Sunday, March 11, 2007

impermanence

We went for a drive today, out to Astoria and on up into Washington. I've never been to the places we went. I like Oregon better. I love Astoria. I'd live there. But throughout the drive, I was struck by the deterioration of wood homes. The great old houses of the 21st Century are falling apart. I mean really falling apart. The closer you get to the coast, the truer it is. What the fog and salt air doesn't get, the blackberries do. If you stand still long enough in Oregon, blackberries will consume you. Its a fact. I saw house after house slowing sinking into the landscape, becoming one with nature, tilting, sliding, gravity exacting her payment for time spent. I lived (a relative term) in this house (another relative term) in Inglewood or Inglenook or something. A small coastal town. The house was sinking into Shinglehouse Slough (thus the affordable rent) it did not have windows to speak of, black plastic covered the windows, and we had to hop across log rounds to get to and from the back door. Electricity was questionable. On an incoming tide, water would reach the floor, short circuit the kitchen, and you couldn't stand on the floor and touch the countertops at the same time. So, undaunted, we hopped chair to chair, my four year old son's memory inspired by ECT. But that was a lifetime ago.

We drove through Rainier, the town of, and I asked, innocently enough, where is Mt. Rainier? My husband laughs, is still laughing even now, and says, "Seattle." Well, why the fuck would somebody name a town Rainier if you couldn't even see it from there. And maybe on a non-cloudy day you can, but that is hardly the point. I mean, Portland is a port, and there are other more aptly named places, Ashland, for being at the base of a volcano, maybe. I can't really think of many examples, but I was a little embarrassed. And because we drove past the old Trojan nuclear plant and I said, "I thought that was in Washington," and again, the laughter. But really, if you think about it, when you're driving down I-5 from Seattle and you look off the side of the freeway and there it is, and you know damned well that you're in Washington, and that in a few miles you'll cross the fucking bridge into Oregon, well, anyone would conclude that Trojan is in Washington. But it isn't. Its in the Oregon bump. I will admit to being somewhat geographically challenged. I am easily disoriented. I hardly know where I am most of the time and have no sense of direction, but I always have enough gas and I know for sure that given enough time and petrol, that you can get anywhere from anywhere else.

And back to the impermanence of wood, why is it that eventually, once a house really begins to decompose, the owners paint it purple? I don't think it is a good house color under any circumstance, but when the shingles are rotting, the cattle have long since broken through the fences and gnawed off the windowsills, that a person would think, hey, I know what will give this place a fresh look: purple paint.

But I do love farm country. I love rolling up to a breakfast joint at about ten-thirty on a saturday morning and watch the last call babes having breakfast with Mr. Lucky. I'm mean. I admit it. Only in a small Oregon town would you see the sign: Tanning, Toning and Saw Sharpening. nuff said.


All the way out, a radio station was playing Beatles A-Z. I know this guy who picked Ringo Starr up hitchhiking outside of Vegas. I happened to mention this to my husband who knew Sherman. Sherman Parker was, and may still be, Ruch Oregon's most inert individual. He lived in a shack with a dirt floor, not because it was hip, but because he didn't notice. He did not bathe, that I know of. My husband found it far more difficult to believe that Sherman had ever left the Applegate Valley than the rural legend that he had rescued one of the Beatles from car trouble. Or that a Beatle would have car trouble at all. Sherman is alot of things, but he is no liar. He won't even drive a red, yellow or orange vehicle becasue he thinks those colors are "of the devil." He didn't always think this way, and in fact at one point was so loaded on PCP that it took him 12 hours to crawl from the garage to his house -- a total of maybe 100 feet. Usually it only took him half an hour. :)... but the Ringo story is that Sherman drove to Bakersfield -- for car parts, the only thing that motivated him-- and on the way, passed a blown up van and stopped to help. There was Ringo and some Vegas dancer and he gave them a ride into Bakersfield. It could be true. I, myself, have never seen a Beatle, but I loved them. George most of all. When I was young it was important to say which was your favorite. You had to commit.

So, that was my day. It was good to get away.

1 comment:

L. said...

rich! you are rich and your husband probably feels richer, now, too, having found some crack in your imperious strength of mind over all that probably matters to him. great getaway, for all of us.