Thursday, September 8, 2011

Just Looking for a Home

Portland's TriMet: it's working for me so far
If it’s Thursday, you may ask, why is there no poem or Writers Talk interview or book review on Robert Frost’s Banjo?  It appears there may be some scheduling changes in the offing, dear readers.  In my new surroundings I am more interested in having some more “personal” posts on a somewhat regular basis, so that’s one thing you’ll be seeing at least some Thursdays.

I’ve been in Portland just over a month, & I’m very comfortable in a temporary housing situation provided by friends Sue & Jay who’ve shown me great hospitality & provided wonderful support.  But the fact is, I need a place to call my own, & living on a fixed income, this is a bit challenging.  But I will say this: I’ve gotten to know certain parts of Portland pretty fast as I’ve toured looking around at various subsidized housing complexes.  It’s also enabled me to get to know several bus routes fairly well in a short period of time. 

Food Truck, NE Alberta Street
 Yesterday, for instance, I spent the morning & much of the afternoon exploring north & northeast Portland, looking at subsidized housing units.  I like northeast Portland for several reasons, not least of which is that it’s flat!  Not a small consideration when you have a chronic lung condition!  In case you folks don’t know, Portland is essentially divided into quadrants, with a number of distinct neighborhoods in each.  The north & northeast quadrants are areas that are very much in the process of urban renewal/artification/hipsterification/gentrification—at least some parts.  Other neighborhoods over there are a bit sketchy.

A Night On the Town in Ortland? NE Killingsworth

But fortunately, there are several cool options.  I found it definitely paid to scout them out by bus & on foot—you can get a better sense of the neighborhood’s vibe that way, & since those will be my transportation options when I’m in my own place.  If you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know I love cars & road trips (witness the cross country drive in March of 2010!), but no cars for me in any foreseeable future.  As a side note to that, I am very happy to be someplace that’s on the Amtrak grid!  I’m hoping to make a California train trip at some point.

Anyway, it’s fun (tho it was a hot day, at least by Portland standards) to check out these new sights & figure out how I’d do things like buy groceries if I were living in a certain place.  Again, as you know if you’re a long-time reader, I’m not unfamiliar with urban life—I did live for almost 10 years in San Francisco.  But that was also over 13 years ago, so there’s certainly some adjustment.

The light bulb store - North Mississippi
Moving is not an easy thing.  I left behind a lot in Idaho, both literally in terms of stuff & emotionally in terms of important connections & a sense of continuity.  Sometimes it does feel daunting—I think about my age, the fact that I’m on my own, the fact that I have a chronic condition; all these things can be discouraging if I dwell on them.  But overall, I’ve felt most a sense of determination to make a new life here, & I’ve tried to focus on a few doable tasks everyday to build toward that.

& of course, it’s not like anything’s ever finished!  At some point, I’ll be in a place of my own, & there will still be new challenges.  Here’s hoping they keep me energized!

Oh by the way: any guesses on the source for today's post title?


  1. We're all pulling for you in your new adventure, walking to the grocery store with you, sitting behind you on the bus. Starting over in middle age is not the same as when we're young. But inside, I think there are many times we still feel 18 years old, carrying the same mixture of uncertainty, curiosity, and courage when we need it.

  2. Best of luck, John, and thanks so much for sharing it all with us.

  3. Thinking of you, John, and willing the right place for you to call 'home'. I can only think that The Boll Weevil Song might have inspired the title.

  4. Hi Jacqueline, Mar & Martin

    Jacqueline: Thanks so much! Yes, I think we do have the inner 18 year old, & the good thing is that we can also temper that with experience. Your support always means a lot to me!

    Mar: Thanks so much! Really appreciate your reading & commenting!

    Martin: Thanks! You are 100% right on the Boll Weevil song.

  5. Good luck with everything, and thanks for showing us glimpses of your journey. I like how you're finding the humor in it too; Ortland looks like an interesting city :)

  6. Hi HKatz: Thanks! Yes, one must find humor. & Ortland is indeed a great city!

  7. Hi John! I so can relate to your post, as a person who has left everything and everyone in order to relocate to an entirely NEW place. It is daunting at times.

    Thank you for writing this post. It's great to know I am not alone. I wish you every happiness and all the luck in the world, while you search for your new home! xoxo

  8. Hi Rach: Thanks for all those good wishes! I do think about you as someone in a similar situation, & I appreciate all you've posted about that too! Thanks for stopping by!


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