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 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.
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.