I’ve been in Portland for 9 months now and this past week has proven to me that it’s really becoming home. While I instantly fell in love with the city, it wasn’t home. While I had my boys and my husband, it still wasn’t enough to feel complete. I was often homesick (and still am) for my Tucson friends/family. I was still aching over the loss of good mexican food and Eegees sandwiches. I missed the mountains that reassured me which way was north. And, then, this past week I just hit an ultimate low for me. I started missing the monsoons and the smell of the desert after a good downpour. I revisited our former life by thumbing through hundreds of pictures and videos and with each memory the sadness got heavier and heavier. I missed my house, my privacy, my morning runs, my friends, my family, nights on our deck watching the stars, familiarity, but mostly I missed the safety and security of the life we had built. We had it all one night and seemed to lose it all the next. It literally happened that fast. Then the sadness and pain of the one year anniversary of last year’s event silently crept in to my already depressed state of being. It began to feel like an elephant was sitting on my chest. That elephant kept me in bed for days on end. That elephant stifled anything positive that may have existed in that moment. That elephant kept me closed up, holed up, covered up, and seeking the refuge of denial in all it’s glorious ignorance. Adam was experiencing many of the same symptoms and had shut down from all of us. We even managed to bring down our marriage therapist who needed to “change the energy in her room” after we left! So I felt alone. I was Depressed, anxious, afraid of losing more, silenced, forgotten, and so many other words that fall somewhere between the lines of self pity and full blown depression.
It was in those dark days that Portland began to show me that it was becoming more than just a place I live and more of a place where I am loved. Maybe Portland has been showing me this all along and I just became aware of it. I found that I’m making friends and they’re pretty awesome people. And some of them have a little bit of crazy which makes them all the more awesome.
In my dark days of this past week I had one friend email me to check in on me. Another texted me with positive words and insisted that we go out for tea. One offered to cook dinner. Another took me out for lunch. Another got me out of the house to take the boys swimming and, as always, had prepared better than me so gave my boys snacks and reprimanded them when needed. She just let me be quiet and sit in the comfort a chair (that she brought) with my toes dipped in the water. No requirement for me to put on a fake face. Another invited us for a playdate. And a neighbor inquired about why she wasn’t seeing the boys and then came over to get them and gave them a few hours of jumping time on her trampoline. Every one has really just loved me and accepted that, yeah, sometimes life kicks you pretty hard and it’s okay to have dark days when you’ve been handed blow after blow. It’s okay.
And then there were (are) the crazies that really make me feel at home. The ones who make me laugh and they do it all by just being themselves. One of these crazies showed up at my house unannounced last week when I don’t think I had brushed my teeth (or hair) in days, was still in PJs, had let the house fall victim to the four tornadoes that exist within these walls, and as soon as she said “hey, you don’t look so good” allowed me to just start crying. No judgement. No trying to change the situation. Just a listening ear and a great hug. She’s the first friend I made in Portland and I love her more and more every day! I love that she texts me selfies all the time….from anywhere, including public toilets. Here’s some of our selfie texts:
Yeah, I love that lady! She puts the crazy in my life and makes me feel like I might just be normal after all.
Next is the friend that pushed me to recognize my depression/anxiety and to get out and run a half marathon with her this past weekend. Knowing that I would feel much better running she persevered until she got me out the door and picked me up for the race. What I love about her is that once she lets her walls down she is just a little bit nutty too. The perfect kind of nutty. Here’s what happened during that race that made me fall head over heels for this woman. The finish line was at the bottom of a very big downhill. A VERY steep downhill. And she just went for it. Full speed with her arms and hands flying around like loose noodles and screaming at the top of her lungs, “I love this hill!” “I’m so happy!” “This hill is awesome…c’mon, Amy, run! Run!” The spectators were yelling back at her….all smiling. They were yelling, “Yeah, that’s how a finish should look!” Happiness is contagious and just watching her let loose and run free were enough to pull me out of any funk I was in. Remember that episode from Friends where Phoebe runs with Rachel? Yeah, that was the good crazy in my friend this weekend!
Last but not least are the moms I have met through my running group and book club. I’m feeling really super super stoked to be part of the Hood to Coast relay team with these moms but I was still uncertain if they were gonna be crazy enough for me to feel at home. And sure enough they proved to be just perfect. We were sitting around planning our weekend race and I thought it’d be fair to mention that since we are running long distances over 24 hours with little sleep and no real meals in a small ass van, I should warn everyone that I swear like a sailor. I love the F word. And it flows freely without a filter.
If any of you are offended by foul language tell me now so I can start curbing it.
The response I got assured me that I had stepped on the right crazy train (well, technically crazy minivan).
Oh, fuck it! This bitch and I can’t be in the same van! It’s gonna be all fucks and bitches for 24hours!
So with that, the cloud of depression has lifted. It’s pretty much all sunshine and roses now. Portland has become the place of crazy and love. Home.