If this current living-on-the-road journey of mine were a life, I’d say that its midlife crisis happened in Portland.
Don’t get me wrong – I love Portland. I had a beautiful stretch of time there, and the blur of hours I spent wandering Powell’s over the course of three days were very treasured hours.
My first night in the city, I woke up at 2:56am to a knock on the window – a first for this current season of car living, which I think is pretty remarkable, considering. Of course for it to never happen would be preferable, but I was grateful to the kind security guard who, after I poked my sleepy head out the door, decided not to kick me out after all. I didn’t sleep the rest of the night though, and the following night, after being turned away from three Wal-Mart’s (thanks to a meth lab that someone set up in an RV in one of the city’s Wal-Mart parking lots a year ago,) a grocery store, and a gas station, I set up in a residential neighborhood where drunk bodies periodically fell into my car, sending it lurching toward the car parked very closely in front of me and making for an equally sleepless night.
So perhaps it was simply a lack of sleep.
After all, I value sleep very highly and if I’m not sleeping well, I’m not thriving.
Or perhaps it was the drastic, abrupt transition from hot, sunny-every-day desert to the wet, chilly, cloudy-and-rainy-every-day Pacific Northwest.
Maybe it was the fact that I’m asked a lot about my plans for after, that huge, gaping, vacant space that lies in the fuzzy space of my future, which, to my sleepy brain, highlighted what a huge, gaping, vacant, fuzzy space it is… which is exciting, because the fact that it is fuzzy and unknown means that the possibilities are, quite literally, endless, and endless, not-boxed-in possibilities are my favorite, but was also, to my sleep-deprived heart, a little terrifying and anxiety inducing. (Please excuse the run-on chaos of that sentence.)
Perhaps it was the fact that it was Portland where I realized I’d just driven 12,000 miles without getting an oil change.
Maybe it was the fact that all of those things highlighted my absolute, isolated alone-ness in the middle of a 3.797-million-square-miled country.
Honestly, I have no idea why my journey had a mid-life crisis or why it happened in Portland, but it’s good that it happened A) because that got it out of the way and B) because if a midlife… or midjourney… crisis is going to happen, Portland is a great place for it. The heavy-clouded, rain-shrouded landscape is conducive to crisis’ of every variety, I would think – it just doesn’t really make sense to have a crisis in 80-degree sunshine.
So there’s that going for it. And also, all it takes for the crisis to be instantly flipped on its head – or at least, all it took in my journey’s crisis’ case – is to head to the wilds and get lost (not literally) in the verdant, lush, overflowing-with-an-absolute-abundance-of-life untouched landscape of the Pacific Northwest. It’s heart-healing and dream-fueling and anxiety-comforting, and helps one remember that unknowns are one of the favorite aspects of one’s life, that the kindness of strangers surpasses the occasional lack of it by an unfathomably large vastness, and that there is so much more beauty than anything else.
Thank you, Portland, for the growing and the stretching and the beauty.