One year ago this week.
On July 31st, 2011, I worked my last day at Willow Bend, my workplace and home for 8.5 years.
On August 3rd, 2011, I penned a final Facebook update: "So long, Dallas."
I then packed the cats into the car, picked up my friend Noe, and made a marathon drive to Portland, Oregon.
I've only been back to move the rest of my family up, so this is my one year anniversary of moving to Oregon.
I needed to leave. More than I think I realized at the time. I don't think that I could have become the person that I needed to be in Dallas. I don't think I would have been the husband I needed to be, the father I needed to be, or the servant of the Lord that I needed to be.
The Lord has made it abundantly clear to us that He is pleased that Rosa and I moved our family out here.
I love the Northwest. Right now, it fits me like a glove. I thought I'd make a list of the things that I've enjoyed since I've been here, as well as the things I miss from Texas.
Favorite things about the Northwest
1. The Weather
To live in Texas is to live in a land of extremes. Extreme heat, extreme weather events, and extreme cold.
By contrast, Oregon is a land of temperate weather. Oh sure, the summers get warmer, and the winter gets colder, but I can't help but feel that we've stumbled into a little pocket of paradise where we are nice and insulated from scathing climate change that is causing the country to wilt.
"What about the rain, Nate?"
It exists, and when rainy season begins, there is certainly a lot of it. It doesn't blunt the overall paradise vibe though.
Being in Portland is like being in the Nexus of Coffee. In fact, Portland is 2nd only to the mighty Seattle in terms of how much of the population drinks it. Seeing the espresso bars everywhere makes me happy, and getting to share a common drink with my friends around here is great too.
The best part of my appearance is my beard. So it has been great to live in a part of the country that can really appreciate a good beard. At work, I'm no longer the odd man out with a beard amongst a crowd of the clean shaven. I'm just one of the guys.
4. The Topography
I love the coast. I love mountains, lots of trees, rivers, and rolling hills. Oregon brings all of those things together in a concentrated place. I never thought I'd live in the shadow of a hill, not to mention having a coast or a mountain within striking distance.
What I miss about Texas
1. Mexican Food
What they have here that they call Mexican food... isn't. That said, there are plenty of authentic Mexican joints around here (Spanish on the windows and everything). One day I'll be desperate enough for some Mexican food that I'll venture inside.
2. The Freeways
Kind of a mixed blessing. In Portland, I don't have to drive as far to get places. It is more pedestrian friendly, and it has better mass transit. But when you DO need to drive, you need to plot your route in advance because Portland's roads turn and twist all around. Dallas is structured as an easy to navigate grid. If you are lost, it is pretty easy to find your way back to a nearby freeway. Portland, not so much. That said, it's an acceptable trade so that I don't have to spend as much time in my car as I used to.
3. The Alamo
So, Texas has the Alamo. Oregon has the Oregon Trail. Each event makes their respective states very important. That said, no one up here knows what the Alamo is, and trying to explain the significance doesn't turn any heads. There is something about a Texans making a last stand that resonates, and sticks with people who have grown up in Texas. I'm coming to appreciate the Oregon Trail, but I do miss the Alamo.
Anyway, its been a great year. The year has absolutely flown by, and I'm looking forward to see what else the Lord has in store for us.