Friday, September 29, 2017
It's been 11 mornings that I've opened my eyes in Eugene, Oregon.
It was rainy and dreary the first week, followed by sunny, warm days--so warm and so sunny that I wondered if that first week was just a fluke. But this morning began under cover of light grey clouds and drizzly rain...leading me to believe that this is a precursor for a unique winter.
It's only been 11 days, so I can't really sum up Eugene in a few sentences while I'm still processing it.
Things that have surprised me have been how very very liberal the culture is here...while I appreciate the laid-back attitude overall--every one is friendly--more friendly than Colorado Springs for sure--the amount of homeless people here is startling, unsettling and intimidating. I wouldn't want to raise a family here based on that alone. I'd bet that "The Walking Dead" got it's inspiration from the streets of Eugene. Homeless people are everywhere. I do mean, everywhere. It's legal to be homeless here, and it's like every homeless person within 500 miles got a ride here to live out their days.
My kids' high school is vying for the #1 position with another school here--it's got a strong reputation for excellence--is also crazy liberal. One of the teachers demanded another student remove his "Make America Great Again" t-shirt and turn it inside out, because it offended her. Same teacher stood in front of the class and apologized for her "white race". She asked Joseph what it feels like to be a "privileged white male" in society. Joseph asked another student for directions to a class, "Dude, do you know where this class is?"--to which the student responded, "Did you just assume my gender?" and refused to help Joseph. Crazy. Liberal.
Afterschool conversations begin with: "What's the wildest thing you saw today?" Yesterday, Ari answered that the school's most ardent dragqueen's shoes were on fleek and she may need to get to know him to borrow his shoes.
I don't know. Housing is stupid expensive. Twice as much money for half as much house that's old and dated. I'm wondering if I even want to buy a house here. We're renting a new apartment with onsite security...for almost the same $ as our house payment back home, plus a storage unit for all the things that don't fit.
Traffic, the constant dread I avoid at all costs at home, is a given here. Lots of people crammed into a small city equals constant traffic. As Ari says, it can feel suffocating with all the people, all the traffic, and all the massive trees hovering overhead. AND, I never know which direction I'm headed--my beloved Pikes Peak is nowhere to be seen. East, West, North, South are all just words to me now. GPS is my security device. I can not go into town without my personal mapquest coach's voice, "Turn Right in 500 feet. Stay in the left lane. Stay in the left lane. Now--turn NOW, woman!--for cryin' outloud, you missed it! Hang on, Recalculating. Recalculating. Turn around when possible. Change drivers at the next stop."
On the plus side--(always looking for that silver lining!)--Kent likes his new job. Joseph decided to serve a mission after high school and I'm grateful for both of those things.
Is this what I thought it would be? No. Is it gosh-awful? No. It's different, just as one would expect of a great adventure...so we'll keep looking for the good...tucked into the sweet corners of Eugene like a $5 bill into last years' sweater pocket. Always a welcome surprise, just when you need it.