I want to take in every last bit of Oregon, but I want to write about it while I’m in it, so I’m going to try to do both.
We’re on the 101 S. headed home. Scott and I have been on the road for nineteen days; merging and turning along Coast Highway towards Oregon from San Diego to endure the chaos and occasional break in plans a road trip provides, hoping to feed on the spirit of spontaneity.
I just took a drink out of our water bottle. It’s humid in there and it smells like mildew. I can’t believe I just noticed. I think I’m ready to go home when I encounter things like that, but a part of me thinks I would be very happy in Oregon. Of course, it’s easy to fall in love with a place when you’re on vacation. But I love the wild we found here. I felt like we were breathing it in and becoming wilder ourselves.
I just spent almost an hour in an antique mall looking for these detailed little German shot glasses with tall necks that Aunt Liz served fresh squeezed orange juice in at her cabin. I left with a small porcelain Mickey Mouse for my cousin’s new baby-- of course they didn’t have the shot glasses. Maybe a part of me just thought I needed them so I could be sure I was bringing some of that wild feeling home. Like if I served orange juice in those cups I would be like Aunt Liz, a wilderness woman.
This morning I went for my last surf in Oregon. The only guy out told me the water was 50º, which if it was, it is the coldest water I’ve ever been in by five degrees.
When I first paddled out, I was alone. I focused on feeling the wind against my face, wondering about the tourists taking pictures on the cliff above, who they were and what they loved about Oregon. I tried not to think about my biggest fear that developed when we planned to come here--the sharks. The big ones, the little ones, especially the white ones. I even opened my eyes when I was duck diving because I wanted to reassure myself that there weren’t any lurking below. But checking on that is scary, like tip-toeing downstairs to see if the bump you heard in the night is a burglar. I looked at the sand brushing back and forth across the bottom, the waves making their own art on the ocean floor, before I thought my eyes would freeze in their sockets.
A few five foot sets began marching towards me. I couldn’t decide what to do with them at first. Going out to them seemed like creeping deeper into shark territory, but waiting for them to come to me seemed like waiting to get hit by an avalanche. After getting bowled over by a few, the competitor in me couldn’t leave without catching one and seeing what I could do with it. I loved the sensation of being smaller than the waves. Running after some of those closeouts felt like chasing trains. I only lasted 45 minutes before my hands turned both pale and bright red and I couldn’t close my fingers.
My dad just texted me that the water in San Diego got up to 72º. Although we don’t have redwood trees or sea stacks that stand out in the water like crossed-armed giants protecting the waves from the winds.
This trip started nearly three weeks ago with little direction or planning. We went to Portland and barely found a place to stay. I fell from the top of the Burnside bowl to the bottom with my skateboard. Once when we were camping, the sheriff showed up to escort us off of property we didn't know was private 13 minutes after our whole campsite had been resurrected from the trunk of our car. But how monotonous and uninspiring things would become if there was never a miscalculation or malfunction. Spontaneity is careless, but pure.
I’m trying not to be sad about leaving Oregon. Aunt Liz said that she likes to think of life like seasons rather than phases. She said she appreciates every season that she lives amongst up in her cabin on the mountain, just likes she has appreciated every season of her life. Maybe Oregon was a season of my life. Or maybe it was the start of a new one.