Tag Archives: Newport


22 Jun

When I was a kid my sister and I would ride our bikes through the neighborhood deciding on the two best houses that were side by side — because we were going to be next door neighbors. If I walked through my backyard and crossed the bridge my dad built I was at my aunt and uncle’s house, which just happened to be next door to my cousin’s house, and down the street from my grandfather’s house. When you grow up like that and love it, like I did, you can’t imagine life any other way.

So it is sometimes strange that I have found myself somewhere else entirely. I expected to be down the street from my sister and minutes away from family birthday parties and dinners. I wanted my kids to have the magical childhood that I did. One filled with friends you’ve known forever, cousins that aren’t strangers, and bike rides to swim practice with nothing but your towel around your neck and your goggles on your handlebars. Less than a year ago I didn’t even know Newport existed and now we are raising our daughter here.

It’s the end of June and we’re still wearing jeans and long sleeves. We put our sandals on and try to wear short sleeves because it’s going to be 60 and not 55! We go outside and it’s the absence, not presence, of cicadas that’s deafening. Summer swim team may happen, I don’t know, but it’s indoors and a thunderstorm would be about as likely as a snowstorm.

Those things that just spell summer to me do not exsist here. It’s like I’m waiting for something that may never happen — like living next door to my sister or across town from my parents or even getting back to Virginia. And this dream I’ve had for myself since I was a little girl is inside this balloon. I’m holding on to the string desperate not to lose my grip, but I know there are only two choices: let it go freely or cling to it and watch it wither. So I find myself slowly letting go because in my wanting to give Abigail a cheap recreation of the childhood I had, I am depriving myself of seeing the magic in the one she is making for herself.

Like the thrill of a golf course emptied out for the day with green grass stretching in every direction. Nothing but room to run after your daddy in your favorite too small hoodie and new shoes. Conquering the slight undulations in the earth as if they were mountains. And a laugh that echoes through the trees and may just touch the ocean.

Sitting there on the 6th hole with Hank beside me I knew I was watching magic. So if letting go of my own notions of what childhood should be gives Abigail room to create one all her own then I’m up for the adventure. To the unknown. Together.


Finding Peace

10 May

Part of the reason I write this blog is for myself but I mostly write for Abigail. She is so small and wonderful and everything seems to be happening so fast. Perhaps one day she will be still again and will climb into my lap and ask what she was like as a baby and I’ll have some stories to tell her about growing up on the Oregon coast. Ones that aren’t hard to remember and in pieces, but whole ones that have been saved because I took this time to flesh them out. Or maybe one day an adult Abigail will ask me if she should take a great opportunity which means following an unknown path and she will find strength knowing that her parents once took a similar risk.

But the other reason I write and post is to stay connected. To say the things that I might if I were still there. Because somehow these people I have met along the way have become part of who I am without even realizing it.

And then I’m sure there are people that read my posts and think I need to just put a sock in it and get on with my life. And that’s fine, too. Maybe I do. But those people have probably never lived in Virginia and then moved to Oregon. It would be tough for anyone.

But when I sit down to try and pinpoint what exactly is so different I have trouble. Appalachian Mountains – Cascade Mountains. Atlantic – Pacific. Deciduous Trees – Evergreen Trees. Sweet Tea – Chai Tea. At first it seems like there aren’t many differences at all because the differences aren’t in the physical things. People say Oregon is a beautiful state and it is. But so is Virginia. The real difference lies in the state of mind. The attitude. So it’s been an adjustment to the openess, the informality, and the free spiritedness.

To some, changing is a sign of weakness. To me, it is a great challenge of strength. I will never stray so far from the core of who I am that I lose my sense of self. (I will probably never have a compost pile and I will always secretly want an Amstel Light.) But the challenge we all face is to realize that we can only become the best version of ourselves by being open to new experiences. To allow change to happen when it should.

Life here isn’t all tears and sadness. In fact, my car (okay minivan but I’m still in denial about that) now proudly sports an Oregon license plate and you know what, I like it. The Oregon license plate is quite nice. And fortunately – so are the people. I’m lucky they put up with an uptight east coaster like me.  I’ll find my peace.  I always do.  This time I just happen to have a lot of people helping me out both near and far – stranger and friend.

