The West Coast Girl Finds Her Way

keepsakes

A little over a year ago, I started to get an undeniable West Coast itch.

I visited a dear friend of mine in San Diego for a long weekend. I hadn’t been back to California in many years.

After I landed we had lunch and Bloody Mary’s right on the beach, where the smell of salty fish greeted my nose like a long, lost friend. Then it was off to a different beach, a stunner at that.

It’s nearly impossible for me to explain what happens when one approaches the Pacific Ocean, but damnit I’ll try.

We parked the car on a residential street on top of a hill. I stepped out of the car, plucked my bathing suit out of my crack, then I stopped and stared.

There it was. Glistening in the distance, purposely drawing me into its majesty.

The sight left me speechless. So speechless that my friends thought I was insanely jet-lagged, when really I was just awestruck.

I hovered in a meditative state. My toes wiggled around the warm surface of the sand and my fingers dug deeper to feel the cool layer hiding beneath.

It was home. And after that day, it stayed with me forever.

But, this isn’t about finding my way back to California. This is about a finding a new way, a very different West Coast locale. One where neither of us has ever lived, one where neither of us has any family.

A place that is green inside and out. A place that is kooky with drool-worthy food. A place that’s got something casually awesome about it.

Portland, Oregon. 

At the end of next week Mr H. and I and our two pissed off cats will be traipsing across the country on a 30-hour drive.

Why? Because it was absolutely the right time for us to do it.

We visited Portland several years ago, and we have never been to any place in the world more beautiful.

Yes, it rains…a lot. But that rain brings a magical brightness to everything it touches, turning the world every exquisite shade of green imaginable.

Uprooting our lives can be seen as something to fear, a perilous force writhing with anxiety, stress, and discomfort.

The lengthy drive with two cats will be the ninth circle of Hell. The cozy routine will vanish from our lives. The faces and places we have come to know intimately will fade. The unknown will be downright scary at times.

Yet, we are choosing to embrace this turbulent change for the sake of growth and inspiration. All of the new—the land, the culture, the people—will only feed our creativity and make us stronger.

Besides, my home is wherever my husband is. And together, we can do anything.

35 thoughts on “The West Coast Girl Finds Her Way

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Moving is stressful, but it’s also incredibly liberating, a chance for a do-over so to speak. Glad you’re embracing the adventure side of it. I wish you well with the process. I bet you’ll fit into Portland beautifully. I hear it’s a wonderful city.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Agreed. It’s a very mixed bag of emotions from day to day currently. I think Portland will be great for us. It’s where North (my husband) and West (moi) geographically meet up!

  2. Letizia says:

    Home is where the heart is (and the cats are, and Ken the cow is, and the books are, and the yoga pants are….). Have a wonderful journey – what an exciting adventure!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Just packed up my books, except for Kindle, but Ken will be the last one on the truck. Oh, who am I kidding! He’ll be in my lap, serenaded by the horrible meow symphony blasting us from the backseat. : )

  3. Alarna Rose Gray says:

    This sounds wonderful. I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Portland, lately. I’d love to visit there. Maybe even move there, or somewhere (ahem, yes, ‘where neither of us has any family’…) 😉 What an adventure! I’m sure your cats will forgive you, eventually 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      My best friend lives there, so we visited her a few years back. It is AMAZING! Seriously, just beautiful and cool all around.

      Yes, I’m hoping the cats’ small brains will work in our favor with the whole forgive and forget thing.

  4. Pamela says:

    I am so happy for you!! I SOOOOO homesick for California and I read your posts with a sort of familiar ache. My husband and I want to end up in Oregon too. I am partial to the coasts- Bend and Bandon – but I think we both might just fall in love with Portland. It’s a few years away but I hope to see you there!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Yes, it’s funny to be away from Cali for almost 13 years and now be heading back that direction. You guys should totally do it! We’ll have to get together for a coffee or adult beverage. : )

      • diannegray says:

        I did the ‘big drive’ with the two dogs about 15 months ago when we moved up here. They were great for most of the way until we hit the monsoon weather and we couldn’t stop the car to let them out to go to the toilet and one of them got diarrhea 😦

      • Britt Skrabanek says:

        Um, that’s a bummer. We didn’t have any poop stories on the way up here from Texas and I’m hoping we luck out again. I was doing some research and read that when cats get pissed off, they clench. Well, kitties…clench away! : )

  5. Sheila says:

    It sounds like a great adventure with all kinds of new discoveries to be made. I can’t wait to hear all about it – starting with the two-cat car ride! 🙂

  6. Stan R. Mitchell says:

    Even a week later, I’m still so excited for you!!! (And honestly, with my huge life transition, I’m tempted to do something just as crazy awesome myself!)

    Have either of you lined up jobs yet? (I always wondered how one interviews and all with a location so far away…)

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Yippee!!! Yeah, it seems like huge life transitions and cross-country moves go hand-in-hand for me. So, here we go again!

      I’ll be a bit vague with my answer for present employment sensitivity’s sake. Out of state jobs can be tricky. Working connections, Indeed, and LinkedIn seem to be the best bet. Then, there is always the “get up and go” mentality. Save up some bucks and get your butt out there and figure it out.

      • Stan R. Mitchell says:

        Yikes. Sorry. Wasn’t thinking about the sensitivity issue. I regret even asking now, and since I’ve read your answer, why don’t you delete my question, your reply, and this reply? (Just to be safe… Thanks! Oh, and I’m still jsut so happy for you!)

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Neato! Excited to breathe some new life into my writing with some Portland awesomeness.

      No worries about roaming cats. We’ve done this before and didn’t risk it then either. They’ll be cooped up and pissy the whole way. Well…hopefully not pissy in the literal sense.

  7. Tom Gething says:

    My wife and I did that trip, from Chicago to Seattle, a long time ago with an angry cat who sat most of the time precariously balanced on top of my headrest with her claws dug in, growling. You’ll love Portland (over Milwaukee). Welcome to the great Pacific Northwest!

  8. 4amWriter says:

    Very exciting, Britt. I haven’t been to Portland, but my husband’s sisters and their families live near L.A., so I’ve done the California thing. As an East Coast girl, born and bred, California (at least, the LA portion) was like a different world to me. I did like it, but I don’t think I could ever fit in.

    A lot of people love Portland, rain and all, and I am sure you will have a great time. I need my sun, at least one shot a day, and so I wouldn’t last out there. I hope you’ll post lots of great pictures so we get to see you in your new life!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      West Coast and East Coast are total opposites. But, California, especially LA, is its own little world. Bet you would love Portland, since the nature’s so awesome. And we’ll just traipse down to California if we need a sun shot. : )

  9. Naomi Baltuck says:

    Hi Britt,

    If I couldn’t live in Seattle, I would move to Portland. It’s a great city full of creative energy. I am originally from Michigan, but fell in love with Seattle and the Pacific Northwest at first sight. Good luck with your move, and a safe journey to you.
    Warmly,
    Naomi

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Hey, Naomi. I’ve never been to Seattle, but I’ve heard awesome things about it. Now I can explore the city whenever I want, though I’m sure Portland will keep me entertained. Very excited!

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