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A bit of history.

June 21, 2006

When I was a little girl, I was bewildered by the random specificities that provided a "reality" to my existence.  It seemed remarkably absurd that I should be a girl, for example, or that I should be born in small-town Kentucky rather than somewhere else to other parents.  In fact I thought it was rather amazing that I was born at all, and that it was extremely weird and strange to be separate from the rest of the universe – that a perspective was emanating from my little head that didn't necessarily link with anything else.  I loved this randomness and thought I was very lucky indeed to be born me.  I knew that not everyone else had such a good chance, at least as a human being.

Likewise, it was by a random stroke of luck that I was plucked from Hopkinsville, a factory town in Western Kentucky,  and replanted in Portland in the summer of 1987.  My mother wanted to move to a city outside the South so that her two children would 1) hopefully not be racists and 2) see a little more of what the world can offer than small town life.  It's more complicated than that of course….but those are my mother's stories, not mine.  In any case, Portland chose us rather than the other way around.  As I think of it, even if the work opportunity that arose for my mom didn't come through, Portland would have been the clear choice. Maybe I feel this way because I can't imagine us surviving in Phoenix, Seattle, Denver, or any other city.  Cali was an automatic no, as was the east coast and Seattle ("too wet"). 

We drove in the biggest UHaul one could get, with the 1977 Chevrolet Malibu Classic hitched in back.  This to me seemed like a precarious arrangement, but it worked.  I was not quite 10 years old at the time, so time seemed to last forever.  I believed quite earnestly that we would never get there, and that our whole lives would be one long drive.  It did take us 8 days to get here.  2282 miles exactly.  We came through Oregon on I-84 in early July, and instead of stopping at the Motel 6 in Troutdale as planned, we took the highway straight to the Willamette river, where the highway splices into I-5.  All three of us instantly felt a sense of ownership and belonging:  this was our new home.

The next morning we pulled into our apartment complex on Sandy Blvd. and hired a few guys for $20 each to drag our furniture into our little townhouse.  I was wearing my clover green girl scout slacks (yes, by choice).  I remember this because a little neighbor girl came up to me and bit my butt without any pre-signal, and the incredulous shock tattooed itself in my mind.  I can still see the wet little half moons from her bite on the back of my pants.  Welcome to Portland!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. M. J. W. permalink
    June 21, 2006 11:55 pm

    She bit yer butt! That is halarious.

    You know, my family moved to Colorado when I was 12 from a small, dusty, oil busted, Oklahoma town in 1984 and I remember having similar thoughts as you about my little girl existance. Lucky to be me – why wasn’t I born in India (always India for me!) – why this family and this dog and my blue eyes and freckles. Even wonderings about “why do I get to be sitting here making this mud pie?”

  2. June 22, 2006 9:08 pm

    i chiefly recall thinking more about death than why I was born.

    When I was in 1st grade in Ballard I remember finding a bullet on the street. I knew that guns shot bullets but I didn’t know how they worked so I took a big rock, put the bullet down in front of me on the sidewalk and started smashing it to see what was inside…

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