I feel like I’m home….
As I write this I’m sitting in a hotel room in Port Angeles, Washington. Laurie and I are on summer holiday, and have decided, after all this time, to visit Victoria, BC. Tomorrow we drive the car onto the ferry Coho, and 90 minutes later we’ll be in Canada. You, dear reader, won’t see this until we’re back home, because I don’t like making big public announcements that the house is empty until after it’s not empty any more. No sense making it easy for them.
If you’re not someone who’s known or followed me for a long time, this might not seem like such a big deal, but this area was a second home for us for many years. For well over a decade my mom and dad owned a cabin near Port Ludlow, and while they rented it 11 months of the year, July was always reserved for them, and they would drive up and spend the month relaxing and putting in the garden planting things and generally enjoying cabin life. And for many of those years, for one week or so every July, Laurie and I would drive up and join them. It’s how we discovered the Pacific Northwest, and then Victoria, where we started day tripping, fell in love with it, and then started spending as much time there as we did mom’s cabin (which didn’t always make mom happy, but, well…)
When I left Apple in 2006, not only did I lose the 4 weeks of vacation a year I’d accrued by then, but I ended up moving jobs a few times before I settled in to a stable job I was happy with, and that made scheduling vacation tough. Mom and Dad decided they weren’t up to the drive any more, and offered the cabin to me, and I told them that at that point it simply didn’t fit in my plans, so mom made the decision to sell it. And then in 2008 my dad got sick and died, and I got sucked into doing what it took to get move through that and settled down into her next phase of life. Laurie started back to school along the way, I went to work for Palm, where it was three years of failing startup crazy before HP bought us and put us out of our misery….
So there were a bunch of years where Laurie and I took very short or no vacations together because we simply couldn’t make things line up. A few years ago we started making more concerted efforts to get that going again, and so obviously Victoria was an obvious place to plan for, but for various reasons we deferred. Two years ago, it was because I felt my knee problems and poor fitness wouldn’t work well in a city we love walking in (and I was right), and so we ended up at Kaloloch Lodge in the Olympic National forest, which we really enjoyed, and last year, we decided not to do the driving to Victoria, and so ended up back on the Oregon Coast, also one of our favorite places to be (so no complaints).
This year, I decided to stop waiting for everything to be perfect, and to just make it work, and so here we are, almost back in a city we’ve long wanted to live in — and yet haven’t visited in almost 15 years.
The drive from our house in Silicon Valley to Port Angeles is around 900 miles. We take it in two stages, usually sleeping the first night in Medford, about 400 miles out (and 7-8 hours of driving depending on traffic and weather). Today we took that second step of 500 miles, about 8.5 hours, and made it back to Port Angeles.
I love the drive. It gives me time away from distraction to think, to plan, to talk to laurie, to sketch out in my head future ideas and projects. It’s almost a medication, and I’ve spent some time tonight in the room writing down a few possible writing projects to explore later.
But a strange thing happened as we hit Olympia and shifted from the 5 to the 101 for the drive up the Olympic Peninsula. I found myself awash in memories coming back, and feelings. I started thinking of people I hadn’t seen forever; and honestly, most of the people we got to know up here were closer to mom’s age and are gone now, so there’s not much to go back to there today.
But I’d drive past a place we used to visit or drive past, and memories would come back. Or I’d just see the stands of pine along both sides of the road and smelling the pine forest, and all the years of being upon here just opened up and came back. At one point I said to Laurie “I feel like I’ve come home”, and I do.
And in some ways that’s a problem. Because I long wanted to live up here, and coming back and visiting, even the drive through, had brought that feeling back, strong. I’m not at all sure if this is some fleeting fancy that will pass when I’m back in my real home where I’ve dug in decades of roots or not. If not, I’m not sure what that means.
It’s not like I suppressed these thoughts, it’s more like over the years of not reinforcing them they faded and lost power on me, and now that I’ve returned, so has that urge to want to be here.
It’s something to explore, to talk to Laurie about as I understand it better, to see what happens over time. But it’s almost as if I lost a part of me along the way, and now I’ve found it again. I’m just not sure what to do with it or how to integrate it into the life I built without it.
It’s an interesting conundrum to which I can only say “stay tuned”. I sure wasn’t expecting this, but now that it’s appeared, I’m going to see what it leads to. It’s not exactly the sort of thing you can ignore or shove in a corner and be happy with yourself…
I can be sure of one thing. I’m definitely going to be spending more time up here down the road, not less. Because I’d forgotten how much I miss it, now that I’ve finally returned.
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