We drove out to the coast today, just needing to get out of town for a day. I spent most of the drive out reading Bleak House in the back seat. It’s the second time I’ve read it and though I’m only about 50 pages in, I’m already somewhat annoyed with one of the main characters–and I can’t remember if she gets more interesting!
It’s a cool, rainy day. This isn’t much of a surprise, since it’s February in the Pacific Northwest. The Man has lots of reading to get done for his class this weekend, so we’ve actually spent most of the day at a coffee shop here. Funny, we’d probably have done pretty much the same thing if we’d stayed in Portland. Yet the change of scenery makes it seem more interesting and less stressful in a way. It’s almost like we’re on vacation and there’s no itch to get home and do chores, or go grocery shopping, or make plans for later with friends.
As soon as we got out of the car, we could smell the ocean. It’s a smell I miss from my time living in the Other Portland. And Astoria definitely has a similar feel to that other small coastal city several thousand miles away on a different ocean. We’ve talked about moving to a small town for a few years after he graduates so that he can get a portion of his loans forgiven by working in a underserved community. Part of me thinks I could live in a place like Astoria for a few years, but I’m not sure if that’s realistic. Astoria is even smaller than Portland, Maine. It’s one thing to spend a day or two here feeling like I’m on vacation. It would be quite another to be here year round. Maybe if I were ever to become a full-time writer or had a job that I could telecommute for, but I think that I would find living in a small town like this quite challenging. I very much value the chance to be anonymous in a city, the ability to go somewhere and not run into everyone you know in the space of 10 minutes.
So, maybe living in Astoria–or any other small town–isn’t really in the cards. Maybe we’ll need to find an underserved community that’s close to a big city. Or maybe we’ll need to spend a few years not living together. Or maybe I’ll need to be flexible and look at it as an adventure.
The rain is relentless and comes in waves. Barely a drizzle one moment and pouring down hard the next. We probably won’t walk over to the house from The Goonie’s or the school from Kindergarten Cop on this visit. We’ve been there and done that before besides. I’m fortified with caffeine and starting to itch a bit to get back on the road soon. The Man recently found out that he needs glasses, especially when he drives at night, so I get to drive home. I’d rather drive while there’s still some day light left. But this coffee shop is warm and cozy and provides coloring books and colored pencils and mellow music.
But we’re not really on vacation. And we’re not really living here. Just visiting. And we need to go home and do the dishes at some point.