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the first week (or year?).

Statue of a horse in Sisters, Oregon.

You know when you're doing something new - a new job, a new relationship, a new anything - and every day feels like a whole year because it's just so full it's practically bursting with it?

Sisters feels like a lifetime ago, but I'll dig through the rubble of my mind to scrape together some memories from the place for y'all. Because I love you so very much, yes I do, yes I do.

Mural in Sisters, an artsy little town in the high desert of Oregon.

After I left that coffee shop in Sisters last Sunday to stroll around the two-block town, I wasn't expecting to be faced with anything particularly mind-blowing. But upon completing the first block stretch, a bicyclist pedaled quickly through the street ahead of me. His wheels hit a particularly large crack, and a small briefcase fell from his side and broke open. An assortment of tiny, hard objects fell to the ground a few yards in front of me and scattered. With a few staccato words in the much-beloved Language of Sailors, the man turned around and walked his bike back to the site of the disaster. I was already on my hands and knees, picking up the objects of assorted sizes and asking him how I could help. They were a variety of rocks and gemstones, and as we picked them up, I couldn't help but look at them all wonderingly, exclaiming in their beauty.

We made quick work of The Disaster together. With a hurried exclamation of "thanks" and a huff of "I'm already late for work" under the breath, he pedaled off. I continued on my way.

Less than a minute later, an open hand with three rocks appeared at my side. "You're the one who helped me back there," a voice said over my shoulder, "take them." I thanked him for his generosity, and off he pedaled, I hoped to a forgiving and kind boss.

This bite-sized moment, full of humanity and grace, bolstered my experience of the rest of the day. I walked through the streets with the three rocks cushioned snugly in my jean pocket, comforted and calmed by the friendliness of The Other, The Stranger, The Unknown. I would likely never see this man again in my life, and yet, the memory stuck to me like moths to a lamp, fluttering around my consciousness as I dove into the last leg of my journey.

The remaining three hours of my trip to Portland saw an incredible change in climate and landscape. I went from high desert in Bend and Sisters, through mountains churning with snow, all the way to the lush greenness that marks the transition to Portland's unique temperate rainforest-type climate. Daffodils and cherry blossoms lined the highways as I approached the city, one more hour, half an hour, 15 minutes...

And just like that, there I was; unpacking, settling, grounding in this place yet unfamiliar to me and yet had consumed my thoughts and intrigued me for months.

Spring blooms in Multnomah.

My entire first week was spent in a flurry of to-do's and exploratory walks around the neighborhood in which I'd plopped. The home is a short 5-minute walk from the historic Multnomah Village, in Southwest Portland. Right now, the surrounding neighborhoods are bursting with Spring blooms and green lushness. Though it's been raining on and off almost constantly since I arrived, I hardly miss the sun because everything else around me is so colorful and rich and thriving. I've already deeply fallen in love with moss. And Portland. Did I mention Portland?

A collage celebrating my new love affair with moss.

The house I'm residing in is cush and cozy and contains one cat, who has already grown quite fond of me and I of him. Bo has been a great help in helping me unpack, keeping me company as I write letters of gratitude to those who have helped me on my journey, and making me feel a little less alone now that I've arrived at a place where so far, I have no friends and know very few people.

My new friend.

Because yes - although I've felt full of the richness and fullness of life in a new place and the adventures that await, I've also begun to feel the depths of loneliness and homesickness that one tends to feel when the adrenaline of the trip starts to wear off, and the reality that one is going to be in a place on their own for the foreseeable future starts to set in. I don't have another destination to look forward to in another three days if something goes wrong, or I don't feel totally comfortable here. It's time to settle into that beautiful discomfort, friends. That stickiness. Ready or not, here come the growing pains. The putting-myself-out-there not necessarily bearing fruit the first time I do it. The possibility (and even probability) of rejection or failure in trying new things.

But folks - this weekend, I've gotten out of the house. I've finally actually journeyed into part of the heart of Portland, and feel that despite it all, the world is still my oyster (note to self: look up where that saying comes from).

Mural spotted on a walk around Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

Yesterday, I drove through and meandered around Hawthorne Street, a happening place on the East side of Portland. After a lunch of spinach and cheese empanadas and hot chocolate at Pambiche's, a Cuban restaurant a couple blocks away, I went in and out of shops on Hawthorne for the better part of three hours, occasionally buying but mostly perusing; vintage stores by the dozen, a record shop, an assortment of artsy & craftsy places, and finally, the famous Powell's bookstore.

Pambiche feast.

It's amazing how much getting out into the world broadens your perspective, makes you realize how much can come of one interaction, even if all you do is help someone pick up their rocks.

Loving and missing everyone back in Ann Arbor very much. Even though so much has changed for me since I left, that certainly has not!

xoxo grace

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