Tiny 255

20 Jan

I could write about how sad it was for me to lock the door of our house on 11th for the last time, tears streaming down my face. But I’d be lying. If there were tears involved they were joyful ones. I don’t think I realized how unhappy I was there. Not that we didn’t have happy moments, we definitely did, but having given up my career to become a stay at home mom I didn’t realize how important “home” would be. Now having finished unpacking our new house to the point where I don’t wake up and feel swallowed by brown packing paper and corrugated cardboard boxes Abigail and I have time to do fun things like see salamanders at the library and play endless amounts of peekaboo. We have our space back, not exactly as it was before, but dare I say it? Even better than it was before.

I can look back on our time at the house I affectionately call “tiny 255” and even smile at our experience there. But a month ago the things we now remember while laughing were once a source of stress and a lot of low moments for me. Time is interesting in the way that it sweeps things right along and what feels like forever can quickly become a billboard you pass on the highway – so big and urgent, then quickly gone and forgotten. And through it all I find myself wanting to remember, not just the fact that it was our first place in Oregon, but the little things that took some getting used to. My generation typically doesn’t have many stories of hardship, you know, the ones involving snow and hills and folding up aluminum foil. And those stories are important. Very important for keeping snarky teenage attitudes in check. Now, I can proudly draw from my own little bag of hilarity thanks to “Tiny 255” when my kids, ahem Abigail, start whining about the unfairness of life (perhaps an unfairness like being 16 and not wanting to drive the minivan to school.) This is all hypothetical of course. Abigail will be perfect. Kidding.

But kidding aside, there will come a time when I don’t remember exactly what it was like at “Tiny 255” with only flutters of things coming to mind as the wind blows them my direction.

The next door neighbors that so graciously saw their bathroom window as the perfect place to shout out greetings to me whenever I was in the back yard. The other neighbor that Ryan fondly referred to as “What was that lady’s name? Rainbow…Sunshine…” (10 minutes later) “Peanut!” The single gas heater that was perfectly positioned beside our sofa and was so loud that we had to turn it off to watch a movie, with double socks, a sweatshirt, and a blanket. The ghost that I swear took Abigail’s navy pants, enjoyed watching me look for them all over the house for weeks on end, and then neatly deposited them on Abigail’s dresser one morning. And the attic, that beautiful master suite where I spent many very cold evenings listening to the wind whip around the house praying a simple prayer that involved the words, “Get me out of here.”

I’m proud that we made it work, some people do with a lot less for a lot longer, but I’m also happy to know that part of our life has blown on by.

Trouble on the High Seas

5 Oct

I’m not going to lie. The first day on my own in Newport was hard. When I moved to Lynchburg I went from getting married to going on our honeymoon to starting my new teaching job. It seemed life would never slow down, and really, it didn’t. So it was hard not to think of everything we had left behind. This crazy journey we had been preparing for over the last few months had come to a screeching halt and reality was setting in. A reality that included a twin air mattress to sleep on because Ryan had confused the terms “twin” and “double.” By the time the mattress was unrolled and the mistake was realized, the store was closed and what could we do. I couldn’t help but laugh as Ryan tried to figure out why the picture on the box showed a much bigger mattress than the one laying on the floor in front of him. It was around 3:00 in the morning when we realized that the one furnace in the house was not working. A very cold Abigail made for even tighter conditions on our luxurious air mattress. Morning came, Ryan went off to work, and I was left with nothing it seemed except for a very cold house, a very cranky baby, and a very needy Newfie. It was camping at best with the movers not expected to arrive until Wednesday. I was optimistic, I would spend most of the morning running errands and when Abigail went down for her long nap I would be able to clean most, if not all, of this little house. The errands which would have take several hours in Lynchburg, took an hour, if that. I stopped by the rental company to see about the furnace. “Did you know the furnace is not working at the house on 11th?” “Did you have the gas turned on?” Nope. Whoops. I got back into my car and felt the tears that were surely on their way. How could I have been so stupid, but more than that I was embarrassed. I drove the mile back to our house and realized that it was 10:30. Now what? I tried to put Abigail in her pack-n-play for some “play” so I could put some things away or at least get started on cleaning. I couldn’t even lay her down before she grabbed my neck and started screaming. A pattern that continued well through her long nap time. I alternated between sitting on the fireplace and walking around the house trying to comfort her. As I walked, I wondered how everything on that moving truck was going to fit into this tiny space. It wouldn’t and I already knew that. But suddenly it felt like all of those boxes were pressing down on me. A big gust of wind came and knocked over the 6 foot piece of fence on the side of the house. Hank was bounding around desperately needing exercise, or at least a potty break, and Abigail was still crying and holding on to me for dear life. I was lonely and sad and I really needed a friend at that moment to call and say, “I am having the worst day ever.” But I couldn’t pick up the phone without choking up. I had been feeling so positive as we drove across the country and I hated that I was already wishing I was back in Lynchburg. I took a walk around the neighborhood and tried to memorize the order of the streets. We walked until Hank sat his big booty down on the sidewalk and refused to move. And I laughed.  As the laughter poured out of me I realized that as foreign as it seemed to be in this new community, some things would never change. In a couple days we would feel more settled. We would be able to make a meal in our kitchen. Abigail would have her favorite rocking chair back. The gas would be turned on. And we wouldn’t have to sleep on that twin mattress.


