Day 9 – HOME?

I still have not made a satisfactory decision as to whether I will try to stay or go back home. I have decided one thing for certain. Even though my business is not through on the west coast, whether visiting or staying, I want to go home for a couple days visit. A vacation from my vacation…? Obviously that’s not going to happen. Even supposing I had the money to make the round trip a second time, I’m sure that I would get home and absolutely not want to come back.

This hints to me that I have already adjusted to living here. That here is home. Even though I have a place to live, I want to go Home. I think no matter how well I adjust, accept, living here, I’ll always want to go Home, and that I would be looking for every possible opportunity from here on. Maybe it’s best to consider this a vacation and not get too attached before I find myself stuck here and miserable. Interesting – this train of thought relates directly back to the other day. Will I be miserable if I go Home and regret not trying to live here, or will I be miserable if I stay here and realize I don’t like it and am stuck in a cycle of not-enough-money not-enough-time and can’t go back?

I had a feeling early on that I already decided what I wanted and that it was a matter of discovering myself so that I could carry out my own wish. That feeling is still lingering, and I cannot help but think the revelation is close. I think in the next couple days I will be certain that I want to come home.

I’m not willing yet to put my weight behind that. And a lot can still happen in the next two weeks. A lot still has to happen. I did not just come to look for jobs. I need to visit people. Friends in Springfield. I’ll be heading up there tomorrow and coming back on Sunday. Then there’s the hard one….

I need to visit Grandpa. I didn’t get to see him when his health was deteriorating. I didn’t get to come to the funeral.

I’m dreading the conversation with Grandma. I don’t know how well she will take the subject. But I need her help – I can’t very well search every headstone for 50 miles. I’ve been finding excuses to delay asking her, just like I have been finding excuses to avoid job hunting. I’m running out of time. Assuming I do go back, my trip has run nearly a third of its course. Close to half my time in Applegate has passed, accounting for this weekend in Springfield. When I come back I have to ask. No excuses. No matter how scared I am to do so.

My birthday is tomorrow. I know that it sounds straight out of fiction, but I forgot until Grandma reminded me. It’s not that I don’t remember the date. I just haven’t been paying attention to the calendar and the day itself is not so very important to me. I can’t say why. I just don’t…like…my birthday. It’s so bittersweet. I usually have a good time, but it’s a day that my friends and family make all about me. I hate being the center of attention unless I do it to myself. Then I like it a lot.

Then there’s the fact that I have spent my last two birthdays with two different girls. I can’t spend tomorrow with Briana. I have fond memories of numbers twenty and twenty-one. But whenever I reach into my mind and dredge them out, I can’t help but feel sad. This time next year, what will I think about twenty-two? Sad again? Sad because this time I was alone? Guilty because I was happy, because I treated it like just another day? I don’t know.  

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Day 8 – STILL ALIVE

ADENDUM:

due to poor connection (who would have guessed, Viaero doesn’t work so well on the west coast…) and the extreme hour, I don’t really care to deal with whatever I have to deal with to get this post live. I’ll retry in the morning. So it’s going to be at least part of another day late. I’m sure you folks are hanging on the edge of your seats to hear an update from me. Sorry.

I missed a couple posts. I’m still here though. I had some personal issues to deal with. I won’t trouble my readers with my dirty laundry. We’ll just say that I was deeply troubled and wasn’t able to think at all. I’m not even angry, though. I just worked my way through the days. Money in my pocket. Good times.

My Grandmother has a large collection of structures on her ranch – a large collection of structures in a large collection of architecture and purpose. Several which she rented out for living space. One of the common things here is fifth-wheel camper trailers which are placed and intended to be considered permanent. A roof is built over them to keep the weather out and assist in insulation. After a while, maybe a wall is cut out of the camper and a structure built onto the side. Then another structure added. And so on. Soon you’ve got a relatively large house that is built around what was originally just towed in on a pickup truck. Unfortunately, for various reasons, these structures eventually have to go. That’s what I have been helping with.

