Saturday, June 30, 2007

small-town sisters

Two of my sisters have moved to small towns in Oregon in the past year. Last summer, Susanne moved to Hood River, about an hour east of Portland on the Columbia River, to work at her first accounting job since completing the CPA program at Portland State University. Now, Ellen has just moved to Lebanon to become the Lebanon bureau reporter for the Albany Democrat Herald, a daily paper in central Oregon. (Ellen says it's near Oregon State University in Corvallis, so hopefully she'll meet some people her age!) Sisters, I hope you make the most of it while you're there. I know you are city girls at heart, and Ellen, you are a wanderer like me, but there's something to be said about having the experience of living in a small town sometime in your life.

When I lived in Greenville, I knew people who seemed so rooted to the Mississippi Delta that they would never be able to wash it out of their blood. I sort of admired that and sometimes envied it. They had a certain claim on the place that I, as a total Yankee outsider, never could have had even if I'd lived there for decades. I couldn't have done that anyway — stayed in the same place all my life. I would have gone crazy. My blood itches too much for adventure and variety — I left Oregon as soon as I was old enough to go to college. (Now I would welcome the opportunity to move back, and Steve loves Portland, too. But we are pretty well rooted here in St. Paul, and we like it here, too. From April to October, at least!) But it's interesting and enriching to meet people whose families and heritage define the place where they live. Mom and Dad grew up in small towns before moving to the city, and then suburbia, to raise their family. My dad's grandfather was a historical figure in Camas, Wash., where Dad grew up. In fact, I think he founded the historical society. Our aunt and uncle and cousins in Sherwood, where my mom grew up, own businesses there, have worked and raised their families in the same place for generations. Garrison Keillor writes about those families, too, the ones in Lake Wobegon, who care about the small details of their town (and know everybody else's business) in a way that city dwellers cannot, do not. So I think small-town America is a fascinating place to spend some time. But I wouldn't want to live there forever.

5 comments:

Ray said...

I thought Ellen was going to Beirut for a second there. It's supposed to be pretty swanky, but ...

Ellen said...

I think I would rather be in Beirut.

Emilie said...

Aw, Ellen ... having a rough week?

Ellen said...

Just dealing with a-hole cops who can't honor my deadline and keep giving me "we'll get to it when we can" crap when I need info. for our public safety log each morning. I'll get the courage this week to talk with the chief about it and if that doesn't work, I'll tell my editor about it. If he ends up talking to them, I know for a fact they won't mess with me again.
Plus, it's been hard for me to make friends here because I don't have much in common with other people my age. I really miss my friends in Portland. But I'm trying to keep a positive attitude and grow professionally by reading and praying and saving some $.

Anonymous said...

Oh Em, I didn't even notice this post until just now. How nice of you to honor us, because I think Ellen and myself are both itching to be back in our urban comfort zone. Living in a house with a yard just does not cut it for me. But like you said, I need to make the best of it.

And Ellen, the hell that the police are giving you, I expect it would be just as bad at an urban daily paper. Hang in there! It's only 17 months to go.

- Susanne