On the Oregon Coast, the colds feel colder. We rarely see 90 degrees, and the ocean on its warmest days can give you hypothermia if you spend too much time in it. Chills have a way of getting into your bones and living there like marrow. This week we never really dipped below freezing, but we felt cold for so much of it. Sometimes, feeling cold is worse than being cold. Our minds and bodies have ways of convincing ourselves that something is more than it is. We try to make ourselves fit into a story we believe is happening, so the world makes sense. In this time, it’s easy to ignore the real stories unfolding right in front of our faces.
We are in the process of some staff turnover at the camp, and one of our new employees came up this week to fill out paperwork and get the lay of land for his work space. I took him and Hope to the Offshore Grill in Rockaway. It was a cold, drizzly night, but this cozy local restaurant had their fire going, the dining room was filled with people, and the food looked delicious. In my mind, going back to memories of it a few days ago, I see us being so warm and comfortable. I remember us trying each other’s food and commenting on how tasty it all was. We swapped stories, getting to know each other. Who knows how long we might live and work together. These early stages were unfolding. This would be part of our memory of first getting to know each other.
When we recently moved, Allyson and I made a very conscious decision about where to put our furniture and how to arrange it, particularly with our TV. Rather than making it the focal point of our most prominent living room/den space like we had in the past, we chose to put it in one of our most remote rooms which is through the garage, up a set of stairs. Now, we have to be motivated to watch something on television. We have to travel to a part of the house that isn’t usually convenient. We have forced ourselves to be more creative when we spend time in the most logical room to spend time in mostly devoid of technology. We have both noticed how much more we’ve been talking to each other because of this decision. I find it very difficult not to get sucked into programming if the tv is on, even if I don’t care about it. Without that option, we’ve spent much more time talking about our day, pondering parenthood, and generally sharing what’s been on our minds. We still watch stuff periodically, but it’s much more a conscious choice, not just settling for the least of the streaming evils. We are choosing more interesting options, and it feels good for us.
On Wednesday we had our latest ultrasound. The baby’s growth is accelerating, and it’s becoming more of a reality that she is an actual person and will be a member of our household soon. An ultrasound is a pretty amazing thing. It allows you this chance to see this developing baby inside a body, but you also get to watch her organs at work, see her bones, listen to her movements in ways we won’t be able to after she’s born. After being assured all her parts were working correctly, I asked if we could just watch her move for a moment. I find myself so curious about our daughter. I wonder if I can see her move her arms and legs that it might tell me something about who she will be. She continues to be very active, and I look forward to the ways she will keep me honest with a need to get out and moving. In some ways, I am writing a story for her based on a handful of ultrasounds. But, she is part me–maybe there is something to that.
If we are welcoming someone new to a full-time spot at camp, it’s likely we are telling someone goodbye. On their last night, Allyson and I took our friends to Parkside for milkshakes that have become legendary to some of the camp staff. If you make it to Parkside at the right shift, they will make you a milkshake blended with any of their desserts. I had a milkshake blended with chocolate peanut butter pie, our friends had milkshakes blended with marionberry pie. We sat there in this Garibaldi diner exchanging stories, filling in some of our final moments for a little while. The legendary waitress who makes these milkshakes was kind enough to stay a little later for us on a busy weekend.
I think about memories like this–a late night run for ridiculously good milkshakes the night before friends get up early to leave for a new adventure. The ultrasound, where you watch your daughter move her arms and legs. The first moments of friendships, the last moments of a chapter. These are the plot points in our own mythologies we write for ourselves.
I think about what I want my story to be. I think about these slightly spontaneous moments running to a local eatery with friends when you didn’t have to, but it felt like the thing to do. I think about holding on to something just a little bit longer, to look at it, to sit with it, to get to know it just a little bit more while there is time. Yes sometimes we choose to create our own stories, but every now and then those stories turn out to be pretty damn good.