Sunday, July 12, 2009


The Waypost feels both open and cozy on an uncharacteristically gray July day. They're serving Stumptown's Panama Carmen Estate, subtle and delicious enough to drink black. The barista is taking it easy, sweeping, chatting. Low-key cello music and the hiss of espresso steam. This is what it's like here all winter, a good reminder of what I've left behind. One of the guys playing guitar outside is in buffalo plaid, the other is someone I played with in the Extreme Guitar Orchestra a few years ago. (I think his band is Sexton Blake?) It feels familiar, comfortable, brooding and gentle, productive and slackerish. It feels like my life again.

Trying to unpack that statement only leads me down a thorny path of how much "life" is the narrative you make it.

This morning I pined for the brilliant blue skies and river-ready sunshine Portland summers overcorrect with, but bunkered down here now I appreciate the introspective cloud cover. A gray blanket pulled over our heads. Good for closer reading and writing, taking stock, figuring out where the narrative is headed and what this twist is really about--as I pester my students, not just about, but about.

The word nostalgia comes from the ancient Greek nóstos (a return home) + álgos (suffering, pain). A suffering to return home. When I returned to Portland last month, the first week back was nearly unbearably good and painful. I ached, peculiarly, for the place I was already in. For leaving it, for returning home to it, with the knowledge I'd leave it again at summer's end. I think most of us tend to think of nostalgia as a softer twinge, sentimental, golden and hazy, but this was a sharp and difficult feeling, true to the root.

M. Ward "To Go Home"
("I'll be true to you forever or until I go home")

1 comment:

qazse said...

Wonderful post and photo. I loved your description of the Waypost. I was there and smiling.

"A gray blanket pulled over our heads. Good for closer reading and writing...", very nice.