Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Left Coast

Okay, I've been meaning to come clean about this but have been putting it off. I think I'm ready now. Here goes.

I'm bi-coastal.

I know it's hard to believe and, trust me, it's a difficult life. The looks I get, people not understanding, the indecision, the not being able to remember where I am when I wake up on any given morning.

I have to blame my children. Two of them just up and moved to Oregon, which is on the West Coast or, as The Big Kat calls it, the Left Coast, while the third one refuses to leave Georgia, which, if I remember correctly, is on the East Coast, or, as the Big Kat would probably call it, the Right Coast. Then, the two who moved started procreating at an alarming rate, three kids in three years, and those kids turned out to be pretty darned cute despite their parentage and grand-parentage. And, to further complicate things, I have to believe my baby will have babies of her own at some point, little southern babies, not western babies.

So what was a Grammy to do? I tried staying in a hotel when I was in Portland but that was too expensive a way to seek refuge for very long. Stay with the kids? You’ve got to be kidding me. We don’t like each other that much, plus it takes me weeks to get used to west coast time.

I ended up buying a tiny condo in St. Johns, a quirky little village in the middle of Portland, where I’m within walking distance to my first and third grandchild and a pretty quick drive to my second. I like to describe my Portland condo as being like a not particularly well-appointed suite in a mid-priced hotel. I live there each Christmas vacation and during the summer. While I’m gone, my friend Susan waters my poor pitiful Atlanta houseplants each week and checks on my car to make sure it's still there. One thing I had to do was to give my cat Chloe time to die of old age before I could make my move to dual citizenship, as I was pretty sure neither of us would've survived her taking on this lifestyle.

I lucked out with my Portland home, parlaying someone else's misery into something good for me when I purchased it in a short sale. And I like to think, because I enjoy small spaces, my two homes are smaller together than the one home of many of my friends. For example, I have two bathrooms. They just happen to be twenty-five hundred miles apart. Rather inconvenient when I have guests, but otherwise just fine.

Although The Big Kat cleverly calls the West Coast the Left Coast, I’ve found Portland and Atlanta to be about equal on the liberal-o-meter, although that conclusion just might be based on the people I hang out with. Portland is, however, much greener than Atlanta. There are bike lanes everywhere and Portlanders take their recycling quite seriously, so seriously, in fact, that I’m a nervous wreck as pick-up day arrives each week. Am I putting everything in the correct container? Are the garbage people going to ridicule me because there is evidence of meat eating? Is possession of styrofoam in Oregon a misdemeanor or a felony?

Another difference between my Atlanta home and my Portland home is air conditioning, in that, in Portland, I don’t have any. When I tell Southerners that little tidbit of Oregon news, they automatically start fanning themselves with invisible cardboard funeral parlor fans. But, the truth is, except for a few days in late July, I don’t miss it at all. In fact, June almost always finds Portlanders in some kind of funky hoodie as they bike to the green market or recycling center.

In front of my Portland home. Note the bicycling family and the blue recycling bin.

I also like to think about how Georgia and Oregon are alike in a weirdly wacky diametrically-opposed kind of way. Georgia, on the East Coast, is the second most southern state in the contiguous US. Oregon, on that other coast, is the second most northern state within the put-together part of our country. They both have a gorgeous coastline, although Oregon has much more of it. They both have mountains and rivers and back-wood small towns and people with few teeth and/or meth addictions. They also both have professional sports teams and state universities with rabid football fans. I must say, however, that UGA's uniforms are much manlier than those green and yellow get-ups the poor University of Oregon players are forced to wear.

Despite all the ways Georgia and Oregon are alike and different, and my good luck in finding a second home in Portland, the sad bottom line of this otherwise happy story is that my first two children couldn’t have moved any farther away from their mama and still stay in the united part of the United States unless I lived in Miami and they moved to Seattle. But I’ve outsmarted them and I know where they live and I’ll be in Portland in a few days, as soon as I drive down to middle Georgia to kiss my third one goodbye for the summer.

I just wish I could have a cat.


Anonymous said...

Love it, love it! I love your sense of humor, graciousness, practicality, love, make the best of it, find a way to make it work, optimism, and your wonderful writing.
Mary B

Melissa said...

I realized this morning just how close we are (1 week!) to you getting here when the forecast calendar showed all the days up to when you get here! Oh, and by the way- the SCRAP mural on your picture up top is Bruce's.

Anonymous said...

I envy your "bi-ness," (But in a good way.). I've always enjoyed my visits to Portland. Have a great summer. Phil

Kate said...

Very smart girl! Now you can not-cook on both coasts! LOL

btw, I did know a woman who got a little kitty-cat that she leash trained and travel trained. They both were very happy together.
All is possible!

thanks, Marcia; is love to check in and find new posts.

marciamayo said...

Yeah, but Kate, Portland is where Trevor lives.

Kate said...

Oh, yeah; how wonderful!! lol

oklhdan said...

How exciting to have your feet planted on two coasts! I envy your adventurous spirit!

Batya said...

Two of my children live over the sea, a twelve hour plane trip. My other daughter and her family live in Atlanta. I have visited often and love Atlanta but now my 2 month old grandson (my only) is too far away. Nothing compares to Southerners for friendliness. I live in NJ which is a fairly long car ride and often a very expensive airfare for 3. My husband & I always travel (even overseas) with our six lbs. elderly dog - in the cabin comfortable in her little carrier. Think cat.
Your humor is a gift. Will come back to your blog.
Best, Paula Devi

Joan M said...

I envy your having two homes, and I love to read you!!
Your friend,

Grammacello said...

HUH What an idea.
I live in Canada near Toronto. My daughter , husband and my two grandkids , now 8 and 5 are in Seattle and my son, not married yet is in Halifax (Canada)-on the Atlantic coast.
Who knows where he may end up as he is a grad student but you REALLY have given me something to think about, here.....When I retire....

5webs said...

I can relate. I am originally from Northern California (which is the twin sister of Portland), and I now live in Virginia (or the twin sister of Hell as I like to call it). My goodness, were humans actually intended to live in such humidity? If I had my druthers, I'd be in Portland (or Seattle or Bellingham or Crescent City) tomorrow, but these people people insist on keeping me here for the time being ("these people" include my hubby, who is from Georgia BTW, my four-year-old, my three-year-old, and my two-year-old. They were all born in Virginia--traitors!) As for politics, people here seem to be far MORE liberal than they were in Northern California, but apparently they have never heard of the term "exercise". I don't drive, and so I walk everywhere, bad weather notwithstanding and children in tow, and people look at me like I am nuts. I have lived here for almost six years, and I walk every single day, and I can count on one hand the number of other pedestrians that I have seen in my travails. People here even drive to their mailboxes, I kid you not.

marciamayo said...

In Atlanta, people who walk always have a dog with them so no one will think they are homeless. I live just across the street from Piedmont Park, which is a gorgeous place to walk, BUT I have to take my life in my hands (or my feet) to cross Piedmont Avenue to get there. Not a walk-friendly city for sure. In Portland, it is much better although there are still some intersections that scare me silly.

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