Flight Or Fight
I cared for my parents from 2006 until 2017, and I cry a lot, like every day, when I tear up and brace the flood gates from opening. If I envision my mother on her death bed, me at her side performing a death watch, then there’s no chance in hell I’ll keep the tears from running down my cheeks, dripping off my chin. I get choked up when I visualize my mom in a state of departure.
It took my father 18 years for his body to deteriorate to the point that his internal organs began to shut down, and he gulped his last breath three days later. Bedridden from a brainstem stroke, he could only move his eyes, blink, and make an occasional guttural sound. His mind was trapped inside a body that couldn’t move. He survived if that’s what it’s called, for 18 years in a bed. Tubes going in and out of his body kept him in that condition.
My mom went fast, less than two years since she had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. I had a full plate caring for my mom, which didn’t leave any time to get emotional about the situation. I became heart-wrenched after she passed in 2017, and I’m still grieving. The emotional trauma I experience triggers a flight or fight response.
I don’t need to fight my memories into suppression; instead, I need to be at peace with them, to accept them as experiences that embolden my character as a daughter who honors her parents every day.
Road Trip: 2019.05.21
I had gotten on the road for five hours to do what I used to love, taking road trips with no particular place to go.
I needed drive time to sort things out. I had felt an enormous wave of change coming my way.
The skies above me and Fiona (my beloved truck) darkened with grey clouds, the road had called for me that week, and I accepted the invitation to point Fiona in a direction. I had been studying a move to the Oregon Coast.
To the Coast, She Said.
I got Fiona on U.S.Highway 26 heading West to get on U.S. 101 North which would take me through Seaside and Astoria, two places where I’ve saved properties on Zillow. I had my camera gear to continue my theme of making shots inside forests, woods, and waterways.
I’ve driven Highway 26 hundreds of times, taking note of rest stops, vistas, and points of interest without checking them out. I had pulled into the Sunset Rest Area (milepost 28.6) and found a bit of Oregon paradise. I parked to treat my ears with the sounds of stream water babbling over mossy rocks.
I had spent 30 minutes taking shots of flowers, stones, and stream water flowing through an obstacle course of rocks and fallen branches, but the trees highlighted the scene, gnarled, whose trunks were green and mossy, the kind that channels Poe stories.
I had told myself I would return with audio gear to record the birds, creek, and trees if there’s a breeze passing through the canopy of limbs and leaves. Yep, it’s still on my list as of September 2021.
My road trip didn’t disappoint as I had crossed over Youngs Bay into Astoria. Once on the other side, I pointed Fiona towards the east to Oregon 202, aka Nehalem Highway, which meanders alongside Youngs River.
I had remained on Oregon 202 through logging country in the Clatsop State Forest, stopping to capture the scene at the Jewell Meadows State Wildlife Management area where Elk herds congregate. Still, no sightings of the benevolent animal were to be had. I continued on 202 and turned onto Oregon 103 to take me through Grand Rapids, returning me to U.S. 26 East and home.
I had no idea that that road trip planted a seed in my mind.
She Moved Into the Woods
I had embarked on a life-changing journey in June 2019 to Birkenfeld, Oregon.
My emotions compelled me to move forward in life, paving a path to healing, rejuvenation, and salvation.
The transition from suburbia to a rural community had challenged me. I didn’t detest suburbia; instead, I loathed the machinations generated by the general population: noise pollution, the tensions placed on society neutering civility, and behaviors undermining fundamental, human decencies.
I had outgrown what city life had to offer, and it was time for me to move to a place where I could experience peace, tranquility and enrich my life. I had dreamt of awakening to the sounds of forest murmurs, wildlife, and the stillness of time.
I felt like I’ve returned to a place where I belonged—home, in the woods at the lake.