by Rubin the Doodle
Ok, it’s not that easy, but it’s definitely a different pace than the city.
The adjustment was exhausting in many ways. I thought we were on vacation and had rented a house in Port Townsend for a few weeks. Vacation mode for me isn’t about relaxing. It’s about getting out and doing things, so every time we walked in the woods or walked along the beach or even did normal things like cooking a meal, I was on alert. I watched closely to see what was next for our vacation. And I made certain I was NEVER left behind because being left behind while at “home” is not the same as being left behind on “vacation.”
Oscar, on the other hand, transitioned like a champ. He does this wherever we go, assuming that he owns the vacation home or the friends’ house where we are staying. In his mind, every place we’ve ever stayed belongs to him/us and therefore, he has many homes in many different locations. The latest one here in Port Townsend was just a lovely addition to Uncle Paul’s house in Oregon or Grandma’s house on the Kitsap Peninsula or the beach house at Manzanita that our friend lets us stay in while at the ocean. I could go on and on here, but you get the picture: Oscar walks through the door and he is instantly at home. He finds the best spot to nap, the best window to watch and bark at the world, and assumes the “relaxed-I’m-home” position.
Now that we’ve been here for 5 months, the house now feels like home. Granted, our travel has been limited. We no longer drive to Oregon to visit Uncle Paul and Aunt Patti. We can’t vacation at the coast and while we see Grandma on occasion, we don’t go inside and we don’t spend the night at Albert and Jan’s house, much to our misery.
The pandemic has had an impact on all of us, but the humans aren’t weathering it as well as we are. They are still attempting to work — masked, social distanced, and limited clientele — but now working involves long trips to Seattle and back (for them) and single-parents for us as they are working opposite schedules and one stays home with us, while the other goes to work in the city.
Meanwhile, we stay here and here, I might add, is lovely. Our house needs a lot of work, according to our moms, with a new roof, inside house painting, and the acquisition of furniture and rugs on a delayed schedule – it’s all gonna happen, but not right away. So we live in a house with a baby blue living room (my moms hate it, but have learned to accept it), a kitchen that needs a bunch of work, and a moving blanket as our living room rug.
Here. A word I’ve never really thought about deeply before, but here has been on my mind a lot of late. I was born in a small town in Oregon and the only here I’ve really remembered was my home in Seattle. I spent 13 years there and while we visited other places, going back to that here was everything I needed. When we first moved to our new home, I was, as I said earlier, convinced we were on vacation. I kept waiting to go back to my here but as the weeks passed, it never happened.
Then one day, back to the Seattle here we went. I was thrilled. I trotted and smiled and pranced through the house excited to finally get some rest, only none of our stuff was there. I went into the backyard, which was the same, and rolled around in the grass because when I’m in my usual here that’s what I do. But as I rolled and smiled, I realized that here was no longer my reality. Here was the last time I’d be here and so I said my goodbyes — peed on my favorite spot one more time, smelled every corner of the yard and the house, and then, as we packed up to go and left our house keys on the counter, I waved my feather tail in the direction of a place I would from now on consider there.
There was a good place too, but the more I’m here, the more thankful I am that we’ve moved our sense of here to HERE. I’m an older man now. The hectic city life is behind me and the slow pace of the small town is before me. We take long walks to the beach or through the woods; we explore new places with incredible smells (is that deer? rabbit? cougar?); we take long naps on the warm sunny deck and bark at squirrels that race across the top of our fence (we did that in Seattle too, but here the squirrels are brown and fast as bullets so it’s a bit more exhilarating!).
We visit our dear friend, Martha and her silly little dog Manny (Oscar’s best friend…aside from me) — Martha is our COVID buddy since we hung out with her before the lockdown, so we still see her for walks and such. Our other COVID friends are Ari and Carrie, who bring over cards and the adults play silly games on the patio while we lie under the table and listen to their conversations. But it will be nice, when the pandemic is over, to see more folks — like grandma, and Jan and Albert, and all the friends here in the small town who we have yet to see.
And new friends…oh the joy of one day making new friends.
But the pandemic is far from over and right now, all we have is here so we are doing our best to enjoy it, to stay safe and healthy, and to appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. We hope you can all do the same.
Be here. Be now. Be well.