12 Sep

We really shouldn’t have made Walmart the first place I saw in Newport, but we needed toothpaste. One mini tube for 6 days between two people is just not enough and toothpaste should not be something you try to “conserve” anyhow. I typically do not find myself to be a judgemental person, but when thinking about who I could see myself being friends with in this new place I was guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. I whispered, “Ryan, am I going to have friends here? Are there any normal people here?” I was getting worried because it seemed that with every person we passed my chances of finding a friend were getting smaller and smaller. I could have hopped on the plane back to Lynchburg right then, painted the soles of my shoes with Gorilla Glue, and dared anyone to try and move me. But, then I realized how completely psycho I was being, so I tried to keep things in perspective by telling myself things like, “The people in every Walmart are always a little interesting.” Right?!?!?

Three days later I am slowly coming to realize that just because change is hard does not mean that it shouldn’t be welcomed. Everything we see and experience on this trip is helping to put things into a new focus. It is not often that one gets to move to a new place that embraces an altogether different attitude and way of life. You will not find the majority of people in Newport living in big, fancy houses. Homes here are functional, a place to eat and sleep. You cannot exclude yourself from people that are different from you in terms of socioeconomic factors by holing yourself up in a brand new subdivision. You must coexist with all of your neighbors, and a quick drive through the small town will show you exactly what I mean. Well manicured homes are down the street from homes with peeling paint and children’s toys everywhere. But all of that is somehow not so important here.

What I saw as glaring inconsistencies with what I considered to be a respectable way of life have turned into challenges for refocusing my own priorities. Can we make a 1000 square foot house work if it means we get to be a couple blocks from the ocean? It was overwhelming.

I had to run 7 miles this morning. I decided that a beach run would clear my head and help me to think things through without worrying about the street names. Slowly my head cleared as I listened to the waves crashing and my feet crunching through the sand. Then it hit me, I was exhausted. Not just physically as I looked ahead to the end of the beach and realized that I had to go all the way back the other way, but emotionally, too. It had been hard to hold it all together. To keep a brave face. As I looked down I saw that beside me were a pair of footprints. I ran with those footprints for the next mile or so. Footprints that had been left by an earlier runner doing exactly what I had set out to do. But, I couldn’t help but have my mind repeat the “Footprints” poem that for so long hung in my parents bathroom. “The times when you have seen only one set of footprints is when I carried you.” I could go on and on about the flaws of Newport, but suddenly it didn’t matter so much. I want to approach this as the adventure of a lifetime that it will be. Sometimes it will be hard, but it will be in those moments that we will carry each other through it.

Newport is a small beachtown. An active fishing community that brings in Dungeness crab, albacore tuna, and salmon (to name a few). A place where people from all over come for a vacation. Barking sea lions below the piers echo along the bay. Restaurants serve local seafood and produce – much of it organic and sustainable in two small, but thriving downtown locations. A place that prides itself on it’s performing arts center. Somewhere that jeans and a fleece are just fine for a fancy dinner.  Somewhere  you can see cliffs sweeping majestically on the backside of miles of beautiful, clean beaches.

Will I make the friends of a lifetime? It remains to be seen, but I think Newport is a place where our whole family will become a lot closer and more centered on the beauty that sometimes rises out of madness.