Sunday, August 30, 2009
Every time I leave my grandmother, she cries. I'm used to it by now, the consistency hasn't budged since I was just a young kid. I remember watching her in the driveway of the house in Colorado, smiling and waving and blowing kisses while heavy tears streaked down her face. Watching her fade away until she was just a small speck in the distance, standing and watching us go for as long as she could, as if nothing was as valuable as that last glance.
At 19 I have recently packed up my belongings, put my little studio amount of furniture and knick-knacks into storage and flown one way to Portland, Oregon. A big part of why I did this was because of my grandmothers beckoning, my grandfathers support of alternative pathways. I was driven into the large industrial landscape, the huge steel bridges and light rain on concrete and brick. I couldnt see beyond a couple miles, something that im not used too, coming from the desert where you can see as far out as you want from almost any point on the terrain. I felt like I was going to cry, my body fell into full anxiety mode. I realized I had no idea what I was doing there, I was going to be sleeping in my friends attic bedroom, no job, no school, no relationships, no nothing. I just had two suitcases full of vintage dresses, a ukulele, and my laptop. My first couple of weeks have been full of making friends, riding bikes, drinking tea and beer, going to house shows and old photo booths. They've also been full of obsessively calling home, spending hours on facebook longing for some word from my friends back in New Mexico, crying in the attic, and sleeping through full days.
My grandmother caught wind of this and promptly bought me a ticket to visit her again. Staying at a new house in Port Townsend, Washington. Nothing is as comforting to me as these visits, the security of her presence, as though anything I need can be taken care of. Watching her lovingly look out at the docks and the bay and the mist in the forest. She tells me that the northwest makes her feel at home, the gray skies a warm blanket to sit under day after day. She walks me by the lighthouse and brings me to her favorite cafe for salmon scrambles with yams. She tells me about her days of living on military bases, dropping out of society and woodstock while her hands shake out the swiss chard she's so excited about making for dinner. Her age is starting to show more, the usual qualities of growing older; forgetfulness, pains in her hips and back. Both of my grandparents are relatively younger, closer in age to some of my friends older parents then my mother is. It's the first time i've considered the prospect of their retirement, their moving out of the southwest to a place more familiar, their settlement in Washington. It's the first time the prospect of them not being around when im 30, 40, 50 has hit me.
Im waiting out my 4 and a half hour layover in Seattle, watching two girls that must be ballerinas from Cornish College of the Arts use all the strength in their flimsy frames to carry a single suitcase. Im returning to Portland with a job interview, familiar faces, my 100 pound bicycle, and a better sense of finding my way. Remembering my grandmother's teary smiling face dampening my cheek as she tightly hugged me goodbye. Observing her standing in the Safeway parking lot, watching the bus rumble down the road until the fog had completely come between the two of us. As if that last glance was the most important moment in her whole world.