You may recall that our move here was fraught with many obstacles. I’ve seen multiple friends make similar moves before us, and still more have come after, and none of them have come even close to dealing with the level of bullshit that we encountered. It’s sort of the Scootee secret power–we can Worst Possible Outcome every scenario despite our best laid plans! You’re welcome friends, your move now looks easy by comparison! Since we’ve been in our house for a whole entire year now, things have settled down slightly. I have managed to stay employed, our house hasn’t been robbed yet, and Skeeter has been found every time he’s gotten lost–all positives! Zach was able to quit the airline he had worked at for over a third of his life because he got a local job, and I was feeling pleased with our fully-immersed west coast life (ok ok I still have a GA driver’s license, so we’ll call it “mostly-immersed”). Until, after about a month at his new gig, this happened. Yeah, everything sucks and people are terrible and capitalism is a shit system and basically I’m back to being in Panic Mode, not that I ever really access my other settings.
Overall though, and I don’t want to jinx it, things are pretty….good? I used to feel like I technically met all the specifications for Happiness but the promised outcome never materialized. Maybe I missed the “terms and conditions” checkbox or something when filling out the form? Or my popup blocker caught the CAPTCHA and I was just staring at the page waiting for something to happen that never would? I had amazingly talented, clever, beautiful friends and a dreamy job for a company that people would kill to work for. I had a cute house in an okay neighborhood and an entire extra living room I didn’t even use. I had love and laughter and even a few people to buy weed from. But my underlying feeling was one of bitterness and dissatisfaction–I didn’t like living there and it permeated everything I did and felt. I was always too hot, cockroaches and crickets outnumbered Waffle Houses, everything was always too far away, and since I grew up there but didn’t have any history beyond my own there was this awkward intimacy/unfamiliarity dichotomy that was always present. While I could always drive past my old preschool, I couldn’t go further back in time than that and it felt stifling. When I’m on the west coast, I feel like I’m surrounded by my grandparents’ stories, by my parents’ childhoods, and by shared memories that I don’t really have but can cobble together through snippets and stories and pictures. Every time I pass Mt Hood or see St Helens in the distance, it’s like I’m in the backseat of my grandparents’ peanut butter-colored Acura Integra (I told you they were cool) again, being chauffeured on another adventure. Pretty much every weekend for the past few months, Zach and I have taken off down the twisty roads to see some beautiful sight that I have wispy memories of. If I had a bag of puffy Cheetos and the Big River soundtrack (one of the few albums Nana and I agreed on) (ugh I just clicked my own link and now I’m crying, GREAT) it would be a near-exact recreation of one of our road trips to the beach or Flathead Lake.
Last weekend we settled on Round Lake, which is actually connected to Lacamas Lake, and shares a parking lot (or maybe we were lost, who’s really to say). I can’t remember if someone told us about it or if I just looked at the map and picked a lake (which is a thing you can do here!) to drive to, but it’s about 25 minutes from our house so fairly easy to access. I am not a hiker by any stretch of the imagination and would hesitate to even call myself a “walker”. I am mostly a clumsy tangle of chubby limbs loosely connected to a lumpy, rotund base, and occasionally I can propel myself forwards if I really concentrate on it. Hiking always seemed to be an idiotic hobby because you have to spend the whole time scanning the ground for pine cones and exposed roots, hoping you don’t get impaled on a stump or choked by mossy overgrowth. Why go somewhere beautiful just to stare at the ground if you’re lucky, or tumble down a ravine if you’re not? It turns out that if you go places with actual trails, in a region where it’s not always a balmy 300 degrees, and there are waterfalls everywhere, taking a slow amble through the forest isn’t painful at all. The dogs aren’t great at being out in public but the annoyances are worth how tired they are later. Or, okay, how tired I am later. They’re probably still annoying and I just don’t notice because I’m so pooped.
Round Lake has the potential to be a 6 mile hike according to one sign we saw, and my immediate reaction was a loud “NOPE”. Our SOP is to walk until I’m halfway to wanting to die (it’s tough to measure, usually I just start worrying about how I’ll eventually need to pee and will likely be stranded toiletless in the woods, and then like magic the need actually arises and we have to turn around!) or until Joey starts lagging behind. Sometimes I think she can tell I’m tired and puts on a fake limp for my benefit–dogs are very intuitive that way. It was a pretty short trek from the parking lot to a scenic waterfall that I absolutely could not capture with my dinky iPhone. We’ll probably come back here again since it’s so close and doesn’t require a trip into Portland–we only got about 1/4 of the way around the lake (if that, I’m a very generous estimator) so there’s likely a lot more to see. The path was easily navigable even in my thin-soled rain boots and there were many excellent dogs so I would rank this as one of the better parks we’ve visited.
So, it’s 2018 and sometimes I go outside on purpose to do things besides eat. Today is my one year jobiversary, and I like what I do and the people I work with. Things are hard sometimes and life is far from perfect. But now when I take the self-administered Happiness survey, even if I don’t check all the boxes (Loads of friends I can call up every time we have too much dinner? No, not really. But we have like 6 friends and they’re all really amazing! A job at a company that was just featured on the cover of a magazine? Well, no, but I didn’t really fit in there… A big mid-century house close to the DeKalb Farmer’s market? Not exactly, but sitting on the porch swing and being able to bike to the pot shop is actually a million times better!), the results bear the conclusion that I am, actually, really fucking happy.