Our friends, Josh & Haley, let us borrow a car while we were in Portland. It was SUCH a huge luxury. Having a car meant being able to do more and get places faster. It also meant having a place to sit down and rest while we were out all day. And they saved us a ton of money since we didn't have to rent a car. So THANK YOU SOOOOOOOO MUCH, Josh & Haley!!!
Driving in Portland was weird for a few reasons:
1. The trees. Everywhere. Big, giant, gorgeous trees! On the freeway!
2. Portland "traffic" is nooooooooothing. Southern California is like its own little mini-world with an entirely different set of definitions for terms like "traffic" and "cost of living." Traveling always reminds me of what a strange little bubble I live in.
3. Bicyclists. Everywhere. Long Beach is a pretty bike-friendly city. We have share rows and plenty of self-righteous fixed gear bicyclists, but we don't have anything on Portland. Bikes own that town.
On our last night, we were both totally exhausted, absolutely knackered. We didn't want to just go to bed early, so we spent the night driving all over the place. Levi took me back to Lake Oswego, and we drove and drove and drove. We drove by the coffee shop he used to love and his old high school. We drove his family's route from his church in Portland back to Lake Oswego. He showed me Tryon Creek State Park. As we drove, he shared memories with me. Most of them were trivial little memories like, "That's where my mom used to buy our bread," and, "I built a rollerblading ramp here." But I loved hearing all of them. I wanted him to tell me as much as he could. I wanted him to fully enjoy this opportunity to remember. I'm lucky. I've always lived in Southern California. I'm surrounded by familiarity and places that trigger memories. Levi doesn't have the same opportunity.
I almost felt awkward sitting there next to him in the car that night, driving past all his memories. Awkward in a good way. I felt like I was sitting next to him back when we first started dating, back when I didn't know so much about him. I felt a little self-conscious about the questions I was asking and how I responded to him. Being there with him unveiled a part of Levi I hadn't seen before. I can't really explain what I learned about him. It was too intangible. But something changed, and I saw him in a different light. I don't want to forget that feeling of newness and unfamiliarity. It made me appreciate him more and love him more deeply.