Coming Back Home

Dear Liza,

Yesterday you and your Daddy David drove me up to San Jose so I could fly back up here to Portland. Grandpa Nelson has surgery this week and I want to be here. There are papers to sign, of course, but I also want to keep him company and make sure he is comfortable. Auntie Bridgett has been taking such good care of him, but I miss him.

The Minetta Airport at San Jose was monumentally crowded. It was a full hour from when I walked in the door to when I pushed my carry-on bag through the x-ray machine. The TSA agents kept opening up new loops of lines, like at the Pirates of the Caribbean on a summer afternoon. Those of us feeling like we were going to miss the Portland flight bonded in line.Weird sculpture at San Jose

Flying into Portland was wonderful. The Spring weather had been warm and sunny all week, but changed to welcome me home with heavy grey clouds and quite a pelting rain. Seeing Ross Island and the bridges on the Willamette let me know I was back. For unknown reasons, we flew over the west hills rather than around the east side of the city, so I enjoyed a very different view.

Then Auntie Bridgett and Grandpa Nelson met me and we hugged and walked, and walked and hugged, to get my suitcase. I brought home books and other things that are heavy but I won’t be needing my last four weeks in Salinas. It will make packing in June easier, I think.

Then, we were home! My new house on 33rd, which I first saw on the Zillow website in January when my two people started looking at it. When I was here last, in early April, there was no furniture except the piano. It was our house, but it wasn’t a home yet.

But these two wonderful people have been working so hard! Furniture is in, IKEA bookshelves assembled and loaded, and the new couch from Dania gives us a three person sized place to hang out and be together. All the necessities of life have been put away in their proper places.

However, I still don’t know where those places are. At breakfast this morning, I asked every time I needed something. “Sweetie, where is the cereal?” “Where are the tissues?” And I know that just about the time it feels familiar, it will be time to return to Salinas and my Other Life.

Speaking of which, I am realizing why these transfers from Salinas to Portland have felt so jarring. It’s not just that I am in a different place, it’s that I need to be a different person. The expectations of me in each city are very different. As Mrs. Drueding and Grandma Judy, I am endlessly cheerful, patient, and able to adapt my needs to whatever is required at the moment.

Other people’s schedules, arrangements, meetings. Five phone calls in one lesson? “Hello, Room 10”. Watching the kids in the back row passing notes during a math lesson, deliberately NOT noticing and deciding what to do about it while keeping the lesson going? Make it work and keep smiling. It is stressful. It is exhausting. It is why teachers go home wrung out every afternoon.

And of course, in Portland, I am not Mrs. Drueding. I am Judy in the next to the end house. I am Mouse’s other mommy. I am that woman hunkered over old maps of the city at the Historical Society Library, working on a story. I am part-time Grandma Judy to Cousins Jasper and Kestrel.

I have a different life here. And I will have fun living it for a week.

Love,

Grandma Judy