|Ramona, Grant Park|
We've lived in Portland for a month now. It feels both strange and wondrous.
When we get on the freeway after visiting my mom, it is still weird to exit back into Portland onto I-84 rather than continue on towards Seattle on I-205. It was eerie to take Noé to school on his first day to the school building my dad attended. I, of course, have no memories of his high school years, but I always try to picture him walking those hallways circa 1969.
A lifetime full of memories in the city that has always had my heart. I was at the post office a couple weeks ago and I had this instant flash bulb memory of waiting in line as a 21 year old at that same post office on no sleep and sporting sweats. I had just finished my Washington Seminars DC internship and I was mailing off final papers in exchange for a college diploma. I was so relieved. BYU was hard for me and I was glad to be done.
We pass Blind Onion Pizza and I remember that first impromptu lunch with Ed when we both worked for The Oregonian. We discovered we were both reading Phil Jackson's Sacred Hoops and both followed women's basketball religiously. It's amazing where one slice of above-average pepperoni and sausage pizza can take you in life.
We take the boys on a bike ride down to Saturday Market for elephant ears and I am once again a little girl and my Grandpa Razz is handing me my very first taste of the cinnamon sugar and doughy goodness wrapped in wax paper and only found in Portland.
I feel relief because the boys are settling well. Noé has been doing really well since school began and Ed arrived from Seattle. The special ed department at his school seems well-organized and the activities they have done, like making slime for science class, keep him engaged. Asher, although he misses his friends in Seattle, is enjoying his new school and all the activities. He made friends from the first day and he likes most of his teachers and classes. It isn't perfect - they didn't have a Spanish class to accommodate him and his core teacher sounds like she is working overtime to instill a hatred of reading in her students. But other things are really outstanding - such as the music program. He is playing in two jazz bands as well as the symphonic band and running cross country and loving it all. He will thrive and I think he will make even better friends here who will take him through high school.
After a hot, smoky beginning couple of weeks, the weather has been glorious. Sunny during the day, cool at night, with hints of autumn in the air.
Ed and I sit and stare at each other across the table and then laugh at our ridiculous life. We go to bed and we wake up together as a family. That itself feels magical after years of uneven, grueling work schedules and swapping childcare responsibilities. We both work from home. No commute, one aging Honda CRV that lies dormant on the street, an arsenal of bikes in the garage. A tiny charming home in the coveted Grant Park neighborhood. We're making less money than we have in the past, but we cover the bills just fine. We bike up to Alberta Street for warm croissants and raspberry jam at Petit Provence and ice cream at Salt and Straw.
A bus whisks Noé away to school and brings him home late each afternoon. Asher rides his bike the mile to his middle school early in the morning with his sheet music and stick kit for early morning jazz band. Next year, the renovations for the high school around the corner from us will be complete and they can walk to school, through Grant Park and past the bronze statues of Ramona and Henry and Ribsy (this is Beverly Cleary's neighborhood after all), for their final years of public education. The symbolism of my kids trudging past their childhood book heroes each day and entering the doors of the large, historic high school will not be lost on me.
I feel the pull of my kids, the waning years of intimacy with them and any remaining influence on their world view. This is our final sanctuary. I aim to regret nothing.