On this day, the 250th-week anniversary of being a parent, I, Stephanie of Creature Bug, do not-so-solemnly announce that life in Oregon as I know it is officially done.
Although we still have stuff in an apartment in Salem--Jason still lives there during the week--my life now happens here on the Family Farm, in my grandparents' house that my grandma no longer lives in since she lives next door with my parents now.
My clothes are here. The pantry is stocked. The fridge is full. All our mail has a Washington address. I have a phone number that begins with a new area code. I still teach in Salem, and still have my Oregon driver's license, but not for much longer.
It's true that I grew up here on this land, living here until I was 18 years old. But I lived in Salem for 15 years--fifteen adult years, which is considerably different than 18 childhood years. I went to college there, got a teaching job there, attended church there. I had my babies in the Salem hospital, walked along the sidewalks with my kids in a stroller. I read the newspaper almost daily, and visited the library weekly. I drank more cups of Dutch Brothers coffee than I can count. I've memorized the aisles of the grocery store, the nearest Walmart, and Costco.
I know the names of all the high schools, know the nearest parks, know the fastest way to get somewhere in town. I can tell you which direction the one-way streets run, and what roads get traffic at 5 o'clock.
Since as an Oregonian I have experienced college, church, graduate school, parenting groups, and employment opportunities, naturally almost all my friends live in Oregon. Although the distance of 70-miles (or more) will curtail spontaneous get-togethers, they'll still have reasons to drive to Portland (if only to visit Powell's), and driving to Portland is a mere 20 minutes for me. We won't be neighbors anymore, but hopefully we won't be strangers either.
Life on this side of the Columbia River feels...different. A lot is the same (same weather, same tv stations, same radio stations, same breakfast every morning), but there are still things to get used to. Sales tax, pumping my own gas, learning the fastest way to get somewhere, figuring out where the pretzels are at the grocery store, remembering I don't have the dial the area code before the phone number like you have to do in Salem: small changes that remind me I'm the new kid in town.
The old way of life was rich with blessings, but the new way will be amazing too. Already the blessings of living on the Family Farm are apparent. Sydney can play outside by herself. Jules can walk to Grandma and Grandpa's house and ask for candy (which she does, being ever the precocious one). There are cousins around to play with, old high school friends to connect with, a huge extended family to depend on.
Yesterday there was a deer in the front yard. Today I noticed the trees in the orchard are starting to blossom. And tonight when I walked outside I could see the stars that were never visible from our home in the city.
Six months of living everywhere and nowhere has made me grateful to finally be somewhere permanently. A year ago I was heartbroken about leaving Salem, but now? Now I'm ready. It's time to put down new roots right next to those old roots that I left behind years ago. There's no fanfare; I'm just declaring today the day to make the change.
And so I say, Goodbye Salem, Oregon--you were a town I grew to love more than I thought possible.
And now, Hello, Southwest Washington. Life is going to be good here.