Memory Monday!

OK, so perhaps “Memory Monday” doesn’t have the ring “Throwback Thursday” or “Flashback Friday” does, but work with me here.

I have a case of the Memories today. Why, you ask? Let me explain.

After driving hundreds of miles along the the most spectacular American landscape I have ever seen, last night Lauren and I reached our final destination: Eugene, Oregon. Since I don’t think I ever properly explained why this was our final destination, please allow me…

Lauren, who was one of the first people I met back in Syracuse 13 years ago and eventually became my roommate, has taken a job in this small, crunchy-cool town way north of Los Angeles where she had been living for three years. Over the past decade she has worked in fashion for companies as big as Forever 21 and Coach, and as indie as Lucky and as niche Everlane. Now, Will Leather Goods—a family-run accessories business born here in Oregon—has lured her to be their head of Merchandising. Big job, small town, super brave move.

Just as I (sorta) did back in January eight months ago—to the day, in fact—she picked up and moved house to settle somewhere new.

And hence the memories.

(Side note: It’s Columbus Day here in America, so all this new settlement is especially apropos.)

As we rolled into Eugene after an epic day driving from Fort Bragg through Humboldt and the Redwoods (more on that another day), the sun shone a vibrant glow on all the colorful red, orange and yellow leaves. There was a chill to the air and a fresh, crisp scent that said: “You are not in NYC or Los Angeles anymore.”

We were thankful for the light, not only because it was a warm welcome to a new place, but because finding her corporate housing unit in a massive complex a bit outside the center of town proved challenging. There were letters and numbers and lefts and rights and odds and evens, and none of it seemed to make any sense. As we curiously cruised up and down Greenpasture Loop Lane, I started to recall my arrival in London…

My cabbie had a cockney accent and was very excited that I’d be working for The Sun, which he had copies of in the backseat. He rattled off names like Gordon Smart and boasted excitedly about his having driven around Michael Jackson’s kids in the past. As London cabbies so charmingly do, he continued to talk my ear off as we passed through town, coming down along the Thames where I soon caught a glimpse of Tower Bridge. I felt excited and overwhelmed—by the cold, the unfamiliar roads and where my corporate flat, let alone this neighborhood Wapping, was located. Eventually, he pulled up outside News International so I could run in to get the key…

Just before giving up and going inside to ask the leasing office, we found Lauren’s apartment and leapt up a set of stairs (Teddy nipping at our heels!) to find a basic, yet contemporary one-bedroom with a balcony and table set for two. Corporate, but lovely and full of amenities.

I struggled to get my three pieces of luggage into the “lift” and then into my flat, which had two front doors—one for fire safety. The space was cold—insanely cold—and I felt like I had stepped back in time to 1987 with all the formica and the ginormous box “telly” sans Sky channels. There was an envelope with bare-minimum instructions about my first day at the office—as opposed to how to work the dishwasher, all-in-one washer/dryer and, most importantly, the heat…

We cased the joint, finding a flatscreen complete with cable and DVR, heat that worked immediately and flatware that came arranged in a sectioned-out caddy rather than just tossed in a draw filled with someone else’s crumbs. There was a folder of instructions about the apartment, the WiFi and more. There was no kettle, though, so Lauren boiled water for tea in a saucepan.

An electric kettle? I thought. How funny. I expected to be boiling water on the stove. That just seemed more “British.” I also found it odd that there was no coffee table, so I puzzle-pieced together two end tables…

On the coffee table by the couch, there were local Oregonian magazines and a piece of pottery. Lauren quickly placed her plants around the space, which instantly made it feel like home. Before I knew it, she had also unpacked her clothes in the closet and her toiletries in the bathroom.

In an effort to settle in, I immediately hung all the NYC postcards and photos I brought from home. I also swapped the artwork over the telly for the one hanging in the lobby of the building. I wanted to unpack all my clothes too, but the absence of hangers and limited drawer space prevented me from doing so. It seemed I needed to get some supplies…

Lauren had to begin work immediately the next day, so we decided to go food shopping and pick up some other necessities. “Just a few things,” she said, grabbing a random selection, which included fresh kale, peanut butter, hand soap, veggie chips, hummus, carrots and yams. She seemed to be roaming the store without much thought or direction. Having driven for the past 8 hours—neurotic doggie, college bud, plants and a month’s worth of clothes in tow—it was clear Lauren was (rightfully) frazzled. Almost jetlagged, even…

After unpacking as much as I could, I headed for Waitrose right around the block. I walked up and down the aisles in a haze, trying to understand why they don’t refridgerate their eggs and whether I needed to get separate softener from the detergent. (The answer was yes, but sadly I didn’t learn that one ’til weeks—and a few loads—later.) Tops on my list was a candle: The place needed an inviting, comforting scent…

“Which scent do you like better?” asked Lauren, who appeared out of nowhere in the massive granola and nut section where I was sampling spoonfuls.

“Wait!” I said, before sniffing both options. “Can I offer you some advice?”

I got back to my flat and immediately lit the candle…

“When I moved to London, I also wanted to buy a candle immediately—and I did, also from the grocery store. Unfortunately, it smelled horrible and I was annoyed that I had spent $10 on a meh candle.”

A day later, I continued to explain, I found more lush options and wished I hadn’t already spent the money on a cheapie one.

It may seem totally silly and frivolous, but Lauren was thankful for my advice and put the candles back. I was happy and honored to help her slow down a bit. As much as I get wanting to feel settled, newness and unfamiliarity is too exciting to rush. We get so caught up in routine and wonder why we get bored. Why we look for new TV shows to watch or new apartments to move into and new albums to buy. Change is good. The foreign is thrilling. It’s why I love to travel.

In essence, all good things truly do come to those who wait. Patience is something I’m constantly trying to embrace. London came for me, and now I’m waiting—or making, rather—new adventures for myself. I know Lauren will find her scent and light in what will seem like no time…

Thanks for the joy ride, Laur. Good luck on this new adventure. X

Lauren and I, early morning along the Cali coast, on the last day of our road trip to Oregon.

Lauren and I, just after sunrise along the Cali coast, on the last day of our road trip to Oregon.


2 thoughts on “Memory Monday!

  1. Lauren couldn’t have asked for a better friend to accompany her on this move. This insight swells my heart with such joy! I didn’t have anyone to help me when I made the “big move” to San Diego. You both are very lucky to have each other. I wish I had someone to help me out in the candle department =]

    PS. That sounds like typical Lauren when it comes to food shopping.

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