Adventures in Oregon: One Year in Bend

‘You’ll learn, as you get older, that rules are made to be broken. Be bold enough to live life on your terms, and never, ever apologize for it. Go against the grain, refuse to conform, take the road less traveled instead of the well-beaten path. Laugh in the face of adversity, and leap before you look. Dance as though EVERYBODY is watching. March to the beat of your own drummer. And stubbornly refuse to fit in.’-Mandy Hale

I’m not sure how it happened but I have been in Bend a year…Crazy!!! When I decided to move a over a year ago, I never could have predicted that I would be living in Bend. I had no idea where this town was prior to getting the job offer. Packing up and driving across the country is one of the bravest things that I have done. I had no idea that I would take such a hit financially, emotionally, and mentally but discover so much about myself when I left Philadelphia for the last time. It has been quite the journey!

I have fully embraced the outdoors. I love going on hikes and now that it is getting cooler again (it’s only truly summer in Bend for about a month with 100 degree temps-too hot to go on long treks) and, once school starts back (whatever form that is), less time at the restaurant where I have spent the summer, I can continue to explore all the trails. I feel grounded and love taking photos (be sure to follow all my adventures on Instagram). The highlights have been my trips to the coast and Crater Lake. That so much beauty is so close to me really boggles my mind. I went up to Paulina Lake to check out the comet and saw so many stars and the Milky Way. That I could see the galaxy 40 minutes from my house, there are no words. I’m so grateful for the wonder around me and giving me a moment to just pause and enjoy the journey.

This year has been weird. I never could have predicted that in the six months since my first Bend update the world would turn upside down. I learned that I like not working (ha!) but that being an adjunct is financially stressful. Its funny, I had moments where I wondered what life would be like if I had stayed in Philadelphia but Covid confirmed that I made the right choice. I would most likely be unemployed due to widespread budget cuts and would be faced with the prospect of moving back home in South Carolina. But, I found the best teaching job and am a needed part of the faculty here. It’s funny how things work out even when the world feels like it is on fire. Hopefully, one day, I won’t have to work at a restaurant to supplement my income but, for now, I’m glad that I have a great apartment and a truly wonderful teaching job in Bend.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I have found a lot of beauty this past year. Thank you for following along on all my adventures. So while I have been incredibly open regarding my general anxiety, trials and tribulations, I’m pretty happy. I love that I can hit a trail if I need to get out of my head, that deer wander my neighborhood, for all the stars in the sky, and so much more. With all the heartache, this year has been a year of growth and wonder.

One of the things I realized is that I have a really great support system. I had my heartbroken pretty severely and unexpectedly and my friends rallied around me. My dad listened to me sob on the phone. My brother told me that he was a jerk and I am too good for that. It was really hard, I miss my mom in those moments. I had some points I’m not proud of (don’t text because not getting a response is so much worse) but I’m coming out of it. Being in a new town makes things really hard under the best circumstances and the whole thing mixed with grief of my mom drove me to finally seek counseling. One of the best decisions I have made. So while I have opinions of the person, it pushed me to better myself. In Bend I don’t have my usual go tos of theatre, cities, and concerts so I had to work on personal growth. I also realized that I need to be near a big city…if only Portland was two hours closer-and I don’t even like Portland that much (I only went once and was in a foul mood so stay tuned for a return journey)!

I feel like I have lived an entire life in this past year. I most certainly wouldn’t have gotten through without my core group of friends (Kim, Bob, Kelly, Whitney, Lindsay, Jennifer, Bella, Jenny, Kelley, and Jen). But I’m only doing well because my dad and brother are spectacular. I miss them so much that it hurts but I know they’re cheering me on. I think my dad sees a lot of himself (and my mom) in my pursuit to explore all that life has to offer and, I joke, my brother’s worst nightmare is that I live within five hours of him because he wants somewhere cool to visit. I’m incredibly lucky and I have never taken their love and support for granted.

I’m not sure what the coming year has in store. Ironically my constant long term planning as a coping mechanism for my anxiety is something I am trying to work on with my therapist but I am excited for my Utah road trip in September (finances dependent or it’ll be moved to later in the year) and, hopefully/finally, making it to Philadelphia over the holidays. Other than that, more work,more trails, and more adventures.

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