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Oak Trees

Oak Trees

I don't want to say that my finals have been easy this year, but you know, they haven't not been easy. Today while I was laying poolside, reading a non-literary novel, I had to take a minute to congratulate myself. I'm just going to lay it all out on the table--I really played my cards right this go around. I figured a few things out. And I can crank out a pretty good academic paper in about 6 hours or less, which may or may not be my proudest accomplishment. That ability is the sole reason why I found myself in a lounge chair and sunglasses watching my legs turn golden-brown instead of in the library, slaving over the paper I have due tomorrow. Unfortunately, I have a difficult time turning the English major off, so instead of peacefully observing the pool, the palm trees and my emerging tan, a really unsavory metaphor popped into my head that involved a comparison between myself and a rotisserie chicken. It's not all fun and games. Actually pretty much it is, I won't lie. I have this job now, and I'm feeling really rather ambivalent towards my final grades, so these last few days have been going pretty dang well.

Most everybody else I know is still deep in the tangle of finals though, so I've been doing a lot by myself--but quite frankly, I really enjoy that. Do I have a future as a hermit? I'm not ruling it out. I think really I just like being on my own schedule, which maybe everybody feels that way--not having to deal with anyone else's needs, in the least offensive and selfish way possible, is a beautiful thing.* Also when I'm by myself I think more clearly and I find generally that I notice things that I wouldn't otherwise. Today at the pool I found 47 different colors in the water and saw a sign that said NO HYPERVENTILATING BEFORE GOING UNDERWATER, which really made me curious as to what incident necessitated someone spelling that out. I also thought for a long time about why I didn't really feel sad yet about graduation, but that really didn't go anywhere, which made me think maybe I just need to be in this moment in time and appreciate what I have right now before I start worrying about my imminent, permanent departure from New Orleans. So I took a nap.

Yesterday when I was walking home from a run in the park, I thought, I wonder what it will be like to not live under oak trees anymore. The oak trees here are magnificent, you know. They defy description, really. When the sun is shining and you're walking along a boulevard lined with leafy green live oak, it's hard to imagine anything better. Probably in that moment there isn't. But then there are times when you think someone is knocking at the door and really it's just a surprise hail storm, which happened to me the other day. I'm not kidding you, I had to stuff towels under the door because the wind was blowing so much precipitation sideways that it was coming in through the crack. Not twenty minutes before it had been a beautiful, 80 degree day. Riddle me that.

There are such startling moments of beauty here, in this place, though, that I don't think that anywhere in the world can compare. I don't know if I can tell you how it feels, but today I was walking home down Broadway and there wasn't any traffic and the world felt completely still. It was quiet. It stopped me dead and pushed me forward at the same time, because for a minute I was a part of everything, on a street that has become familiar in the city that I made mine in a world that I once didn't understand, and I felt so happy  and so sad. Sometimes I think that little pieces of time like that, the ones that stop and make it feel like it was done just for you, are the times that the universe is telling you something--I felt so finished and whole that it must be time for me to move on, because it couldn't get any better.

I think I worked it out, college I mean, so now I feel like it must be time to go. I love it here with everything in me, but not all things are for forever, not all places can be forever homes. You grow and grow and grow, and then you have to know when it's time to go. It's like being at a dinner party when I was a kid--my mom is telling me thank my host and say good-bye, and my dad is saying, well I think we've done all the damage we can do, honey, time to go.

But you know we're begging for ten more minutes, and luckily, I think in this scenario I'm going to get it. The ride is not quite over yet. I have time left to wonder about the oak trees. And lay by the pool. And find some more magical moments and maybe, finally, that elusive signature drink.

xoxo, Lauren

*As if the children upstairs weren't good enough birth control, all I have to do is take one look at my own, self-centered mindset to say NOPE to kids. Because did you know that when you have a child they depend on you for everything and you are never free? I was thinking about that the other day in Starbucks. I mean I realize in an abstract sense that they are your legacy and the best thing you could ever do and when you actually have them they probably don't feel like a burden, but while I was watching this Mom struggle with an impudent little brat at Starbucks with love in her eyes, I realized, wow, I am just not there yet.

