Sometimes letters are confessions. And in that quiet space of a letter, also penance. I didn't commit a sin moving to Portland, but I have carried so much guilt.
Anna was a perfect confessor. When I'd first told her months ago that we were seriously thinking of moving West, her face wrapped around a tiny bit of anguish. "I hate it. But I love it. I'm so happy for you! This is terrible." Something like that. She was nearly equal parts sadness and friendly encouragement, and I'd needed both.
During those months leading up to our move, I'd held two feelings: excitement and mourning. At first, being sad/mad/bad about moving away from all our wonderful people was what I felt, and excitement was something I only knew about, an item on my big checklist. As we got closer to making our move, the sadness started to fade into my checklist, and I was able to feel excited. We were heading out to an adventure! To a big world! Everything would be new!
By the time I was writing to Anna, we'd lived here for nearly a month, unpacked everything, started working on a routine. And in that time I had come to understand something, and confessed it: Life is mostly the same everywhere. The days still require sleep and waking and coffee and cooking and eating and cleaning. It still takes a little extra effort to pull away from the couch and go do things.
It sounds so gloomy. And like we shouldn't have moved. That's not it.
It's just that ... it's truth. Life isn't made by a place (or a job or a mission, even). And I felt a little silly not to have put it all together until we got to Portland. I think that was the root of my confession. "I feel terrible that I didn't figure it out sooner."
But also, I'm glad it took me as long as it did, just long enough to get here. Because this is still a life-long dream. There are things about this place that are different. It's just that my life won't be made or broken by anything less than my commitment to live fully.
"I love it! I'm so happy for you."
On writing the letter itself: Pure joy when I opened a box of IKEA shelves and found two long pieces of newsprint used to protect the wood. And I'd bought four of those shelves! Now there's a thick roll of blank newsprint among my letter-writing supplies.
I think Anna would appreciate that I made myself real comfortable to write her letter—old house slippers and comfortable pants (frees the mind to focus on writing).
Long strips of letter folded carefully into this tidy, fat package.