Grandma hired a family friend to tear down one of these houses. He quoted a much cheaper price than many others in the area might have, and his reasons are intriguing. Instead of taking the wrecking ball to the house and clearing up the rubble, he takes them apart piece by piece, salvaging everything he can. On the first day I worked – day 3, I think – he and his crew had already made pretty solid progress on the destruction effort. I got there just in time to watch the camper trailer get towed out. Two of its walls almost entirely gone. He intends to tow it back to some land he owns in Redding, CA, where he will rebuild the wall and either sell it or keep as a rental/guest space. Then we began tearing down the permanent bits of the structure. Drywall off the walls. Shingles off the roof. Electric cables out, big hammers and pry bars to start taking up the sheet goods and taking out the wall studs. A guy employed basically full time just to take nails out of each bit of scrap we bring him. After about ten hours of cumulative work (I have no idea how long it was before the trailer got hauled,) we’re down to a small (5’X10′ approx.) room and the deck. Piles of rubble everywhere. Most will get reused. It looks like so much trash, but I don’t fault anybody who thinks they can actually do something useful with it.

Perhaps not the most interesting post, but at least you all know what I’ve been doing now.

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Day 5 – COLD(er) FEET

Today, in the middle of conducting my normal daily life (normal…relative to the rest of this week.) within a Starbucks, I suddenly had this pit open up in my brain. A deep chasm of doubt. Is this what I really want? What happens after I get a job? I have to get a place to live. What then? How do I get the rest of my life here? I barely have enough money to get home, let alone get home, get my rat, my girlfriend, all our stuff, come back, get a place to live. And what if the job doesn’t last long? The biggest chance I see for employment is a seasonal position which will probably end by Christmas. And what if I absolutely can’t stand my job, whether seasonal or not?

Maybe it’s better to take the devil-you-know approach. Go home, continue the work I had. With the people and place I know. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t me giving up. This could easily be a little bout of homesickness that will pass in a day or two. I’m just thinking….What if?

I talked to my brother for a little while today. He called at a poetically convenient time. I rushed home from Starbucks. Had to be alone. Started hiking up the hill. Got to the extreme northwest corner of the ranch, conveniently also the highest point on Grandma’s property and probably the highest point nearby that I would be physically capable of reaching. Not 30 seconds after reaching the summit he called me. I had to be alone, but I’ve been a stranger too long. It was worth the chat. I explained my current feelings to him.

His advice to me was to not do anything I would regret. That is, don’t give up and go home. I would regret not trying it out. I would regret missing the opportunities. I would look back on my life when I’m thirty and want to shoot the dumb kid who made that stupid decision.

What if instead I regret staying? What if I blow my chances at every opportunity I had back home and end up living in a Buick down by the river? Say what you want, insist that it is homesickness and fear of change. I admit it. It’s both of those things. That doesn’t mean that it is not a rational concern to hold, does it? The next three weeks, one way or another, define what the rest of my life will be. It would be insane for me not to be scared.

The general consensus from those who have tried to encourage me is “you can’t just put in two job applications and then give up.” Here’s how it sits. This is not about giving up. I’m capable of spending all day every day looking for a job. I’ll go to every restaurant, mom-and-pop, sit-down chain, fast food, every retailer, every building that has a sign out front implying it does some sort of business. I’ll go everywhere and look for a job. But it’s not about giving up. It’s about whether this is the right decision. I can get a McJob at home. And I can do it without spending thousands of dollars and upsetting my life to move 1300 miles away.

The reason I came here was because I wanted to live instead of survive. If the choice is survive here or survive at home, I’ll pick surviving at home any day and just go back with a vacation under my belt. Whether I live here or survive here is entirely up to me. It’s not a conscious decision, and I think that it already has been made. Now I need to get introspective and figure out the decision I’ve already subconsciously made. I’ll embrace it either way.

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Harry & David building

As promised. It’s a crazy looking building and has no reason to be like that, especially not for a fruit/candy production company. But it’s so cool!

Harry & David building

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Day 4 – RAIN & RELAXATION

It rained all morning. I decided that there was absolutely nothing to do today but sit around and enjoy a peaceful day. I began reading The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven. I’m 30% through now. Not a significant accomplishment for a day of reading, but it’s a fair bit all the same.

Lunch was cheese cucumber sandwiches before. I’ve had cheese sandwiches and I’ve had cucumber sandwiches. I never considered combining the two until now. It was nice. I also was in charge of our evening meal. Pasta with alfredo sauce and tuna, and cauliflower. Grandma didn’t say much about it – I don’t think she disliked it, but after that many years it probably takes some pretty damned good cooking to stand out enough to be worth praise. I’m sure that mine was average. Bonus, though: she implied that she would leave all the leftovers to me for lunch tomorrow. This seems like the kind of dish that may just get better after it’s spent an evening in the refrigerator. You know the ones. Like pizza. Somehow the cold leftovers are a million times better than when it’s fresh.

