What I learned in Oregon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
A brief essay about my experience living in Oregon.

Submitted: December 08, 2011

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Submitted: December 08, 2011




What I learned in Oregon


The first twenty two years of my life were spent primarily in Fort Collins, Colorado. I love everything about Colorado, but something in me has always longed for the Pacific Northwest. Nearly every summer, my dad would drive my sister and me out to Washington and Oregon for a couple weeks to visit his friend Peter and to see the sights during our break from school. During these trips, my mind would drift out of its normal comfortable position, and wild ideas would pop into my head left and right. I always felt like my creativity switch had been turned on. We have spent time in Seattle, Olympia, Port Angeles, Portland, Corvallis and many other places along the way. Something about that area had a lure that I couldn’t ignore. At the end of our vacation, heading home, there would always be a sadness that I couldn’t shake off. I felt as if I was leaving my home, but I wasn’t leaving my home I was actually going to my home. It never made any sense and always left me feeling confused. It wasn’t until later that I began to understand these feelings and eventually these feelings set my life into transition.

During my twenty first summer, I made a trip out to Oregon by myself. Our family friend, Ashlee, who is basically my sister, had been planning to move back to Fort Collins. I decided to fly out and ride back with her and her boyfriend in a week when they were planning on leaving. It would be a nice time for me to get away and be in the Pacific Northwest like I’ve always loved to do. Our plans didn’t pan out exactly the way we had imagined. Instead, I decided to stay in Oregon. Ashlee left and I couch camped on a new friend’s house for a couple of weeks. After that I headed up to Olympia, Washington to stay at our friend Peter’s house. Up until this point, I had never really felt comfortable adventuring alone. I had a hard time trusting my own opinion and felt pretty reliant on someone else to bounce information off of. I’m the kind of person who asks questions even when I know the answer, because I’m unsure of myself.

I learned so much that summer, about myself and also about what I was interested in doing. It wasn’t until the next summer, though, that I realized it wasn’t where I wanted to visit; it was where I wanted to live. After making the decision to move out to Oregon, it took about a month to set the plan into action. I have my dad to thank for this primarily; he helped me organize my situation, helped me put things into perspective and helped prepare my car and stuff for the journey.

I arrived in Oregon and had already set up a living situation with the friends I met the previous summer. I hadn’t seen the house in person, but I had seen pictures of it and to me it looked nice enough. When I got there I realized that it wasn’t nearly as nice as the pictures made it out to be. It was actually a house rented by the most notorious rental agency in town for crummy service. This was one of the many obstacles I encountered in my first year in Oregon. I didn’t have a car, a washer or dryer, or many friends that first year. I was very annoyed by the drunken college students and by the lack of good places to eat and bars in Corvallis. I did, after all, choose to move to a town with a population of 52,000, half of which is students who leave during the summer. At first I hated this transition. I went from the hustle and bustle of busy Fort Collins, to the quiet shady streets of Corvallis, Oregon. I was upset for a while, but eventually I got over it.

My situation didn’t immediately get better, in fact, immediately it got worse. I moved out of my basement apartment to a room that was as small as a regular sized bathroom. There was hardly enough room for a bed. The roommates I had been living with and I were unable to get along anymore, and the time during my moving out was stressful and messy. At first I was sad and felt uprooted, my only sense of security having been that house was now shattered. I got used to my small quarters and ended up spending a lot of time walking around town, getting used to the feel of the place. I didn’t notice it happening, but eventually Corvallis grew on me. No longer did the quiet streets bother me, instead when summer rolled around and the students left I rejoiced like the locals for some peace and quiet finally.

I spent the majority of my time in Oregon working at a natural foods co-op. This was another major good thing for me. I was surrounded by delicious, healthy, organic, local food. There was no excuse for me to eat anything junky. I didn’t own a car, enjoyed biking to work and really ended up getting into the culture. I ended up making a lot of friends at work who all were more wholesome and substantial than most of my friends in Fort Collins. I think that sometimes, staying somewhere too long can be dangerous for mental health. In my experience, I tend to feel stagnated and like my life needs a boost and a fresh perspective.

My whole time in Oregon was so influential on who I am now. I learned about recycling, reusing, the importance of eating local and keeping your dollar local and so much more. I feel like coming back to Colorado, it is a challenge to maintain this perspective in the face of adversity. The adversity is coming from within which makes it a little more challenging. I run the risk of falling back into old habits being back in my hometown. It is hard to keep up this new perspective and avoid frustration.

Like most of life, this is another challenge that I will be able to overcome with any luck. I miss my life in Oregon. I miss waking up at whatever time I pleased and deciding what I did or didn’t want to do that day based on my feelings and opinions. I enjoyed living a life driven at my own pace. Here in Fort Collins, around my family, life is so fast paced I have a hard time remember what’s going on or what day it is. All transitions are hard. All transitions have the potential to add character and also allow a person to trust themselves more. The most important thing is maintaining a positive attitude and this is something that I know I’m capable of.

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