Posts Tagged ‘eugene’

I am back on the oregon coast and i wonder what i have done – eugene seems a million years and miles ago, and the wandering life of the past has come and shone or slapped me in the face. I sit in a cafe in Florence, beneath the bridge where i was a mere three days ago but it feels like a life has passed by.

 And i ask myself what the hell am i doing here. Yes i have had some deep nights sleep in fresh air and quiet – 12 hours or more, but i have felt the hardness of the ground beneath my bones, my hips press hard into the dirt, and my body begins to feel hard and worn once again. I looked in the mirror in this cafe when i first got out here and realize how i was looking younger once again – but now i feel like i have aged again, forgot how hard this life can be, and when i got here how a month of stability wiped many of the years from my face. Though with this camping trip i stay clean, the free hot showers in oregon state parks.

But the walk into town today – three miles up the highway seemed long and lonely, though easier than yesterday when i was carrying my pack – feeling like my back was about to give, but both times feeling more disconnected from society at large. regaining the looks of a drifter, even when the big back is left behind, a look i never truly lost, but one that seemed more subtle for a while. And the novelty of walks on the road, the adventure is gone, is it because i have been here before, or is it that feelings return. I grocery shop with my backpack thrown into and filling the cart, and people look on. though people here are kind – oregon is overall a kind friendly state – the workers in the parks, the bus drivers, the old man who talked to me when i got off the bus, the few i have talked to when drinking coffee – but i feel tired. And another zone entered.

i spend my first two nights up the road – at carl g. washburn state park – on a lonely stretch of road – a huge fairly empty hiker-biker camp in the trees – hear the ocean and the wind blow through the trees – sleep and sleep – walk a bit the day i spent – eat portable picnic food – bagels, peanut butter, string cheese, apples, carrots, odwalla bars – the diet of old. I appreciate the beauty, the calm, the earth and trees and sea and sky and air mingling, but as with previous times out on the coast, and camping in general, i ask what am i doing. yes, i need it as a break, but as a life?, and what is next?. what did i leave behind, what did i not see or appreciate and am i doing the same thing again. but that gnawing has come at me before.

I hitched up from the end of town, a lift from a guy who drove an extra few miles for me. once there, what am i doing, where to next, i don’t want to travel, why the coast again – yachats and newport came to mind, or really a city a town in which to live, to join in, missing working, a routine, a purpose, feeling confident and belonging again, not really to the place, for it was the feeling of being unwanted, the contempt and disdain that once treated me with that led me to flee, that feeling that has always put me out on the road.

And i think back to the time in eugene, did i play it out well – no i did not but yes i did – still i left feeling alone and sad, though i know i did a good job – and the cords still bind – could i have pushed on for more – then i think of the band coming in, the noise outside my door, the looking for cute young things to work for him knowing i could be given the kick at any time, the disregard for me – and while i gave my best, how much did the negativity that arose in me feed the cycle, i kept it to myself, but thought forms went out – as i felt them come in. and just as i felt used and not seen as a whole person, how many people who passed through did i not really see, did not really acknowledge. and as i felt judged, did i judge others, and as i began to have that feeling of place and confidence and a role return, did i become to big inside – and forget that i had nothing else. and when he was away, and the heaviness of my nice but martyrish roommate left, i began to feel lighter, and i hated the instability that was there, never knowing when shift would change, when i would get a new person in my room, but all i have now is greater instability. but to learn and not to cling. But i wonder how i could have ended up back here – and once again i feel like i fucked up though i know i gave.

and now…. the wind blows strong along the coast – and the mountains cut it off from the inside. i appreciate what is here, but i long for a life, a life i need to create, at the same time i feel more cut off. the wind blows from the north, i left washburn, was going to hitch up north, knowing yes a return to where i have been before, the towns came to mind as a stop gap and bus service exists up there, was about 15 minutes on the road, hating standing there, decided not to fight the winds, so i crossed the road and came south again. a 70something year old woman picked me up and told me about her life – so sweet – not always who you will expect to stop.

