Portland

Thoughts and Observations: PNW Edition

“It may be that when we no longer know what to do,

we have come to our real work.

And when we no longer know which way to go,

we have begun our real journey.”

-          Wendell Berry

Thoughts and Observations: Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA

Journal Writings: March 22, 2017

Not many people use umbrellas here.  Karen said you get accustomed to the weather and generally don’t end up spending a lot of time in the rain.  After I left Mississippi Studios last night, the air smelled like camellias.  Wet, but not raining.  Cold, but invigorating. 

There is so much amazing art and craft makers here.  I can see how being in a maker space yields more makers.  I wouldn’t even know where to go in Baltimore.  There is so much pride in their place in this country.  Nothing like the way I feel for Maryland.  I think I could see having that pride for another place; I love how friends around the country have adopted their new states and cities into their homes and all ways of living.  I don’t really care about Maryland the same way.  I never have and have always hoped I would.  The art here inspires me – even the postcards I could turn into tattoos.  The more I throw myself into art and culture, the more I want to.  Plays and movies and music and art and writing and hiking and museums.  I can feel torn between saving money to pay things off and the well-spent money that is worth it for our creative growth. 

Things feel like they are changing, even if I don’t really know what exactly that is.  It’s like seeing the tips of bulbs emerge and not quite knowing if they are daffodil, crocus, grape hyacinth or tulip.  But there’s that anticipation of beauty and growth. Maybe a late cold snap will stunt them, or maybe a spring rain and warm day will surprise us by a sudden upward surge.  Something is happening, evening if we don’t know precisely what or when.  Or the migration of birds back north to breed.  Why should our lives be any different?  We’ve been resting all winter and we can stretch ourselves in newly imagined – and yet to be imagined – ways. 

I feel fortunate to travel this time of year.  I would travel any time of year, but this season of growth provides a good opportunity to reflect and dream and to see and explore and soak in.

I feel like the PNW rains are greening me as well.  The dull dust of a dry east winter is washing away, revealing the colors underneath.  My body stretches towards the impending warmth of the summer.  I found a yoga studio in Vancouver and stretched my body and my resilience, working out the sticky bits, finding room to move and to be.  I found a coffee shop where I could simply continue to exist for a while.  Phone off, pen out, staring out the window at a faded, peeling fresco of an Italian restaurant, and I’m reminded of other seasons of rain and growth, in other years, in other countries. 

How amazing is it when I allow myself to simply be, with no agenda, that the words begin to flow?  That all it took was a little space, a little removal from the constant buzz of technology.  Rather than look up the ideas popping in my mind on my phone, I write them on a napkin and allow this stream of words to continue to flow.  The words are writing themselves, like a Harry Potter wand in the sky of my mind.  I feel no control over what comes next.  The dregs of my latte are a rich cinnamon in the orange and white cup next to me. The white counter makes all I do a bright background – more curated than a typical tablescape.  I think of clean lines and silver and handmade objects, soft sheets and blankets; signs of a well-lived life. Some things go on gut and some need a little push.  Some need to marinade. 

These words resonated with me this week:

“I am made up of stitched-together parts and worn-out pieces and small, bright things and memories that bring happiness and sadness, and tiny patches that I picked up along the way and forgot where they came from.

“I am made from rips and tears and gentle stitching from myself and loved ones and strangers.

“I am a patchwork quilt.  Comforting and surprisingly warm.  Beautiful from a distance. A pattern of myself.  The unconscious ode of me.”

- Jenny Lawson