The original title I had written for this post was “On Moving to Vallejo”. But as I am currently sitting on the floor of our bedroom, the contents of our apartment stuffed into two storage pods parked outside, on our final day in the city that we moved to three and a half years ago, what feels most relevant is that to actually move to Vallejo…we have to leave Portland. And we love Portland.
I should back up. Remember that long post I wrote about our search for a house to rent in Portland, how I fell in love with one last December that we came very close to getting, but didn’t, and it left me feeling kind of defeated? Well, it’s a good thing someone else rented that perfect house with the yard on Ramona Street, because in January, Joe was given an interview for a PA school in Vallejo, California. It was the last school he had applied to, almost as an afterthought. With just 44 seats in the class and 250 people interviewing, we knew it was a long shot, but we also knew it was possible. That this could be his chance.
After a two-week process in which we conducted mock interview after mock interview in our living room and strategized answers to every possible question we could think of, Joe flew to California with a stack of flashcards, his suit, and a new pair of dress shoes. I said a few prayers to whatever Gods might be listening and hoped, hoped, hoped. We’d gone for dinner with our friend Sam two nights before and when we told him the odds that Joe was facing, he said, “But they invited you to interview. They must have seen something in you from your application. So the opportunity is there.”
These words stayed with me, and when doubts cropped up, I clung to them, and reminded Joe of them. The opportunity is there.
The letter from Touro University arrived on a rainy Portland Saturday nearly three weeks after his interview, and by then we were 99% sure he hadn’t been accepted, as he’d been told they usually call the students they accept, and we had heard nothing. Assuming it was a rejection letter, he didn’t open it right away, but I noticed the envelope was thicker than a classic one-page rejection, and said, “You might as well open it.” The next words to come out of his mouth were, “Holy sh*t, I got in.”
Turns out, the official motto for Vallejo is: City of Opportunity.
It’s these kind of coincidences that resurrect my faith in destiny.
On June 27th, we’ll be pulling into town (after a month of travelling) to start our next chapter. More to come on what kind of opportunities await us in Vallejo, but first…leaving Portland.
Joe I were living in Korea in 2011 when we decided that Portland, Oregon would be our next home. We moved here in the fall of 2012, soon after getting engaged, neither of us having been to the city before. (We’d both heard good things.) While living here we thought it was very likely somewhere we would spend the next five or even ten years. It’s the kind of place that makes it easy to love. You walk along the streets on a spring day and know that no matter what is going on in your life, what challenges you might be having or what dreams you are quietly striving toward, you are lucky just to be here.
I purposely haven’t written about our move until now because although we are very excited about this next stage of our path, I wanted to stay present in Portland for as long as we were here, including on the blog. (Well, I meant to write about it a little sooner than now…but, you know, PACKING.) I wanted to spend my remaining time appreciating the apartment we live in, the streets of our neighbourhood, the friends we’ve made. The roses are blooming in front yards and I’ve been stopping as I walk by, and breathing them in. This city is growing quickly; lately I overhear conversations almost daily between people who have just arrived. We are leaving, it feels, just as a giant wave of people are descending. And Joe and I are going somewhere smaller —Vallejo’s population is under 120,000. But it’s also just a 40 minute drive (or 1 hour ferry) to San Francisco, and 20 minutes to the Napa Valley. It has hills and palm trees and a lot of sun. When we visited in March it felt quiet, but promising, and moving there feels like a natural next step.
When I was 17 and saving for my first trip away, to Europe, I had the distinct sense that my future friends were already out there…I just had to find them. It turned out to be true, and this has provided all my moves since with a sense of trust.
Today we drive to Seattle to stay a night with my friend Josh, who I met 18 years ago on the boat docks in Eilat, Israel. His home is the first stop on our ‘transition trip’: A month-long excursion that will take us from Seattle to Bellingham, Vancouver, Victoria, and then camping down the Oregon and California coasts. As of August, for the next two and a half years, Joe will be studying to become a physician assistant. The program he is taking is a double masters: PA as well as Public Health. Needless to say, he will be focused, and life will be full. So the next month is our time to enjoy what we love most: travel, nature, friends, family, and just hanging out together in beautiful places.
Portland, you have been a huge stepping stone in my life. I am grateful, and I will miss you…especially, always, our friends. (Thank you, thank you.)
People have asked recently, “What will you be doing while Joe is in school?”
I just smile and say,”I’ll be writing.”
The opportunity is there…