Time at safeway, drinking coffee, buying food, then a 3.5 mile walk south – no longer up for this. a nice hiker-biker area – treed, spacious, the only woman once again, one other “hiker” – both by foot and thumb, talked from the carolina’s, talk of newport, of travel, and nice to bond. So here i am – feel a blur of the past 4 months since i have been back – the San Francisco, Seattle, other places were forgotten about, returned to me – this voyage seems like a big blur. and now i am lost, on a stop gap action, appreciate the days, the blue skies, the sun on the trees in the evening, the sound of the wind in the trees, the clean air, the kindness of people, but again, as so many times before i feel the call for a town, not one where the highways runs through and is the town as with so many places on the coast, but one where i may build, and i feel like i had maybe been given a chance but i did not see, and i know i cannot go back there – and was not a place to stay for the winter (as i have learned i cannot handle the gloomy northwest winter skies), but as i felt when out in the country, i want to connect and join in the dance.

and the wind blows and the fog begins to roll in and this is where i am and the time is now. and the sun still shines. And to join in where i am and not yearn for what is not, step towards the light and create a life. i believe i will leave the coast soon and it is time to stop the wandering, but to be with what is and to decide how to move beyond yet as the saying goes “be here now” and be grateful for what is.

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A vortex? A cesspool that draws you in and pulls you down? No, the swirl is slow and the motion unseen. A puddle of thick mud, like in the remains of a forest after weeks or months of rain – verging on quicksand, as you slowly sink, pulled in bit by bit, your boot caught in the thick goo that does not want to let go. And you look around the path you chose, and see no way forward or back, and the trees do not appear as vibrant as they once did. And that is how it feels here in Eugene – and i know i have been writing this for a few weeks now, but my feet are still stuck in the mud. And it is easy to stay though i know that i will soon need to yank myself out, or perhaps i will be pushed by a great force. Just when the trees close in, a bird cheeps or the sun filters through and it lulls you, lulls you to sleep.

Or maybe it is not a mud puddle, but a magnet, pulling you forth, holding you in place – a place that is familiar – too familiar – not only in the form of this town, but in the energetic matrix that it is. And it pulls at me – the like attracts like – and a part of me of which i wish to let go – for it is holding, holding on, and that is what i have done all too much, and possibly why i came back here. And what i see in so many around this place – the aging hippies and many more.

But there is a gentleness about the place – a place where people are allowed to be – where the down and out and wanderers are allowed to live and be – where they/we are not hunted down and persecuted like in so many other locales – a part of the fabric of life in this part – and in that way shows a more accepting kinder vibe. For eccentric is normal here, and the boundaries break down; some spread their wings now outside the societal cage, while others who could not soar far beyond, sit on the ground with broken wings, but avoid the plight of the factory hens.

Still, the place seems stuck to me – or maybe it is all just a creation of my mind – but i so much feel the 1980s here transported back in time – of how i lived or wanted to, way back then, the whiteaker the small city version of the ideal my rose coloured glasses saw back then – i could flesh this out, but i will repeat my words that have been written before – and perhaps that’s it, for here i feel i repeat a life that was – no not repeat, but look on and watch, for connections and the pull to it really don’t call me forth. but i am still here – observing and looking on – and the feeling of disconnectedness returns.

Memories came up a few days ago of times of my youth – the music, the clothes, the partying that is around and more. For a few days before i felt my energy loosening up and letting go, lighter and so connected to the all, but once that came up, my body stiffened and energy returned to places inside of me. May it flow through it once again.

Last night an “art walk” in the neighbourhood where i stay – so little really on display – feels worn out and just hanging on to me; the crowds were not, and those who came through had that look as if they were seeking something more, something that was not to be found.

Back to the magnet – i ask myself how long do i stay and what is it that is to be processed through. For i had not wanted to come, on several occasions in the past few years, dread has arisen as i thought of a return to this place – but strongly wishing to avoid something puts out as much energy as strongly wishing its manifestation.

I know the time is now – if time really exists at all. The zone that is here transcends space and time – for i have returned to it many times in many places, and Eugene is just one of its manifestations to me on this earthly plane. Or maybe all is created in my mind (last night as i sat out back listening to the band, all who were there looked familiar, as if i had met them somewhere else before in slightly different human bodies, but playing out the same old scene)

If i am to leave this vortex or mud puddle what must be transformed is the energy inside – so that the pull truly disappears. For there is a comfort, like that of a couch in front of a tv when you have a cold. to remain for a while in order to heal, not force yourself out too soon, but to get up and move about so you don’t become a potato in the dark soil.

