Fatalistic as it may be, this is a week of lasts. The last few nights in our apartment here. The last writer’s group meetup. The last time I’ll write Monday morning at Baker & Cook, spinning tales of the new normal and all points nearby. It is a bittersweet time, as the excitement grows to once again live in the Pacific Northwest, a place I’ve spent 24 hours within in the last year and a half, so does the dread of uncertainty. Will I see these people again? Will I see this city I’ve called home for eighteen short months again? Will I have the same support and creative collaboration, the same fun, the same love and friendship?
Of course I won’t. Nothing remains the same. But this is not a thing to mourn. It is a thing to celebrate, and between the planning and plotting we’ve done just that.
We move in two days. In two day’s time, Asian Tigers moving company will be tearing through our apartment, dodging a barking 11kg pooch, packing nearly everything of ours back up in boxes. For the next month, we’ll be living in temporary homes, living out of suitcases, as we await the slow boat from Singapore with essential housewares like a bed. Nothing will be the same, not upon our return, where the march of time has continued unabated, where those around us haven’t shared the same experiences. This isn’t to say this is a bad thing — growth rarely is — but rather a warning, to myself, if no one else. It’s been often said that repatriation is the hardest part of being an expat; the mind assumes, no matter how many times you tell it otherwise, that things remain as you left them. And why not? I’ll be back in my own house, living where I became comfortable for six-plus years. Why wouldn’t I just fall back into the same patterns?
Because it’s not the point. The point is change. The point is growth.
Growth, from a material standpoint, however, needs to take a back seat. We’re in solid paring-down territory, attempting to shed ourselves of all that is unneeded or will be rendered inoperable when plugged into American outlets with good ol’ American voltage coursing through. Fans, appliances, electrical knick-knacks like that possessed radio alarm of Beverly’s — they all must go. What is also going is the bed frame I bought from IKEA. IKEA, I love you but I’m never buying a bed frame from you again. I’m a big guy. We have a big mattress. Few times have I felt secure being suspended by something made of plywood and held together with those locking screws. I know, the Malm bed is like the Cadillac of IKEA bed frames but that’s like saying the Niners are the Cadillac of Santa Clara-based professional football teams. We’re not even bothering to sell that thing, just gleefully disassemble and toss. Waste be damned, that thing was scary.
Such is my mind set this week. There’s little time to focus on the heartbreak, the pending hole that will be in my heart shaped like writers from all corners of the globe who have inspired me, made me laugh and love and write more than I even though possible. We said some farewells on Saturday, made strong promises to keep up via social media — which will be honored — and it hasn’t really sunk in. Surely this is just another trip back to San Francisco? Surely I’ll be back…
I can’t let it get to me. Not yet. I have a whole week in temporary housing here to be a weepy little kid. But I have to confess that I will miss this place dearly. I’ll wake up some Saturday morning and have a craving for prata and fresh squeezed orange pineapple juice. I’ll wonder why I can’t just walk down the street and take my choosing of ten different food options for three dollars. I confess that I’ll miss the politeness of Singaporeans, the extreme lawfulness and the counter culture of poetry and burgeoning art.
But I’ll miss most the people that made this stay worth it.
As mentioned, this will be my last entry written in my “office” of Baker & Cook. It’s a worthy ending anyway, since I just filled up my coffee card. I didn’t manage anything else so clean, but I can enjoy my last latte, close the laptop and look around in satisfaction. I’ve written an inordinate amount of words in this cafe and even destroyed it in a piece of horror fiction co-written with Emma. I’m not feeling too overwhelmed by this ending though. It is just a cafe and while their breakfast is pretty damn good, it’s definitely time for a change anyway. Josh Bruce Memorial Seat lies open, but I’m not going to move over as I have so many times in the past. I’ve come to peace with the fact that I fell short on my book deadline. I’ll have something to look forward to in Portland along with the insane amount of reading I’m going to do with access to Powell’s again.
Things to do when we arrive back in the Rose City — find a good cafe for writing downtown.
So yeah, our temporary housing in Portland. Opting for downtown living over the burbs, since we live in the sticks, we’ve been located in a rather small 800 sq ft single bedroom in the Pearl District. I’m of two minds about the Pearl. It’s quite near the beating heart of town, and with us on Lovejoy, we’ll have unparalleled access to the train and street car. Some of our favorite places are in the Pearl, including the inestimable Bridgeport Brewing Company, aka, Leverage HQ. While I’ve yet to stumble upon any former Academy Award winning criminal masterminds, I’ve returned time and time again to what has become my favorite watering hole in the City of Roses. There too, live some memories with another group of people that fired my creativity and inspired my desire to better my talent in my career, the old team of AlphaCard, who by now, have almost all dispersed.
The Pearl is a noisy place, though. And it’s a strange place, the former warehouse district that has been since revitalized like many downtown areas of American cities in the last twenty years. However it’s shine, though, it’s relatively benign. It’s hard to wax nostalgic about failed warehouses. It’s not like North Williams, which has been white-washed so throughly it fucking gleams. Still, we’ll be rubbing elbows for a month with Portland’s nouveau riche in a place that will permanently feel overpriced for tiny little Portland, Oregon.
I can’t deny that I’m going to feel some apprehension at moving back to a city a tenth of the size of the one I’m currently living in. Portland has never felt like a big city1I mean, come on, PDX, I love you but you’re Portland, Oregon., but now after living in a town that would be America’s second-largest city — and is much, much, much, much nicer than America’s current second-largest city2no bias, but Fuck LA — it’s going to a hard adjustment, no lie.
I worry, too. Will wanderlust hit me after living in my beloved Rose City? Will the shine and the comfort and the cold and the gorge and mountains and wind wear thin on me?
I suppose time, as it always manages to do, will tell. Until then, gentle reader, I close out this penultimate entry of my time in the Lion City with a simple thought. I will miss this place dearly.