In which we find a new home

Six years ago I confirmed the rental of a glorious apartment on the top floor of a historic building in the middle of what I consider to be the best neighborhood in Portland.

The rental of this apartment was like a triumph, the culmination of a year’s worth of planning and searching for all the accouterments of a new life in a new city. When people came over they marveled at the original oak floors, the glass knobs on the doors and cabinets, the strange call box that looked like a rotary telephone. We stored our spices in what had been the built-in cold closet. The bathroom featured hexagonal tile floors and the bathtub was massive.

The realities of keeping a building like this going are not for the faint hearted. Historic building also meant historic plumbing, and it was not uncommon to see a sign in the foyer announcing water would be shut off from 10-4 while the plumbers fixed some problem or other. There were additional problems — those of insulation, drywall integrity and vermin infestation — that slowly presented themselves over the years. Problems were fixed quickly, but they were numerous. 

There was also the issue of space. A studio is fine for a person and her cat, but it’s less fine for a person and her cat and her partner, who post-graduate school had come to live full time. And even that wasn’t too bad — we’re fairly compact — but the inability to entertain or have guests of any kind was a bit wearisome.

My office was also the living room, which meant whenever anyone was around I was unable to get any work done, which can only go on for so long. 

A few weeks ago we packed up the entire household and moved down the road into what my Mom called a rooming house. Much different but probably much better suited to our lives right now. And it means we get a yard, a fire pit, a BBQ grill, a hammock, chickens, WINDOW BOXES (!), and all sorts of other little perks that come from having multiple people lending a hand. Help with dishes. Help with the washing of house laundry. A washer and dryer. AND a dishwasher. 

The best thing about it right now is the renewal of a lifelong habit of sitting outside in the mornings with a cup of coffee. To start every day outdoors listening to birds and drawing a few sleepy ideas is my idea of paradise. And now I have it every morning, just out the back door. 

Emotions and politics

“There are two answers to things they will teach you about your land: the real answer and the answer you give in school to pass”

I’ve been holding off on talking about our recent move — because how interesting is that to anyone but me, really — but also to do so seems so petty and selfish given recent events.

There is such an outpouring of emotions right now.

Fear and anguish over international situations.

Grief for death — both celebrity (Robin Williams, Lauren Bacall), and civilian (Mike Brown in Ferguson).

Anger for Mr. Brown’s death, and the deaths of so many others like him.

That was not what the most recent pictures I finished were about. The pictures I finished were more about a nastiness that flares up quickly, especially when we talk about something tangled up in a great deal of passion. The pictures were more about interaction between two individuals.

The anger expressed in Ferguson is not the weeping of one person. The anger in Ferguson is the weeping of grandmothers, aunts, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, grandfathers, uncles, wives, and mothers. The weeping of neighbors, grocers, barbers, mail carriers, house cleaners, mechanics, lawyers, doctors, computer hackers and gardeners.

It is the weeping of people stuffed into the bowels of a ship and ripped from their lives into generations of servitude. It is the weeping of people tortured and hung from trees. It is the weeping of people being treated as livestock. It is the weeping of the fights that have been fought and for the change that has not come. It is the weeping of generations of hurt, mistrust, assumptions, false accusations, judgements, and sideways glances.

It is the weeping of people who were told they were free but were never given the lives of free people.

We weep with you, Ferguson.

Or at least, I weep with you.

And many, many people like me weep with you.