“Keep not standing, fixed and rooted,
Briskly venture, briskly roam.”
Beginnings are hard. Hard because they necessitate an ending, and endings are even harder than beginnings. Therefore, I think I’ll start with the ending.
It is the ending of our time in Eugene. Looking back on the decision to come here and our arrival, it all seems comical. Neither of us had ever been to Eugene let alone Oregon. In fact, the reasoning behind my application to the U of O was that a fellow guide in Wyoming had ranted and raved about how much he loved the city. I now know why. And yet, it is not the city itself that we will miss much. It’s not the mountains, the ocean, the acres upon acres of wilderness. Not the art, the music, or even the beer. No, the thing we will miss most about this place is the people. I suppose that’s common. For while we have a tendency to grow connected to places, it is often only due to the people and situations that we inherently attach to them. The people affix us to the landscapes we call home. They enrich our lives in ways we do not expect and that forever leave their marks upon us. And so it was here.
Our first summer here we didn’t know anyone. It got so bad that Lori eventually told me she needed to get away for a bit and sought refuge at the library. Fast forward three years, and our last week is characterized by the fact that we don’t have a single evening when we don’t have to be somewhere for dinner with friends we will be leaving behind.
When we set out for Oregon, I in my youthful ignorance could only think of adventure…breaking the monotony that characterizes one’s life from birth to eighteen. However, I now realize why people do not often move. Not only does it tear at the social fabric that you have so carefully woven over the months and years, but it tears at the heart. It reminds us that we are temporal. For when you leave a place where you have planted roots, you realize that you will most likely never see many of these people ever again. And yet, we cannot allow these feelings to prevent us from living. For that is what they will surely do if we focus only on the ending. Rather, we should live our lives grateful for every second that we are given. We should bask in the joy of a dinner with friends (especially when it involves 10 people in a kitchen the size of a walk-in closet), the spontaneous trips (to Portland or Bend), the late night conversations about life, the moments of jubilation, and mourning…all of these things are more valuable than anything this world attaches value to. In our zeal to live comfortably, we squander these moments.
And so, as we say goodbye to our friends in Eugene; to our family at Garden Way, know that it is not truly goodbye. For even if we never meet again in this life, you are now a part of us. You have built upon the works of those who came before you, and the foundations you have laid will be built upon by those after you. And together, you will have shaped and molded us. Somewhere, many years from now, we will look back on those times we shared together with great fondness. And in our joy, we will be together again.
We are saddened by the end…but within it lies a beginning.