It was time for a change, a new adventure, when Noelle and I loaded the car and left CT in early December heading west from the banks of Long Island Sound to the west coast, a 3,200 mile journey. We had spent the summer reflecting on our future. With Wyatt and Cooper each off to their own lives, Cooper in Williamsburg Brooklyn and Wyatt in Dallas, we knew it was time for change. We put our Weston, CT home on the market in early September assuming it would take many months to sell. Just three days later we were shocked when we received two solid offers on the same day. We set a closing date in early December hoping to be on the road in time to escape winter but our heads were spinning - where would we go?.
We had talked about moving but hadn't really decided where to go. Our key criteria for a new place to settle became an interesting city in a "blue" state near a coast without Northeastern weather extremes and the NYC metroplex cost of living. We didn't want the heat and humidity of the southern coast and it didn't take long to conclude that no city / state combination on the eastern seaboard met the test so we decided to make a reconnaissance trip to the west coast. We love parts of the central and southern California coast having met and married in Santa Barbara, but between the exorbitant cost of living up and down the California coast and the extreme drought we decided to look up the coast even further setting our sights on Oregon and Washington in the Pacific Northwest. We started with a flight into Portland and a return flight from Seattle in mid-October so we could touch both cities. We both love Seattle and Puget Sound, each having spent a year there before we met, but Seattle has a traffic pattern that we just can't warm up to, so Portland won! As someone I met recently said, Portland is a city where you are never further than 20 minutes from anything.
Our second reconnaissance trip was to Portland in early November. Having scouted neighborhoods there on our October trip we had already decided to look for a house in either the Northeast or Northwest section of town. It was then that we realized that we weren't alone in recognizing the attractive features of Portland. The current Portland real estate market is clearly a sellers market with lots of multi-bid sales. The average home in the older neighborhoods of Portland is close to 2,400 square feet, dominated by Craftsman cottages from the 1920s. However, we knew we needed something a little bigger to start so as not to need a commercial storage space and / or to avoid selling or donating too much furniture in CT before the move. We wanted to take our time to determine where we want to settle longer term in Portland and hopefully avoid having to run out and buy furniture. We were very lucky to find a nice size home in the Alberta Arts section in the Northeast quadrant of Portland that we could rent for 16 months to give us time to acclimate and decide on whether or not we would like to purchase it or another home going forward.
In spite of our resolve to make the change, the act of packing up our home of 17 years, out of the 21 spent in Weston, was a traumatic experience full of laughter, tears and lots of reflection. It was very hard to say good bye no matter how excited we were to move on. Noelle and I made sure that we had a family weekend with together with Wyatt and Cooper in late October to say our last good byes to our home as well as to the towns of Weston, Westport and even Fairfield. We had amazing times in CT as well as on Shelter Island across Long Island Sound at the eastern tip of Long Island. We had said our good byes to Shelter Island two years ago when we sold that house.
It was after that weekend that sorting and packing began in earnest with "archaeological digs" in the various parts of the attic, the finished and unfinished parts of the basement and even some nooks and crannies of our main living spaces. In the end we were overwhelmed, embarrassed, nearly speechless when we fully realized what we had "consumed" over the last two decades. If there was one thing we continued to reflect on as we drove west it was our rampant consumerism. We asked ourselves over and over how we came to accumulate so much stuff in 20+ years, who were we competing with? Even after we made myriad trips to St John's Episcopal Church in Bridgeport, Goodwill in Westport, listed many items on Craigslist, and wore out the road between the Weston landfill and our house we still filled the largest moving van that North American Van Lines had which has taken us weeks to unpack and sort through. In the end we have stored a lot of in the basement here but have start getting to know places in Portland that accept donations of clothes and other assorted items that we could have easily left behind.
We arrived on December 10th, moved in December 11th and then within days jumped back in the car to spend the holidays with my 93 year old mother in central California. Wyatt and Cooper and their girlfriends, Celia and Siena, all flew in and joined us for part of the time we spent with my Mom and her husband Del who she married at the age of 88 when he was 91. At 93 and 96 they still live independently in Morro Bay but maintain the house overlooking the Salinas River where she and my father lived in Atascadero before he died in 1994. It was a wonderful visit. Noelle and I finally headed back to Portland to be home by New Years Eve after dropping Wyatt, Cooper, Celia and Siena at LAX.
The good news is we are finally settled in here in Portland having finished the unpacking, arranging and rearranging. The networking has begun and we are enjoying Portland with its great location and unique culture, fabulous food, not to mention an incredibly mild winter.
My one regret was not being able to finish the school year at the School of Visual Arts in the MFA in Design for Social Innovation program. I truly enjoyed the 3 semesters I had teaching 2 amazing cohorts of students. I am pleased to say that I am maintaining the relationship with the program as Faculty @ Large at a distance.
It has been too long since I posted to my blog, not since late last June after a special evening at the Salvage Supper Club in Williamsburg with Josh Treuhaft, my former student at School of Visual Arts, who has been instrumental in some key introductions here in Portland. I am going to post more about our adventure as it continues to unfold. Stay tuned. Posts should be a lot more frequent now. This post can be considered our New Year / holiday card to those of you on that list.