I sat next to a man today on the airplane who runs cost estimates for highway projects. He was born in Utah, has lived in Utah all his life, and he told me he will probably die in Utah.
Part of me wondered if it wasn't a shame for a person to stay in one place for their entire life.
Another part of me wondered why I have occasionally felt a lack of grounding...like a man without a country.
Another part of me wonders if that is just my nostalgia for Portland talking.
If you ever lived in Portland for any amount of time, and then moved away--you know what I'm talking about.
It is, I imagine, what nostalgia for "the old country," feels like. Portland is my "old country," and I have irrational, sentimental fits of longing for moss and douglas fir trees and rain-wet streets that stay wet hours after the storm passes.
The other day I saw a photograph of Portland and just the image of it made me pine for P-Town as one might for an old lover. Sometimes that longing is visceral. Like a shadow limb. A ghost of an embrace that has imprinted itself on my skin.
When I lived in Lubbock, it was worse. The million acres of cotton fields--they were the culprits, those billowy harbingers of discontent. It was a two hour drive to the nearest wilderness--and that was dusty canyon land. Portland then felt like some forsaken Eden.
Now I live in Utah, in a valley that sits below Mountains that I once thought were brown. The day we drove back into Utah County after living in Texas for a few years--an August afternoon in 2012, I remember thinking, ""the mountains look so green." This is not a word I would have used to describe them 13 years ago when I moved to Utah. This is not a word anyone associates with the Wasatch Front.
But this is home. For now. Forever? Who knows. The sun breaks over those mountains every morning on my way to work, and in the evening, that same light makes the mountains glow a gentle pink. The predominant natural image of my childhood was the everygreen tree--or trees, really. Thousands of them, a legion of green pines and cedars and firs; always the threat that they might take over. For my boys it will be these mountains--and the way they watch over us like giants, asleep on the valley's edge.
Mountains or trees? Cotton or Cottonwood? Oak or Douglas fir? Endless horizon or endless mountain range? Does it make a difference? has it already?