Joining the Great Migration

If I’ve been more than usually quiet this last month and a half it’s because I’ve been preoccupied moving to Oregon. Turns out there’s even more to it than renting a large truck, packing up your life’s belongings and driving for twelve hours. There’s insurance and licensing and you find out how much stuff you truly need. Like blinds. Bike stands. Waste baskets. Spare sheets. A vet.

But I seem to be nearing the end of the turbulent times of change. Routine is creeping in again, even if that routine is necessarily different from my previous one. In the space it has lent me I’ve been writing, both fiction and letters, and hanging pictures. I have a studio now, and it is assembled to the point that I might begin working in it soon. Which is good, because we are already behind schedule on Perihelion 2017, and we have another ten titles to publish next year.

Which reminds me, I really must apply for that Business Permit.

Bend is a funny sort of city, which is probably why I like it so much. It was until quite recently not a city at all, and there is a tension here between all the people who want it to stay small, yet at the same time really want to be here and are proud of the place they live in. There are a lot of transplanted Californians, which gives the atmosphere a kind of comfortable familiarity. At the same time, these are largely Californians who have self-selected as the kind of person who is compatible with the Oregonian spirit, which appears to be slower, more relaxed, and less inclined to dance in the streets when it rains. There are many other out of state immigrants, but the common thread I find is that most of us came here from places that were not right for us, and, having found Bend, understand just how lucky we are to be here.

For myself I find I am not only a Californian in Bend, I am a writer in Oregon. I feel myself developing a new (if still not complete) understanding of Ursula K. Le Guin. I think it has something to do with the volcanos and the high desert.

So far I think the thing I like best about it is that, within walking distance of my house, there is a yoga studio, at least two bike shops, a frozen yogurt café and a hardware store, plus more coffee shops and restaurants than there was in the entirety of my old hometown.

Instead of being thirty minutes away by car, the vet is five minutes. I can ride my bike to the farmer’s market. I can also ride my bike to the dirt trails which lead up into and across the Cascades. The place is riddled with off-leash dog parks. The place is riddled with dogs, period.

Many people have asked in perplexity, “Why Bend?” when they heard about the move. But these have uniformly been people who either didn’t know me very well, or didn’t know Bend, or both. Everyone who knows me, who has visited the city, has looked at the quirky cafés, the bike shops, the dogs, the artwork rampant in the roundabouts, and nodded sagely.

“Of course,” they say. “This is your city.”

It’s not, of course. (I only just got here.) But somehow, though I never visited before 2013, I have managed to grow up into the sort of person who lives here.

And now I do.

I run. I bike. I work. I walk my dog over streets whose asphalt is made lumpy from all the roots growing under it. The houses crowd in tightly, craftsman and prairie style or modern custom built with funky windows and odd angles. There are ponderosa pines and quaking aspen. Every garage has at least two bikes in it. And there are dogs everywhere.

Now there’s me, too.

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