I am home for a couple of weeks.
Not the place I live; I haven’t quite moved there yet, but the place that will always, always be home: the valley I grew up in, the town I went to school in, the house I grew up in. I’ve spent more than half my life now not living here, and a lot has changed – the house has been added on to over the years, and is weirdly unfamiliar in some ways. The town, likewise, has lost and added places that cause me odd spots of discomfort when I visit. I still expect a large grocery store where the new library has been for years. But it is still home, the landscape and buildings and places that I wander through distorted versions of in dreams.
Walking through town is surreal in its own dreamlike way. Flashes of memory overlay the streets. Here’s where I saw that one car one grey overcast afternoon. Here’s where my friends and I hung out at Oktoberfest. A suddenly pang recognizing here’s the street where he lived. Hazy memories, sometimes hard to believe they were real and not
just another dream.
My mom parked the car outside a friend’s house to run in and drop something off; I stayed in the car.
I could see across the valley, clouds drifting across the mountains, miles and miles away, so high up above the snow. The sense of scale, the vastness – it is so apparent here, how very big the clouds are, how high, how immense. It’s so peaceful. Relaxing.
A couple of years ago, in a fit of despair, trying to explain to my then-significant other how distraught I was living in the big East Coast city, how the density there, the very geography in the region, the landscape, gave me no peace no solace and no nourishment, I said, “I feel like I’ve been cut off from my gods!” I was an agnostic then, and he’s an atheist, but I could think of no other way to even try to describe how spiritually bereft I felt living there.
That was what finally broke me of any desire to keep trying to make a living there. After too many years, I finally acknowledged, a year ago, maybe a little more, that I would never, ever, never be happy there. If I got my dream job, if we lived in a different house, it would make no difference. I’d had a series of brief, but intense and heartwrenching dreams about being back in Colorado, back in Oregon. I’d known for years that this valley, this part of the country, it felt right, it was home, but I wanted to be done moving, and I had so many friends in the city anyway.
Driving through town this afternoon, seeing places I spent years with, that still wind their way through my dreams decades after I last lived here, I thought, “This place isn’t just a part of my mind, it’s deeper than that, it’s inseparable from me, it’s like it’s part of my soul.” (And then “. . . Is there a Norse concept for that? Is that even a /thing/?”)
I’ve had a couple major divinations done in the past year – one shortly after Weird Things started happening, and another just before I left the city. The first one told me not only that I was, in fact, in contact with Who I thought I was, but confirmed – somewhat to my dismay, at the time – that I have some no-kidding serious ties to the land out here. That my prospects for a job were better out West. The ties to the land came up again in the recent reading, repeatedly. Most amusingly, “Were you born out there?” “Uh, yes?” “I think you died out there. . . Sorry, that just came to me.”
Over the last several months, one of the things I’ve been trying to figure out is just what it is I am Meant to be Doing, if there ever was some particular Job They wanted me to do, and while I don’t have the details, it is clear that part of my Work (though not my primary Job, as it were) does indeed have to do with the land.
But – not quite here. Not at home, in the arid, rural, sunny part of the state, where the hills are glorious tawny shades in late summer, and the dense forest is only at higher elevations.
I need to be near the coast.
And truth be told, I don’t know if, if I had a real choice in where to live, if I would move back here, to this small town, hours from the nearest real city. I’ve spent my adult life in cities, and there’s a lot I like about the conveniences and variety of urban environments. I like not owning a car. (I have not-so secret hopes that eventually, Work will require me to live somewhere more rural than the city I’m in the process of moving to in the hopes of finding a job.)
But as great as cities are in their own way, there is absolutely nothing to compare to the peace of the slower pace of life here, the openness of my little Western home town, nothing in any city I’ve been in, to compare to the open sweep of the valley, the mountains, the massive clouds moving across the sky, the feeling of connection, how right the sense of scale I get, of my small self, my place, in relation to all that glorious wild vastness.