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I feel a sucking energy here in eugene – one of lethargy and complacency. Maybe is it the laid back vibe that so many others value, but its underbelly shines me in the face. My age perhaps – too old for this – or see the partying that has gone on too long for many, and the eyes of those for whom it might be a passing phase. The smell of pot wafts around and there are so many disorganized lives – or glassy eyes from the few beers that turned into an all afternoon into the night thing.

It is a college and granola town, and now that school is finally out – late here in the middle of June – the town is quiet and eats away at me. The slacker vibe and maybe that is why i am here – for my life in the past few years has been that – i now clean a hostel and check quests in in exchange for a dorm bed. And the slacker vibe has come into me- yet i too cannot lift myself out, the bed with the noise that penetrates the walls and the highway or factory that can be heard slightly below all.

And i find i no longer relate – a lifetime ago for me – one who irritates and i am twice her age – the festivals, the bands, and that no longer hold it for me and have not for a very long time. It is comfortable but does not inspire me.

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The body remembers. the mind remembers. I am still in Eugene and it feels like previous times that i have been here and like another type of flash to the past. I wake up tired and groggy not wanting to communicate – a way i woke up for much of my life but not in the past few years. Despite the abundance of health food stores, i do not feel like cooking much and my diet, while still healthy, becomes what it was years ago. I walk quite a bit, but the body feels weak, and restless too, again a flash to the past. And the way i process events and emotions seems to have regressed to another time.

I started to write this yesterday, and then i was to write about parallel lives, how this zone feels so cut off from others i have recently been in, and if perhaps i am just a small part of a larger beings consciousness and am really living all these lives simultaneously, like fragments of a dream. For when i come back here it seems that i physically and emotionally feel like i have here in the past, and my thoughts and activities are similar to what they were here, and all follow a similar process and shift as they have in this locale and what that is created is but a continuation of what was experienced here before, as if what has happened in other locales has been bracketed or erased. And as such i feel like i have once again stepped back in time, though now feeling more removed as if watching myself.

But it is not merely the time that was contained in this space that i reconnect to; the people here in this hostel and who i meet with few exceptions are not the same as those who were here before, and though they are new to me, they help carry me to memories back before this space. As does this town in some ways – reminds me of what i once was and what i had once wanted to be – the mid-sized college town with that bohemian hippie alternative air. And as with previous visits here i find myself loosing “my voice” – not literally, but that passion to express feels stilted somehow – or somehow stuck.

I am doing a work trade at the hostel, cleaning and checking in guests in return for my stay. Something that i have done before, but that is so part of a stage of life i thought i had moved through and wanted to let go of, or move beyond. And that is how i feel, back here once again. And the one actual person who i have reencountered from the outside, is a woman i met up in Anchorage at the hostel up there two years and a bit ago – the last time i cleaned in a hostel in return for my bed. And it was her who gave me a lift out of there to Homer on the Kenai Peninsula and to what became the beginning of a new stage of my life. And while i am glad to have reconnected with her again, meeting her here makes me feel like i have not really moved on. And this time i won’t get a lift out of here- her car deal fell through, and she is flying back home. and i get taken further back, because like many who pass through here she reminds me of another i knew years ago – in a creative writing class back in Montreal. At night, my dreams take me back there too. But perhaps this is all part of what i said a few months ago about integrating parts of my life and i now ask should i have just let go for i feel less full of life than i did, even in angst, just a little while ago.

Besides the owner of this place, the other actual person i met, was a man whose last visit here was my first in 2007. I looked at him his first day here – that look of familiarity from i don’t know where – he reminded me so much of M who i lived with for over a year, in a zone in some ways similar to this. A bowler hat on a wide chunky face, his smile and the hair that hangs down and beard starting to grey, and the walk and the posture were so familiar to me. And this place, the alternative pot smoking crowd, reminds me of that.

