Allyson and I returned from our snowy Bend, Oregon trip to find the Oregon Coast not nearly so powdery white, but pretty chilly. Of course, it’s all relative—cold on the coast is in the 30s. Most of our friends in other climates have been dealing with much colder temperatures. But, this is the closest winter feeling we’ve gotten, and when you have that feeling you can’t help but have your perspective change along with it. We’ve bundled up a little more this week, avoided the drafty windows, and in the midst of this I’ve had winter memories come flooding in. Seasons get into your memory and make you feel things you might forget are there. You see sights, smell smells, hear the sounds of that time of the year through different times in your life.
We found out on Monday that the doctor is 90% sure our child will be girl. Since we started these visits each month, it becomes a little more real that there is a person growing inside of Allyson. Each time we receive some new part of the story. The first one was this blobby verification that there was a fetus in there. The next ultrasound, we could see our child’s arms and legs moving like a person moves. This time the doctor felt pretty sure we were looking at a girl.
I spent a lot of time that day thinking about having that piece of knowledge. How this a step we’ll be taking throughout our lives of getting to know this thing we created a little bit better. Helping her figure out who she is and who she wants to be. I don’t know this person very well at this point. I know that she’s been moving around a lot each time we’ve seen her. I know that she’s made from Allyson and me. I wonder if that movement is a manifestation of my own general restlessness. I want to avoid trying to put my own stuff on my child, but I can’t help but wonder if she’s rolling around, kicking and reaching out because she’s eager to move and go somewhere. I wonder if we will share this passion for movement, for striking out and exploring new things.
I went for a run on the beach Monday night just after work. The full moon had just risen over the coastal mountains, and it was bright enough that cast a shadow. The tide was low, so I had probably 30-40 yards of beach. The stars twinkled along with the lights from Rockaway and Manzanita. It felt so pristine out there running under the full moon, the dark night lit up enough that I had no trouble seeing. I thought about my daughter a lot, and I felt some extra energy as I thought of all the places I wanted to take her, the ways I wanted to help her grow strong and capable of following her passions. The setting was mysterious, but I felt this thrill and this power to be running into it.
I reached my turn-around point at the Rockaway city center, and I stopped to stretch and take in the night sky. There, yards away, the ocean charged in and retreated back and forth. I strode out to the Pacific water and let the tide finish its journey, washing over my feet and ankles. I could not feel the cold. My blood was warm. I was full of thoughts, full of motivation, full of life. The other nights of the week, I would work late in the office. When I’d leave it would feel too cold or wet, and I would elect to skip out. My perspective had shifted, and I could not talk myself into going back out. But, that Monday was powerful. the moon was powerful. The ocean, powerful. Thoughts of my daughter, powerful. I was powerful for that evening.
On Saturday, we held the Camp Magruder Christmas party. It has been a trying year for the camp and our staff, both professionally and personally. We’ve all experienced some great loses and battled some personal demons. Getting together in the camp dining hall with a roaring fire, Christmas music, and tasty food from our chef, Jay, it felt like we had made it. In the most difficult times of the summer, I wondered what we would be like by the time we made it to that day. I wondered sometimes if the day would ever get here. As we ate, played games, exchanged gifts, I felt so grateful just to be able to sit together with no other immediate responsibilities. It was great to just be able to focus on appreciating each other. In other days, I could hardly find time to take moments like this. But, in that time, I could feel so many other times I had shared good company, and it was so satisfying to feel it with this group.
Sunday, Allyson and I spent our last day at our home on the Oregon Coast before going back to our family in Kentucky and Tennessee for the holidays. Allyson had done a great job of packing and preparing us to leave during the days before so we wouldn’t have to rush. This afforded us a chance to just get out and enjoy a chilly, but pretty day. We went to the Bayocean peninsula. It is a little strip of land that separates the Tillamook Bay from the ocean. In the early 1900s the area was developed as a resort, billing itself as the Atlantic City of the West. in the second half of the century the construction of a jetty on one side of the bay caused the ocean to morph and the landscape and all the buildings started falling into the ocean. Now, there is hardly a trace that any development was ever there. It is wild to think that this place was once visited by wealthy, well-to-do Oregonians from the valley who took the train in to Bay City then the ferry across the bay. We walked the dunes covered in sea grass, low bushes, shore pines, and Sitka Spruce. But, at one time there were bowling alleys, elaborate dance halls, and fancy indoor pools. I am fascinated with the constant transformation of our world.
We talked about how Oregon is becoming more comfortable, how we are beginning to know the sounds and smells and sights of the place a little better. As we walked the peninsula, on one side we could hear the roaring of the ocean. On the other we could hear the lapping of the bay water. Those sounds are familiar to me from so many different places. We looked across the bay to Garibladi and Bay City. We looked on that stretch that is now a regular drive for us. In the distance, the tops of the coastal mountains were full of snow. I wonder how these walks will continue to grow and change. I imagine us walking with a little toddling child. One who cannot seem to stop her legs from moving, always wanting to continue going and seeing what’s around the corner, much like her dad.