Day 221: Milage

Sobriety. It’s the road we set out on when we decide to live differently.

That road, however great in theory, can be pretty overwhelming and distracting. There are lots of things to consider, to dismiss, and to take note of along the way. As I attempt to get back into recovery more actively, focus on the positive in the face of unemployment, boredom, and the hard memories that the fine weather here in Portland is beginning to to drag up from the old days I decided to return to the basics.

Portland is a big part of my heart. Even when faced with difficult realities, I never really considered moving back East to be closer to my family in New York. Oregon’s beauty is a great reminder for me of what we become, and what we come to love when we take risks. I never imagined loving this place as much as I do now when I first decided to move out here. But, the more time I spend out here, the more I learn that this place makes my soul feel at peace.

New York City is a fun, fabulous, and enchanting place. And, while I love it here in Portland, I recognize there are those city girl roots that will always ground me. That part of me, gritty-city girl, has given me the power to speak my mind, candidly. Something West coasters, in general, seem to avoid. At first I thought that honesty, fearless honesty, would turn folks off. I’ve discovered that it has become one of my greatest assets here. People seem, for the most part, to genuinely appreciate my blunt nature. And, in that acceptance, I too found my place as an individual.

When I think about Portland’s place in my heart, what it means to me, it all boils down to openness. The ease with which people move here, the many lifestyles that seem to thrive here ranging from typical domestic folks to off the wall, and off the grid, counter culture folks; there seems to be a place for everyone. And, more than that, there’s a tolerance. An acceptance. The eclectic nature of the town gives it it’s character. People appreciate their crazy differences because it allows them to wake up and be in a city where you don’t know what or who you’ll see next.

In the spirit of appreciation, I took an eight mile walk this afternoon along the Eastbank Esplanade. I started up at Oaks Bottom Wildlife preserve and trekked all the way down to the Steel Bridge. I listened to my Ram Dass audiobook and soaked in the sunshine that has been long awaited here. I watched the different characters of this fair city pass me jogging, chatting, some on bikes, some on roller blades, old, young, and so vibrant and colorful. I watched the city landscape change along the river as I passed the South Waterfront and then on past the city’s many bridges. So many folks were out to celebrate their sun.

As I walked each step of my eight mile jaunt, I thought about the mental mileage I’ve been traversing. I’ve been through a lot with this city, and today, I feel a real part of it, in it, helping it to breathe. Before getting sober, I never felt like a part of the community. I was just here. I loved it, but, I wasn’t in it.

Sobriety has given me the gift of awareness. It’s allowed me to be more mindful of my experience, especially in this city. I have a new appreciation for this place that took me in and allowed me to become a part of, without having to prove anything. I’ve clocked some miles here, and today, as I breezed down the waterfront, I realized that while I have a long way to go on my own road, Portland’s road will always be here for me if I feel like getting sidetracked.

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