June 4th, 2013 Comments

Lincoln, NEI just returned from a stroll around our new neighborhood. As I took in the sights, sounds, and sensations I felt a bit disoriented. Seriously, I’ve had over seven months to adjust to the idea that I don’t live in Portland anymore, but why do I feel like I’m living a dream – and living in SE Portland?

There is no HOA here – which has its positives and negatives. Every other house is different. Some look like they are raising livestock in the yard, others have adopted the food not lawns philosophy. There are small apartment buildings tucked into the mosaic of 100 year old estates and bungalows. Some have immaculate lawns, others have an eclectic mix of, um, stuff.

As I strolled around the neighborhood, most homes were filled with the blue flicker of their not so small TVs, doors open as they let the cool Summer breeze blow through their lives. I rounded a corner from the local C-store and heard melodious music filling the street.

It wasn’t a melody I recognized. It wasn’t rock, country, or pop – but it wasn’t ethnic music either. I’m not sure what I was listening to – but it was pleasant, clear, and it gently filled the summer night. Inside, I saw three or four people passing around a microphone as they sat on the floor making music.

Of course none of these sights and sounds would be tolerated in the suburbs. The suburbs are safe, quiet, and normal. There is nothing normal about living in the city – which is refreshing, and slightly scary. Especially with small kids.

I turned another corner, the parking strip was huge – unlike the normal three foot strip of grass between the sidewalk and street. On this street, the parking strip is 20 feet wide. Weird, I thought – there is nothing uniform here. Not even the city tries to impose uniform standards.

I looked down and noticed Nebraska plates on a car. I was jolted back to reality. I’m not in Portland? Oh yeah. I’m not in Portland.

Sure, there are farmer’s markets, food trucks, and a lot of bike riders. But this isn’t Portland – right? Trees – luscious and huge trees cover the streets and sidewalks. I haven’t seen trees like this since leaving Oregon several months ago. There are cool coffee shops, natural food co-ops, and eclectic shops selling niche items for the sake of art and not for the sake of capitalistic advancement.

Really? I’m not in Portland? Really. I’m not in Portland.

As I rounded the corner to complete my stroll, I heard the distinct hum of someone’s lawn mower. At 10pm, someone was mowing their grass – and small drops of rain began to fall out of the sky.

I’m not sure – but I feel as if I’ve traveled back in time. I don’t know if I’m eight years old living in the shadow of Mt Tabor, or if I’m 25 living near the re-emerging Hawthorne district. Just then, I see a firefly streak across a yard. Like a shooting star signaling something grand, I’m suddenly aware of my geography.

There are no fireflies in the Pacific NW – I’m clearly in Nebraska.

The past seven months have been amazing. We thought we were losing our house, so we left and have been living on the road. Now, unemployed – and homeless – we spent the next several months living with family and the generosity of friends. We sold most of our belongings – furniture, tools, and appliances. We sold our bed, our couches, our lawn mower – virtually everything. If it didn’t fit in a 14 foot box truck, we didn’t take it with us.

This journey of faith has been an amazing preparation for our arrival in Lincoln. We are living in a house half the size of our previous home. It’s not rural like we enjoyed in Rainier, our neighbors are close enough to hear and see – again, unlike our last house.

We have downsized, moved half-way across the country, and traded mountains and rivers for vast acres of cornfields and flatland. Amazingly, we are at peace. Great peace.

We feel rightsized, stress free, and home. We are home.

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  1. Angela Walter says:

    Once winter hits you will realize it isn’t Portland for sure! Glad you are where you are though. Lincoln has many good memories. College was a great experience and you will get to be part of many peoples lives working there!

    1. gwalter says:

      I’m even scared about the hot, humid Summer!

      Thanks for your affirmation Angela!

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