Sep 26 2010

Belonging(s).

REALITY, MEMORIES AND DREAMS OVERLAP. Deb Hillner

The seasons are changing again. In the past week Portland weather has dallied with fall, winter and summer but never quite the freshness of spring, the flirtatious nature of our most fickle time of year.  Instead the mood has been more the ripening, maturing, the rhythm of established and emerging patterns, routines.

Today it’s a rainy, quiet Sunday.  It’s the kind of day you start slowly over breakfast, reading a book or scanning a newspaper.  A burst of energy follows to set the household in order.  The laundry room hums, kitchen counters are scrubbed, a vacuum is given a spin around the house, trash is collected, pillows fluffed, dogs walked.  Then an eye is cast toward the week ahead.

Noon approaches. In the past I would be right where I am today, in my office.  I would be tidying up stacks of reading, invoices, media proposals, art production elements – doing all the things to ensure a running start on Monday morning and the piece of mind to savor an unrushed, lazy, restorative Sunday night.  This time a year ago Joel would have gone to the gym and returned from the market with armloads of vegetables, salty snacks and bottles of wine.  The TV or the CD player would be turned on in the other room and voices would mingle with the sounds of chopping and cooking, the scent of garlic would meander through the flat.  A rich stew would soon be in the pot, simmering for our evening meal.

A glass of wine deposited on my desk would announce the countdown to lunch and a movie – often a classic, sometimes a thrilling new mystery or a light-hearted comedy, if the week had been somewhat draining.

This sentimental journey of mine began today with dusting.  Every object in my home has a story, a memory.   A bit like my father, I early on assumed the role of Norvell family archivist.  Unlike him, I’ve learned to part with photos, cards… redundant or unused clothing and household items.  Still, even in less than half the space of my former Tulsa house, my collection of material items weighs in at TONS, not merely pounds – ask North American Van Lines. The objects are books, tables, art…  Everything is in its place though none of it selected or chosen to decorate but to amuse, to delight, to commemorate.

When Joel moved out and later when he moved back to Tulsa he took only essentials, leaving even his music collection.

I still qualify as a newcomer to Portland.  My belongings have logged nearly two years here, as have the Whippets; I myself only roughly half that time as business takes me to Tulsa monthly.  Here people do not know of my childhood overseas, they do not know of the over 19,000 hours I devoted to volunteer work for Tulsa arts and nonprofits.  They’ve not witnessed my knack for arranging furniture, events, life… To a degree this helps with the practice of “living in the moment” but I am the sum of many moments, of many encounters, many influences.

“It is important when people enter your home they immediately have a sense of who you are,” Joel said when I asked him why we weren’t dividing up household processions when we separated.

On rainy days, and Portland has its share, I smile as I survey the lush evergreens of the west hills beyond my office window, inhale the cooking scents of a mixture of nearby restaurants, enjoy the feel of the breeze blowing in through open windows and doors that are rarely closed because of the temperate climate, and pause to listen to the sounds of a lively, urban neighborhood 11 stories below.

This city that I am growing to cherish lacks but one thing:  the presence of friends who know me simply by the sound of my voice, the color of my eyes and our shared, intangible memories.