Twenty-One Years Ago

Hi All –

Over at Fox’s Lane, she posted about where she was twenty-one years ago and asked readers the same. I loved the idea, and here we are.

At that time, Greg and I had been married for eight years, living in Portland (Oregon) for three in our cute cottage on Southeast 56th Avenue. After buying our house in the summer of 1998, the furnace died. It was a $4000 hit, and as we put every bit of savings into buying the house, we were still struggling to pay for it and a new water heater. I remember wondering when we’d be able to be more whimsical with our spending, when we wouldn’t have to scrimp to take a vacation or update something in the house. My fingers were perpetually crossed that nothing else would break and die.

But we had a house, and we did the small but big impact projects like painting and painting some more. Each room was a different color, which had been my dream. Sage green, pale yellow, soothing grey, a lavender guest room! We bought second hand furniture and inexpensive art to fill every space with interest and variety, to feel like ours. And it really did. I gardened and coaxed our weed-filled back yard into an oasis, learning so very much and loving the process.

Greg, as he did before and has since, worked as a software engineer. His job was in Wilsonville, a twenty-minute commute on a good day. On a bad one, when a bridge was up (Hello, Willamette River), it might take an hour and a half. Bye-bye hot dinner or any plan for week night movie rentals (walking to Hollywood Video!!). The worst bit, since it was pre-cell phone days (They were expensive, so we were very late adopters), I never knew if he was okay. I dreamt aloud about him working from home, how amazing that would be, and he was rather blunt in his assessment that it would never happen. How glad I am that he was wrong about that, now on year eight of 100% at home labor.

I worked for the City of Portland, at the Bureau of Housing and Community Development, nearly, if not the lowest person on the totem pole. I had kindly co-workers, and the pay was decent, but I had my Master’s in Education, earned before we left Colorado, and was eager to put it to use. Unlike now, it was not the time for new teachers. Jobs were very, very scarce (unless a body had experience coaching sports), and every time I was hired, it was only to fill a temporary gap. I got additional education, so I could teach English or French or both, and that made my prospects only moderately better. I would not get steady teaching work for another five years. Then it was as an adjunct at Clark College, making waaaay less than I did when I taught for a single year of high school (going between two schools – gap filler!).

We were young and happy and adventurous, growing as a couple, learning how to be better to ourselves and each other. We walked and biked and drove all over the city and really fell in love with Oregon and Washington. The cats were healthy and playful and young (Hello in heaven, you two!). We thought we’d found our forever home on that sweet corner of Portland, never imagining we’d leave in thirteen years.

But we did, and here we are two houses later. In the next twenty-one years, we will move to Taos or some other quiet town with good medical care and an organic grocery, live in our likely final dream home (gotta stay open), be surrounded by another xeriscaped oasis, enjoy a little veggie patch, maybe have another dog, a smaller pick up without breaking my back size, and continue to love each other, in bigger and better ways.