Hello friends. It’s been awhile since I’ve had one of these “life status” blog posts. Now is a good time as ever, as it’s been a year since I began my move away from working at the hostel (switching to part-time in August 2018, then quitting in November) to working for myself.
It’s been a good year, an interesting year, a tough year. Emee and I are happy together, two years into our relationship. In March I moved in with her, to her North Tabor digs. It’s something that we both had been wanting (as I like to share my home with the one I love). But the timing was forced. My roommate at the house in Woodlawn bought the house from the former owner. Now this was all in the works for quite some time, but things got...sour at the end. I ended up moving out in a rush, sooner than expected. As it is, I’m just really getting into the groove at the new place, setting up my office and all that.
But a chapter of my life is over. I lived at that house in Woodlawn for five years. There were some good moments there, at least I tell myself that now to justify the stay. But looking back, those five years there contained a few of the darkest years of my life. It’s going to be hard to separate the existential dread I felt while living there from the house itself.* Plus, the living situation was always weird. I tolerated it for so long because it was cheap, and I was broke. Portland had changed, no longer was it a city of easy and inexpensive crash pads for bohemians like myself.
That meant I spent too long living in a place that I tolerated but never really liked. I guess it was better than the alternative. But once a year turned into two, then three, etc. it got harder and harder to move out. Then I hit a turning point in 2018, spending less and less time at the house and more and more at Emee’s. The last couple months I was there (Jan-Feb 2019) I’d only spend a token night or two there a week, almost to prove that I still live here. It didn’t help that the few times during the final months at the Woodlawn house became increasingly more depressing. It reminded me of those darkest moments, ones I was trying hard to escape. Now I am glad that I have moved on.
So now I’m in a new era: no longer working at a job that I could barely tolerate, no longer living with people I’d rather not. It’s been good. But I still feel a bit stuck. I’m still working towards “being a professional artist”. I’ve got the time, but not always the motivation. For paying work, I’ve mostly been doing stuff for Emee’s event planning business, which has been good, as I’m learning new things while getting to use other skills (like blogging!) that I hadn’t used in a professional context. But I do need to work more on my own things, whether art or writing. I still have a boatload of ideas, it’s just the discipline that I lack.
As for biking, since both Emee’s work and my work can be done from home, I’ve become quite the homebody the past few months. I haven’t been riding that much. I don’t have that daily need to ride like when I commuted. I hadn’t always appreciated the twelve mile round-trip commute to the hostel when I lived in Woodlawn. Now I feel like I need that again! While the bicycle is still my primary means of transportation, I’ve never been the “go for a bike ride the first thing in the morning” type of person. I wish I could, though. I need to motivate myself more when it comes to bicycling, whether around town, longer rides, or tours.
Speaking of which: No, I haven’t done as much touring as I thought I would. I had hoped that self-employment would mean I could do something I hadn’t done in years, like a two week (or more) tour. But that is not in the cards for 2019. While touring isn’t necessarily expensive, I am pretty broke and stressing about cash. This is not the best mind frame to be in for a tour. Plus, I feel like I have a bit of a mental block, an apprehension when it comes to longer tours. This wasn’t how it used to be. I need to get over this hang-up. But I also need to get my own life in order first.
There will still be small tours and camping, though. The May tour in Central Oregon was a nice taste, even though it definitely didn’t turn out as planned. The July tour in the San Juan Islands was also nice, but it wasn’t as much about the riding and camping. For the near future I hope to do some more stuff around the Columbia Gorge and Gifford Pinchot National Forest. I have plans of doing more stuff around Central Oregon and the Cascades in September. I’m also hoping to squeeze in a Three Speed Tour down the Willamette Valley at some point.
And yes, I hope to do a nice longer tour at some point, somewhere. While there’s definitely a romantic notion to become a bike nomad a la Gypsy By Trade, I realized after spending four months on the road in 2011 that it isn’t the life for me. I need a home base. After eighteen years in Portland, I still love this place and want to spend more of my life here. Yes, there are problems and it’s no longer the cheap crash-pad for young Bohemians like it was in 2001. Life goes on, and I must adapt.
In any case, I’m still moving down that road to doing what I love for a living. It’s a slow start, but I’m still going to take the chance.
*In preparation for writing this post, I came across a draft from February that talked about leaving the house. This was written before the souring and hasty departure. It definitely put a more positive spin on the situation. But now after almost a half-year away I can say that no, it wasn’t that great. It’s amazing how a little time and distance can change one’s perceptions.