Sunday, June 3, 2007

Three In One

June 1, 2007

I drove this morning from the hotel in Clackamas to Everett. I'm not as familiar with 205, which bends around the east side of Portland, as I am with I5, but last night I knew that we would be more likely to find a mid range hotel and that we would be less likely to get stuck in rush traffic this morning if we took 205.

The Stark Street exit offered me a glimpse of my old stomping grounds. I found myself telling Zirpu about the clients I'd driven for one of my jobs, severely physically or mentally challenged (or both) people who needed rides from their homes to their work sites. One of them was a blind man who would carefully listen to the traffic reports and make sure I heard about the crash on this highway or the stalled vehicle at that exit. I always thanked him while conversing with his best friend, another one of my passengers, about the Van Halen concert he attended in 1985. Whenever a school bus pulled up alongside us, everyone would shout "School bus, Dougie!" for my passenger who loved yellow. I drove all over east and southeast Portland with my eight passengers, looking for school buses and reliving my eleventh-grade year (mine didn't include Van Halen concerts).

I often wonder what my old clients are up to. The oldest clients I had at Harry's Mother emergency youth shelter are 28 now, the youngest 22. Have they been able to repair their family relationships, or been able to go forward, into college and/or a trade, without them? The babies I knew at Letty Owings Center (for drug treatment) are in junior high school, if they weren't too impacted by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. I wonder how many of their mothers stayed clean and sober after they graduated from LOC, and how many times they relapsed before they did (and, inevitably, which children ended up in foster care because of their parents' drug addiction). I don't want to sound like I didn't have faith in the women I worked with in those days, I just know that something like fewer than 30% of addicts stay clean after six months following rehab.

Driving through Tacoma was a different experience because I5 goes right through the center of the city, and not near my university. Also, the road has changed a lot in Tacoma, as has Tacoma itself as people were priced out of Seattle in the 1990s. Everyone I knew in Tacoma has left, except for Mrs. P, who is still teaching at the same school she started in in 1991. Even so, driving through Tacoma was like driving past the home of old friends.

Driving through Seattle, a city with which I never became familiar, I only recognized the exits that would have taken me to my friends' homes in those years that everyone lived there but me and Shobi-wan and Jujubi (who was in graduate school in Canada).

June 2, 2oo7

Bellingham: A pretty city, surrounded by water. Lots of green, with the big yards I associate with Washington and Oregon, and Japanese maples and rhododendrons outside almost every front door.

When I go to a city I like, I often find myself wondering if I could live there. With so much of Zirpu's family here, I have a dozen relatives in this town. I've never lived in a city this size, though I have lived (sort of) in one much much smaller. One thing I've become aware of since moving back to California is the diversity I see there, and I know that I wouldn't see that here (I didn't see it in Portland, either). I know I would miss the bi women's group, not to mention the friends with whom I have cultivated strong relationships, and my own family, whom Zirpu and I see a lot (I know this shouldn't count, because the fact that we live near them is what makes us see them so often, so that would be an even trade).

June 3, 2007

It turns out that two of my brothers-in-law host a home improvement radio show called "Around The House" on Sunday mornings on KGMI. I think it's pretty cool; Click and Clack started with a small show on a local station, and now they host one of NPR's most popular programs. Today they had a guest who is a landscaper and after discussing lawns they got on the subject of moles. I wanted to call in and ask for a drought-resistant solution for our front yard at home in California; I don't care about grass, but I want something out there in our ten-foot-square front yard other than weeds and these flowers. Of course, I wonder what a Bellingham landscaper would say in response to a request for advice about drought-resistant lawns.

I was enjoying the program so much, though, that just as I was reaching for the phone they were asking the guest for his final remarks. My brothers-in-law gave a "shout out to the California contingent" at the very end of the show, and one of them mentioned on the air that I hadn't called in. Someday I will call in and ask something, even if it means that I have to call my parents-in-law and ask them to hold the receiver to the radio so I can hear the show.

Note: I wrote most of this third post this morning, but then we lost internet access for most of the day. As I write this, there are lightning and thunder and it's raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock.

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