In some ways it brings back a combination of my teenage years, and the youth that predominate bring it back more. There is so much that i once wanted to reclaim – but being here now i know that i can’t go back to what i was before, and with the acceptance that comes with middle age i no longer wish to for i am not the same person i was then. And so i feel stuck in another sort of time warp, a friendlier one, but one that fits no more. The hostel and the wandering crowd, so many people who travel around, biking, hiking, searching craigslist for rideshares – talks of festivals – of burning man, and hula hooping and poi and fire dancing and more. And the creative types and wannabes hanging out on porches just passing away the days. So much that i once wanted to experience, but that truly calls no more. And i had thought of the alternative festivals before coming here – a place to camp and meet and be – caught in circles of searching for what isn’t really me.

And i see others who call me back to my college years and before – one of the work traders a few years older than me – who is getting depressed after band broke up and walks around saying i’m bored, reminds me of W. from the cafe – that anti-authoritarian veggie political cafe where i spent so much of my time back then – it hasn’t existed for years but it would fit so well into this neighborhood – endless debates on politics, the environment, and what is the next way – and so self-conscious in its alternative stance. A woman about 10 years younger than me with long pony tails, a pierced nose, tattoos, and a long skirt commented that i and another seem to be from the east coast – she reminded me of some of the hard-core granola activists i met in Ontario. And another girl here is the spitting image of someone i knew in university – and like many here, the same age we were them, and maybe what i am experiences are the ideals as they exist at a certain stage in life.

The discussions i have and listen to are refreshing on issues and other ways – but i feel that i have had them so many times before. And last night i watched a film of the Dead Kennedys early years – another flashback again. so much here brings me back to a particular zone – a zone of living that extends beyond time and space but is framed in certain locales. And the frame to me is beginning to feel a bit like a cage.

It is not a question of throwing all this away, as i tried to for many years, and that tossing is probably what brought me back here a couple of year back – to reclaim some of me that i had lost. But now it is to value what is here, but to not cling to what no longer fits or at least in the way that currently exists. I expect to be here for another week or so, and during that time i will let myself grow.

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Eugene –

I have returned to Eugene – that hippie town. And in many ways it is. And today i like it here – feel comfortable and not out of place, blending in with so many around. So different from seaside where i just was. The sun shone and i walked along the river through the parks and along the multitude of bike/walking paths that cover this town – or small city i should say. The river much higher than on any of my previous visits and the rock i had liked to sit on was underwater. Still i found one bench and then another, and watched the river flow and people jogging and biking along, some saying hi one their way past. And on the way down i passed the rose garden, so fragrant at this time of year – the first time i have been here when the roses are in bloom. I am still tired and my writing somewhat forced, but today i felt more alive than in a while. My mind abuzz with concepts of measurement and perception and consciousness.

Sunday was different. The day was grey, and it was this first time in a long while that i got soaking wet as i walked along – my pants drenched and sticking to my thighs and this is what i wrote:

I am now back in Eugene and the rain is still here and am in the grey zone once again – the ruts in the circle are getting deeper, carved into the mud, the familiar paths get packed down hard and so that the walls appear to grow and are harder to climb over for with the mud you slip back down, and harder to see beyond – all i know is that there must be a beyond, but with the walls that surround it is getting so much more difficult to imagine what may lay there. And with the rain that covers my glasses all seems but a damp blur. And my feet get stuck in the mud.

I spent the day at the library and the rain gave way to mere grey. I found a book, one of several that i had brought over to my comfortable seat, and read it from cover to cover. I like this library, one of my favorite with plenty of comfortable seating and so many books that appeal to me – for the collection in smaller cities reflects the type of town it is – and in many ways the type of town i could fit into – maybe. And there is a cafe with cheap coffee which you can take upstairs as you read and a book exchange in the lobby for those without library cards. In many ways it is the centre of downtown, beside the transit centre, a place where a diverse group comes to visit, and the block in front where the street kids – many seem to be more delinquents – still try to gather – now with limitations on the behaviour there.

