I know, looking back makes it easier to see the trail that got you here, but some of those bread crumbs really were much more meaningful than I assumed at the time.
Four years ago, about a week before I left Boston, Odin showed up. During our first conversation, He asked me where I saw myself in five years.
“Well, Portland, I guess.”
There was no response. Okay, good enough, I guess.
More tentatively, “And – doing architecture . . . ?”
“No,” He said. “Landscape.” (This was slightly distressing to hear but not a total surprise.)
I’ve often felt, cycling or walking or driving through Portland, that I was not just moving through the city, but just passing through. I’ve kind of always felt a . . . not-quite-here feeling.
I haven’t been involved in pretty much any of the social or cultural scenes here, despite having been an active volunteer with several organizations, two of them for over 3 years each. I’ve been much more interested in all the plants growing here than the people-stuff.
But, well, I was more fascinated by the gardens some people had in Boston than some of the social stuff, so that feeling of “just passing through” wasn’t anything I paid (enough) attention to.
Even after it would have made more sense to.
This was blatant and clear:
Two years ago, trying to help me cope with some great distress, They said, “Think of this place as a way station.”
This was a few days after I had a visit with one of Them, associated with a place about 200 miles from here. I went there to ask for some insight into an encounter with Them/that place the previous years, which involved an utterly overwhelming sense of “welcome home” from the forest around me. “Home?” . . . I had never lived in that area, I’d maybe been there once before in my life.
So this Power explained. “It is our desire to bring you home.”
The implications that could have for some of my Portland-area relationships were devastating at the time. (Now I do not think it will be disruptive; then I was a mess.)
Shortly after the “way side” conversation, I dreamed an enormous scaled and clawed hand gently plucked the back of my shirt between claw tips, lifted me, and set me down in some other hilly foresty landscape than what I’d been scrambling over.
It was a comforting dream.
I assumed I’d have more time here; I never put Odin’s non-response into context with this until very recently.
When I lived in Boston and would come home to Oregon to visit family, I flew in to the Boise airport.
During the drive home, we’d pass through many miles of very dry, sagebrushy landscape. Some parts had awesome views of hills in the distance. I loved seeing this landscape. “It’s good to be home,” was the general sense of my feelings.
I didn’t grow up in that landscape, it was never home; I grew up surrounded by agricultural fields on former grasslands and marsh. So, a silly thought, probably just tied to “Idaho” and “en route to home in Oregon” being just as good as being home, compared to Boston.
But has “home I grew up in” felt like a place I would want to return to now? I love it so much, and I’ve asked myself that often over the last few years – no. It makes me very sad, but it doesn’t feel like my place.
This one sounds really ridiculous to me but for many, many years I’ve thought of myself as “really probably a desert creature.” Because I like heat; I can adapt well to it. And I like dry heat. (I did grow up in a dry place, with hot summers and chilly nights, though I never thought of it as a desert.)
So: now I am going home. To the sagebrush and desert east of the big mountains. Close to the magnificent and heart-wrenching Ponderosa pine forests. Not quite as far as the forest that reached out to me three years ago, but – close enough, I guess? I never checked up on precisely what that Power meant by “home.” I assumed it meant “near those mountains” but . . .
Anyway. Perhaps in the future I will pay more attention to things like odd “gaps” in conversation, or weird answers, or pay more attention to odd thoughts I have about the places I am in. But sometimes I have wondered, when I’ve looked back at assumptions I never questioned – do They ever nudge me to just a tiny bit of forgetfulness, or to not caring enough to ask too many more questions, because it’s better if I don’t get a high-resolution roadmap earlier?