Some days are just made for reminiscing. Rainy Fall days in Portland are not too rare, but they bring out the introspective souls – of which I am one. As I approach my 50th birthday, it would only seem normal that I would be doing some reflection. Especially since it seems like just yesterday I was living in the 80s and dancing like a Stray Cat.
To celebrate my birthday, we decided to head down to Oak’s Park and do a little rollerskating. This place was a childhood favorite of mine, and a childhood favorite of my Mom’s. I have history there and I’ve wanted to share that with my imported family. Unfortunately, after we arrived, we realized that today was a school holiday and the place was a zoo. So we drove to the otherside of the river and had lunch at the Spaghetti Factory instead (It was delicious!).
From there, we decided to forgo skating for today and go back tomorrow. We decided to make a Costco stop on the way home. As I crested the Sylvan Hill, leaving Portland and entering Beaverton, I decided to stop at one of the fire stations where I used to work, in West Slope, and ask if I could fill up a low tire.
It turns out that the lieutenant on-duty today was an old friend. I used to play hockey with her twin brother and I did some training when she was hired. We just had a great chat catching up with old times, and she got to meet my family. I’m not usually the kind of guy to stop and ask for favors like that (I’d rather pay the fifty-cents and the mini-mart), but today I felt compelled – and brave.
I was so glad I stopped and caught up with an old-friend
I was so glad I stopped and caught up with an old-friend. Plus, I spent three very memorable years working out of that station. While working at that station, I went through my divorce, got certified as a paramedic, and moved into a new worldview. I have some very clear memories of those days.
On the way to Costco, the kids had fallen asleep, so I dropped off The Wife and continued to drive around. The last few times I’d driven around NW Beaverton/NE Hillsboro, I had gotten a little disoriented. When I left the Portland Metro area 13 years ago, that was all forested, wetlands, pasture, and small family farms. So, I turned on the GPS and began to explore.
I discovered that SW Baseline Rd is no longer a narrow, two-lane country-road. It is now a major arterial rivaling some of the best roads anywhere – complete with light rail, high-denisty housing, heavy retail/commerical, and other transit options. I discovered the downtown Hillsboro has been radically transformed with a new civic building and light rail.
Leaving downtown Hillsboro, I took a gander at the Edward Meadows subdivision off of River Rd. I remember when our family friends moved into there, about 35 years ago. What had been farmland, was being transformed by hundreds of spec houses. As kids, we used to see how many of the newly built, not yet occupied houses we could get into. It was easier than you may imagine, and we never broke anything to gain access.
When I was in my twenties, I house-sat our friend’s home while they did worked in Ireland for six months. I drove slowly by the house. It hadn’t changed. Only the trees were bigger. I remembered when there were no trees anywhere around there.
The biggest shock of the day though, was my careful inspection of the NW Cornelius Pass Rd and Baseline Rd intersection. It wasn’t that long ago that I was responding to car wrecks at that intersection – from the TVFR station on 209th and Tualatin Valley Highway. Back then, that area was extremely rural, heavily wooded, and cars would sometimes disappear into the woods and wouldn’t be discovered for days.
Today, that area has been transformed into a high-traffic, strip-mall carnival. One could disappear into that bastion of capitalism and not be seen for weeks. I was stunned.
the constant in our world is change
I guess I don’t have anything profound to say, other than the constant in our world is change. It was cool to be at Oaks Park, Sellwood, the Old Spaghetti Factory overlooking the Willamette, at the West Slope Fire Station, catching up with an old friend, and cruising some areas where some of my life’s story was written.
I have a strong pull in my heart for nostalgia, but most of all it is fun to retrace the paths of where I grew up and grew wisdom. It’s been said that if we don’t learn from our mistakes, we are destined to repeat them. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in the last 35 years (the first 15 are gimmees), but I’ve learned a lot of lessons.
How about you? Are you still learning – or have you settled?