glasses. But honestly, it’s probably going to be horrendously hard. I’ve been bracing myself for a bad beginning. For nights so lonely I’ll long for the madness I left behind, in Manhattan. For days so dreary and dark I’ll forget all about how stunning Oregon’s summer is.
(It really is spectacular. Did I mention that? The city, the country, and the coast. My goodness, the coast.)
But anyway — I’m sure that I’ll forget what it’s like, to sit on a bench by a beach, and feel a strong sun spread itself out over my shoulders. Warm. I’m sure it’ll be awhile, before I allow a whisper-soft breeze to skim its hands over my bare skin. To wrap its arms all the way around me. Safe.
And I’m sure I’ll have trouble picturing bald eagles soaring and pelicans swooping, and the thousands of sparkles shimmering across the tops of the waves. And the seagulls, popping in and out of the fizzy-soda froth at shore’s edge.
In winter, I know I won’t be able to take a slow lungful of sweet salty air, whenever I please. And I have a feeling it won’t be so often that I idly think: everyone should have a day like this.
And even when summer knocks hello again, at this time next year, I’m sure I’ll wish to see a sandy beach standing there sometimes, not a rocky one. (I’ll have to remember to drive north. Along Route 101, which looks like my new Route 1.)
And I’m sure I’ll get fed up with the scenic route sometimes, and wish for nothing more than a do-not-stop straight to Portland, ME. On those days, I’ll wish for lobster, not salmon. I’ll look for lighthouses — I’ll miss all the lighthouses.
But there’s enough of home out here, really. When the morning mist burns off, and I take a good look around. Men with long-leathery skin run these seafood shacks, too. Men my dad’s age, who pretend to be crabby but are nothing but big softies, underneath.
And these seaside towns are just as sleepy as the ones I remember growing up. They’re not so different — they get an adrenaline rush in June, and they tucker out just after Labor Day. They have the same sort of landscape. There’s a working marina, a tourist trap or two, a squeaky boardwalk, a diner with passable food (also: really rich gossip), and a market. (With most of the essentials.)
I can’t tell you how comforting it is, to see not only a little bit of Maine out here, but Cape Cod too. Oregon is all the places I love, all rolled into one.
There are even shades of upstate New York (where I went to college) nestled into these hills. There’s still the occasional cornfield and cow and winery and wonderful old barn, if you road-trip and aren’t too focused on getting anywhere fast.
I’m going to be just fine, I think. I’m going to work it out. I’m going to write. And I’m going to let somebody in, and I’m not going to be so hard on myself, and I’m going to do my very best to remember this:
“Wishes shouldn’t be wasted on weight and appearance — they should be saved for once you’ve put in the hard work on something, and you need a little extra hope.” –That Kind of Woman