Tomorrow, rain or shine, I plan on getting out of the house. I don’t know what to do or where to go. I’ll probably find a WalMart to get a bottle of oil and walk around aimlessly. I suppose it would benefit me to bring my computer wherever I go. Perhaps I’ll find some internet juices while I’m out and about. Or perhaps I’ll end up in a region that actually has some 4G service for a change.

As a parting thought before I drift off to the land of flying sheep with numbers painted on them, or whatever, I’d like to mention my sleeping habits.

Normally, I take up ALL the bed. No matter what size. All the bed plus a bit more, in the case of loveseats. And I normally sleep on my left side. It helps with the heartburn that I sometimes get at night and is generally more comfortable.

However, I spent the last couple weeks more-or-less staying with Briana. I slept at home a few nights, but apparently not enough to break my routine. See, she, like me, sleeps on ALL the bed. Except that it doesn’t matter if I’m sleeping on part of the bed too. And we always end up with me on my right side holding her. Never my left – too bad, too. I want to be the little spoon from time to time. SO BACK TO TOPIC. I’ve got a California King bed here. I sleep on the tiniest little patch of it I can fit on. Four of me could fit on the bed and not cause discomfort to each other. And I sleep on my right side. My painful side. Just because I’m used to doing that with my girlfriend.

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Day 3 – COLD FEET

Today I began having doubts over how much I really want to spend more than this month out here. It’s not that I don’t like it. I really do. But I have left so much behind at home, plus it may just be easier to keep what I have than to pick up and start over in a new area. I always have been saying that the worst case was that I would have a month-long vacation. Maybe that’s also the best case. I have not decided yet and it has not had an affect yet on my job search.

Today I went shopping with Grandma. During the course of our day, two grocery stores, a gas station, and Hometown Buffet. We drove all around, looked at potential places for me to apply for. Like I said, I don’t yet plan to try less hard because of this. It may just be a phase. Or maybe I will go home. I just am taking every day by itself. This has been a wonderful opportunity to clear my head and just relax.

If I do go back immediately after this month is over, I have begun considering an alternate route home. The fact is, there is no way in hell that I will drive back through that desert. Which means that I’ll be taking I-5 as far south as Sacremento. If I do that, I am considering going a few more hours south to two of my uncles and their families. Then, why not go a few more hours south to two more aunts and an uncle and all their families?

That’s all speculation of course. I may stay. I may find that the hours/gas cost is too much and blaze right through Sacramento into Salt Lake.

There is one thing I know I will never stop missing, though: pumping my own gas. Seriously, Oregon, why are you so damned backwards about that?

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Day 2 – JACKSONVILLE

I started fresh this morning with a relatively large breakfast. I’m not at all used to that. But it was nice. Then another hike. About the same length as yesterday. If I keep that up I might actually be able to climb all the way up the hill in a couple weeks. A little bit of exercise never hurt anybody, right?

 

I went into Medford today. Grandma sent me to a farm supply store to pick up some salt for her water softener. Thanks to Google, I actually made it. She gave me some instructions which I managed to follow pretty good, but the distance I had to travel after the final turn was unclear. That’s when I nearly gave up, but tried my phone first. I had to drive several miles farther than I expected to, and had to go a half mile after taking ANOTHER turn that I was not told about. But I got there in the end.

 

Across the street from this farm store is a place called Harry and David, a fruit basket/candy merchant. They have a very large set of facilities that include a candy factory, assembly area, warehouse, and offices. The building is quite an impressive thing to see. I remember last time I was in this area wishing so badly that I could take a picture of it. These days I keep at least one camera on my person at all times, so I finally got to do it! It’s unusual – steampunkish? Futuristic? I don’t know. But it’s pretty neat all the same. I can’t currently upload the picture thanks to my internet connection, but I promise it will come.

 

Finally I walked around Jacksonville for a while. It’s a very crowded town, but it’s somehow still quiet and pleasant. I spent close to four hours there before I headed back in, and here I am. Time for a bit of rest, then dinner and another hike. Life is good, it seems.

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