I've been telling people that it didn't feel like I've moved to a new state at all last year due to the extremely hot and dry summer that Portland has had. This year, however, is a completely different story.
I feel it. The difference between Southern California and the Pacific Northwest. My body's been in a constant state of shock and adjustment since about last Christmas when the relentless rain and its effects poured down on it. Yes, I feel it. I feel it like a foreigner in a new country.
Being a Korean-American immigrant, I should be well used to those feelings by now, but I don't think one could ever get used to the feelings of displacement. You know what to expect. You're in less shock about them, therefore. But you never get used to them. At least not me.
I've been revisiting my favorite trails in Forest Park with Nike. When I lived up there for a few short months, I had made it my daily routine to run and investigate the trails and the way they link up on this 5,000-acre hill — a fun ritual that came to a halt when I got into a car accident. Even now, driving up there gets me a bit anxious, but I fight it and show up anyway. The reward is so wonderful, it's hard to explain.
I was just up there yesterday with Nike, and noticed that the wet winter has allowed the bushes and weeds to grow in, making the trails much narrower than what I was used to last year. Then I had to pause and marvel at the fact that I've been in Portland long enough now to have places to compare from last year to this. And I was reminded of how my child's mind used to keep a mental almanac of different places in Los Angeles ever since our family moved there from Seoul. The jacaranda tree in the corner of our block is cut down. The empty car lot where I used to roller skate is now a mall. Union Bank building is now a high-rise loft. Wiltern Theatre reopened and now there is a subway station from across where I used to catch a bus to my middle school. Our apartment, along with that gigantic oak tree, has shrunk into what looks like a doll house. Or maybe I've become a giant over the years. How did that happen? My almanac doesn't show that record.
Ever since I've moved to Portland, each day has been a race, a wrestle, a monumental effort to grab the elusive time by the horn and make it count. Whether it counted or not, in the grand scheme of things, I don't know. The fact that we're already in the month of July, and I still seem to be in the thick of a great contention should serve as good indication for me.
These days, I'm thankful for all the marathons I ran in the past. I know that there is a finish line. Whether I get to cross it or not is up to me and what I do right now. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. I didn't know at the time that those races themselves were a training for something else in the future. The future that I'm living now.