The Godfather

I'm in a Southern state of mind. What can I say? I just spent an hour front porch sitting* with a blue blood Louisianian. I heard the exclamation "well shoot me dead!"and not as a joke. I wasn't the only one saying goodness. I ate red white and blue velvet cake. Wagon Wheel just came onto my shuffle. Last night I ate my weight in fried chicken. And then to top it all off, a thunderstorm just rolled in. I was defenseless against a Southern livin' ambush of that magnitude. I'll be honest, it doesn't take much to put me over the edge in terms of missing my beloved South. Don't get me wrong, I am fiercely loyal to the Pacific Northwest as essentially everyone at school can attest. I've been known to claim that you "hardly notice" the rain. And that the indie-loving, barefoot, handmade instrument playing, "I-choose-to-live-on-the-street-because-I'm-against-the-man" people are "charming". And that eco-terrorism is "exaggerated", the public school system is "great" and that Portland is hands-down the best city "ON EARTH". I can neither confirm nor deny the fact that I've seen this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1B2_r6Azvg 128293845784 times. Ok I can confirm.

All it takes though is one whiff of pecans and the slightest glimpse of an oak tree and I'm ya'llin like my life depends on it when I'm in Oregon.

Sidenote: I have discovered that I adopt a thick Southern accent whenever I'm presented with a situation in which I don't know how to behave or am uncomfortable in. Read: every time a salesperson speaks to me. Like an accent so bad that people think I'm from out of town. It's moderately embarrassing, but I can't stop it. I don't know where it comes from, I haven't ever even heard someone speak near as bad as it is.

Luckily, there are plenty of things in Portland to distract from my intense nostalgia for my adopted city. First is my father, whom I love dearly and who wears naked girl trucker socks. You might have seen them. They've gone completely viral. Second is my older sister, whom I also love dearly. She's a disgustingly perky morning person but makes up for it by always finding new and fun things to do on marthastewart.com. Third is my younger sister, whom I also love dearly and who has learned that when she screams, I scream. This is distracting in that I'm constantly on the verge of a heart attack. Fourth is my brother, whom I also love dearly but whose age makes him operate on a completely different level than the rest of us, which makes for great tension and creates never-ending opportunities for me to wonder, "Dear God, was I ever like that?" Then I remember that I've blocked out my middle school years totally so the question is pretty much moot. And last but not least, I have my mother, whom I also love dearly and who just showed me martha stewart's dogs' blog. This is real life. And may I point out, like mother like daughter. Martha seems to be a reoccurring theme in the Hobson household, believe it or not.

Mostly we roll as a 6-person wolf pack, coming in and taking over whatever party, service, farmer's market or coffee shop we go to. I get the impression that once we leave, people don't know what hit them. I would like to think that they're overwhelmed by our grace, gratitude, kindness, shiny teeth and good hair, but the jury's still out on that one. Adding to the experience is our extraordinarily large extended family--everyone knows a Hobson, and whether that's good or bad depends entirely on which Hobson you've met. Once I had a friend describe our family, after a run-in in a town a half an hour outside of Milwaukie, as similar to the Mafia. I tell everyone this, and I don't mention that it was only in terms of our omni-presence in the Milwaukie and surrounding areas, not in terms of taking out hits and who's sleeping with the fishes.** I like a little Godfather-inspired fear now and then.

So yes, the South is great. But not great enough to persuade me to leave my band of Roy Orbison loving compatriots. It's nice to be somewhere where everyone knows me as a part of the Hobson sisters, and they know my grandparents are a little sideways, that my Uncle married my Aunt after they met through my little sister, and that my Uncle and Dad look surprisingly and confusingly alike. And not only does Oregon have the upper hand when it comes my family, I will say there is nothing like Oregon geography. More on that later. Also, Oregon has weather that can't really kill you. I mean comparatively, we are golden. I'm just sayin'.

xoxo, Lauren

*Technically, we were in the backyard, but the concept was front porch sitting. We just don't really have front porches. Too much wood for the rain to rot. Or something like that.

**Vinny, but you didn't hear it from me.