I've been on a brief blogging hiatus. This was unintentional. All I know is that one second it was Easter, and the next second my room smelled like new cardboard boxes, school was out and I was on a plane back to Portland. Don't ask me how it happened, I don't know--time moves in mysterious ways. In those 3 weeks or so, I wrote 3 papers, took 3 finals, went to LSU and met Mike the Tiger, sang God Bless the USA on Bruff quad, said good-bye to Toni Weiss forever, and said sad good-byes to my dearest friends. But not for forever.

I think my hesitation to write about my last few weeks at school was purely an inability to acknowledge that soon my stint in that sun-drenched wonderland would be coming to an end. There were moments of happiness that seemed like they would go on forever--laughing in a booth at the Boot, laying stretched out at the social pool, stepping outside into the heat of the night. I suppose the magic came from knowing that it wouldn't go on infinitely, that we are not infinite, but I'm not about to admit that out loud. Sometimes I would think, these are the days! but I have a strict suppression policy. Writing about those last few weeks would have inevitably led me to recognizing that in 10 days, 8 days, 5 days, tomorrow--I would be leaving. And not just leaving the place that I love so much, that is now so familiar to me, but I'd be leaving the warm weather, the accents, service people who call you baby, late night coffee, southern food, the list goes on and on. I would be leaving my friends, the bread and butter of my existence in New Orleans, and I knew I would miss with a sad ache the very essence of their companionship. Knowing all this makes it hard to focus on the present, trust me.

It's not that Portland is a bad place to come back to, don't get me wrong. I often sing the praises of my hometown, it's a beautiful city that I love tremendously and I probably won't ever want to leave for too long. But yesterday when I was sitting in traffic on a bridge over a gray river, watching a gray sky drop gray misty rain so far down the hill I was facing that it looked like the water and the sky were combining--trapping me in a cocoon of intermediary color. To be fair, I was driving to a massage, and I was drinking sweet sweet Windhorse Coffee, so I can't complain too much. And in a weird way, the rain is comforting and timeless, it's been tapping out the rhythm of my life for as long as I can remember. Also, as an added bonus, my bed feels warmer when it's colder outside. I can't explain it but I love it.

And of course, my family is here. The maddeningly lovable crowd I call my own is an integral part of my life here, ready and willing to integrate me back into the herd whether I like it or not. Most of the time I like it, sometimes I need Lauren alone time. It's what's best for everybody.

In one sense I feel like I'm swapping one life for the other, New Orleans for Portland. But I don't think it's an even trade, and I can't favor either place. Whenever I leave one for the other and whine and cry about how I hate leaving and how it never gets easier, I have a friend in Portland who without fail reminds me that it's better to hate leaving both and miss each equally, than have it be lopsided one way, or not miss either. And then I remember, albeit grudgingly, how lucky I am to have been afforded the opportunity to establish such excellent existences in both New Orleans and Portland. I have the best of both worlds. I'll tell you what I won't miss: the humidity that's about to hit school for a solid three months. I'm just saying.

xoxo, Lauren