I wake before anyone else and take a walk by myself. I love those days when I start my day with a walk. No shower, no coffee, no breakfast, no lounging around the house; just put clothes and shoes and go walking. My mind is in a beautiful place from a good night's sleep, calm and content, uncluttered by the ten thousand things that clamor for attention throughout the day. Here, in the country, along this country and down this gravel road where I walk, I am a letter of peace inside the envelope of silence, sealed, waiting to be sent into the day that awaits me. It's a good place.
Back at the house, the others have woken. Josh is mowing the lawn. Jenny is cleaning the counters. Nathan is organizing the deck. Stacy is putting items in their proper place. They are hoping to sell this house, a beautiful house they have lived in for eleven years, and are getting it show ready for a potential buyer who's viewing it this morning. This house that they bought eleven years ago as a collective experiment, living with several other friends and family, those friends and family eventually moving out to pursue other way of living, their own paths. This house where Ezra was born and raised. This house where Finn was born and raised. This house full of memories. This house full of living and loving and learning and laughing. And yet, now, a house that no longer suits the needs of the adults who live here. The commute into the city has become too long. The ample space and maintenance too much. We change. What we want from life—what we need from life—changes. And so, Stacy and Josh and Jenny and Nathan, the remaining adults of the Venetta House hope to sell it and we need to be out of the house by ten.
Not a problem: Stacy and Jenny are going to Mary Jean's bachelorette party at a winery. Nathan and Finn are taking a walk together somewhere. Josh, Ezra, and I are also taking a walk along the Willamette River. What I've enjoyed about this journey is I've gotten to spend time with everyone one on one and everyone in various combinations. Josh and Ezra right now, for example, and after we drop off Ezra at his grandma and grandpa's Josh alone as we walk to the Farmer's Market, buy pad Thai from a food booth, an Oregon beer for Josh and an Oregon Gris for me, and sit at a table in the hot sun and enjoy each other's company as we talk to each other.
Back at Josh's parents' house, Josh's dad, Leroy (Josh calls him Leroy rather than dad) is pouring beer he's home brewing into bottles and Ezra is fastening the cap to the bottle with a handle lever contraption. It's grandson grandpa bonding time through beer making Oregon style. Leroy is the Spoden I know the least well. From what I can tell, he's a good man. Raised a good group of keeps, kept a wife of four decades, bikes to work every day, eats primarily organic, brews his own beer, enjoys spending time with his family, and in the later part of his life, his sixties, moved from Minnesota to Oregon to be closer to his children and grandchildren and reconnect and connect with them in ways he couldn't have if he were still living in Minnesota. I admire that. I admire anyone who can make a big change like that in life. It's not easy. Change isn't always easy, even when we want it. To relocate half way across the country can be difficult. To uproot yourself and to plant yourself in new ground makes you wonder if your roots will take and you will grow healthy and strong and produce the bounty of your growth. From what his children have told me, Leroy has rooted himself and grown into a strong organic man. May all of us who wish to uproot ourselves and grow somewhere else have the same successful growth.
Ezra eats his pad Thai and I take over as beer brewing assistant, pulling the handle of the bottle attaching contraption. I'm sure it has an official name, shorter than my clunky description, which would never win for best marketing name.
Oh, and Josh is shirtless. Apparently, hot and slightly sweaty from our walk to the Farmer's Market, he's taken off off his shirt and is walking around the apartment shirtless. Let's just say this: a six pack, no body fat, solid pecs, and a face like Ryan Gosling's. I've got a bit of a man crush on Josh, as do most men, gay or straight.
Josh's shirt back on, we head to a birthday party of one of Ezra's classmates. Josh tells me that a lot of the kids from Ezra's class will be there and there parents and that he thinks I will like his friends. In fact, he wants me to meet them. I like that about friends who have friends and they're proud of their friends and want to introduce me to them and think I would fit in with those friends. This sort of social situation is completely comfortable to me where I know virtually no one but am certain that because they are friends of a friend that I will find them intriguing or interesting and have easy and enjoyable conversation with them. Sure enough, I do. We talk about a wide gamut of topics from organics to education to spirituality to marijuana. This is Eugene, after all. Nathan and Finn are also at the party. It's the first time I've gotten to talk to Nathan since arriving at the Venetta house. We stand at the sink in the kitchen, he drinking a beer, I drinking a gris, and discuss organic agriculture in Oregon.
After the party, we drive back home. Yesterday, Jenny grilled a chicken and so we have left over chicken which we heat up on the grill. There's kale and potatoes to go along with it. Nathan puts Finn to bed. Stacy and Jenny come home, and tired, head to their beds for beauty sleep they really don't need. Josh and I sit outside. He lights a fire in the large urn they have. I ask him he'd like to play guitar but he says he doesn't know how to play. We talk about his brother Waylon's creativity with guitar playing, lyric writing, and singing. Josh mentions that Nathan plays the guitar and I should ask him to play. So I do. Josh calls it a night and Nathan brings out his guitar and “some really good stuff from Oregon” and I get a one man show with a fire in front of me, millions of stars above me, crickets filling the stadium with applause, and a happy high. The song he sings is Wagon Wheels, which he recently sang at his sister's wedding, and reprises tonight. It's tender and vulnerable, hopeful and pleading, pleasing and promising. Song over, Nathan puts his guitar in its case and we talk for a bit. Nathan doesn't wear his heart on his sleeve, and yet, tonight, he opens up to me, lets out some feelings, and that's always a good thing. Maybe that's the benefit of a friend you don't see on a regular basis and won't see on a regular basis: you feel safe and free to share with them things you might tell none of your other friends who are in your life on a more regular basis. We all need friends like that. The friends who we trust so much even if we haven't seen them in a long time that we know we can take out items we've been keeping inside our suitcase of thoughts and emotions for far too long. Those items get heavy to carry and pull behind us. We all need to lighten our load and continue to lighten your load.
Soft and soothing thoughts float through my mind as I spend time in my room after Nathan and I say and hug goodnight. I write in my journal stating basically how happy I am and what I'm happy for. I write a short poem for each of the people in the house—Nathan, Jenny, Ezra, Josh, Stacy, and Finn. I meditate for a bit, and then, I'm tired, and sweet sleep seduces me into his silent embrace.