I stay in the Whiteaker neighborhood, the most granola and artsy of them all – small older houses, many a bit run down but with cachet – or more – some painted in wild colours – purples and pinks and blues and orange with creative art of bicycles and found objects dotting many porches and lawns. The neighborhood is treed like much of the city and the streets with the uneven sidewalks are dark at night. During the day, you see the art, creative gardens – some small overgrown lawns, and few plain tended ones. A short walk to downtown, and in or nearby, cafes with reasonable prices and organic or other ethnic food, small bars, health food stores, – and with a cheap regular grocery store, 7-11 and so much more. It is the bohemian area of young artists, musicians, activists and other counter cultural types and potheads. In it i appear very straight and conventional. It has its allure but is it really me – twenty years ago perhaps, but i am not sure anymore. Still people often say hi and live their lives and there are nearby neighborhoods, while alternative by conventional standards are not quite so bohemian.

Maybe that is why i feel sad and blocked here, seeing so many youth pursuing their passions – life laid out in front of them – for so many do live in alternative ways – not only the young but also the old. Grey haired women and men of modest means, living simply getting by but seeming to have passion in their lives. But i also see those who have fallen off the edge – not just the hard core street kids of downtown, or the drunks who hang out at red apple recycling bottles to buy more beer, or the grey ponytails with ragged clothes who ride around on bikes and smoke too much weed, but others who seem more like me who let life pass them by or somehow fell away over time and who wander around or sit on porches and those who i do not see who sit behind closed doors. But i see those who work their passions and those who work jobs but still have passions; in stores and elsewhere it is not merely an underclass who works. And while the highways circle the downtown core, there is decent public transportation and so many who get around by bike.

Yes, there is the yuppie element as well on the other side of down – the boho types with progressive green values but where class is apparent in every way. And there is the closing in against the street kids, many who are but teens, in the downtown core. But here, there seems to be truer acceptance and openness to a multitude of lives. The live and let live ideal seems to be more of a reality here. There is the student zone by the university, with frat houses and excitement over the wins and losses of the Ducks, and there are so many “regular” people too. And poverty and hard drug areas as well – and of course the suburban “sprawl” with malls and big box stores. i wonder how much overlap there is between the worlds or if they are pockets unto themselves – for i not clearly fit any category.

There is much here that i value – the library, events, parks and cafes – and that it is a city but one that moves at a slower pace and the friendlier atmosphere. And like with previous visits i have thought of trying to stay here – though now i realize for the summer only for i don’t believe i can do a winter of the northwest grey. I put out some feelers, ran a housing wanted ad on craigslist, looked at a place and made so calls but nothing seems to fall into place and the fears and low self esteem rise up further and further again. And this weekend is graduation, and the town is booked up and will be time to move on.

For it makes me face just how far i have fallen, and wonder if i can claw my way out. Competition for work is fierce and i am old and worn out, and for housing it can be tough as well – and so much done by word of mouth and connections in this smaller town. I see a few others with their lists and letters of references, something so demanded that i cannot show – and it eats at me – not only the necessity and practicality but also the hurt that i don’t have people to say i’m great and am reminded of how i’ve screwed up. Never done a bad job – in fact i have been told so many times my work is good or paid rent late, but i have had trouble fitting in and getting along with others so many times – and been cast out. And tears run down my face as i write this down as i think of the pain all that has caused and feeling ashamed and all alone and as an outcast. And i shake as i write this, snot drips from my nose, and i can barely see my way through the tears. And then i run again.

This feeling has been with me for years, and i have fallen more and more over time and am reminded of how far removed i really am. For with housing, i have not had a home or an address for almost 5 years, and really only one in my name for a brief five months since 2001. And my employment history is just as skewed and non-existent, and my last two short positions – one volunteer – did not work out all that well, and the last ended in disaster with me harshly cast out. And while this came up when i briefly tried here 2.5 years ago, since that time i have only fallen further and deepened the ruts that hold me in.

And so i will probably move on tomorrow or so to who knows where. i get more and more tired as the ruts get deeper but i do not know how to climb out. And where to go – i dont know – and i have not for years – for there is no place for a person like me, no place to go. and this is how i have felt my time in the northwest over the past several years – but i keep coming back and fail to pass through, bringing up only more tears.

While there is so much wonderful about Eugene – and other towns i have been in – it is dark cloud that comes up and hangs on all too tight. And while much is not the place per se – for it happens in almost any place i think i might want to stay – and to be honest here is not the top of my list – but how much longer can i keep going on. Will i end up in the type of place where i truly do not wish to be?

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