The path in the distance

This is a picture of Laurelhurst Park. I grew up in the Laurelhurst neighborhood in Portland, and I spent a lot of time at this park. It was far enough away that it was a most-of-the-day walking bag-lunch field trip from the local grade school when I was little, and it was a real badge of independence to be allowed to go there by myself when I got older. About ten blocks away, I figure.

It's a good thinking all alone park, and it's a good date park. Although we did used to go to the duck pond with stale bread to throw out to the ducks as a family, and although I did go across the street to the play area when I was little and then again as a young adult for some volleyball or utterly insane swinging on the swings, what I really loved doing in Laurelhurst Park was just wandering around on the paths. (Portland has gorgeous city parks. 37,000 acres of open space in that city.) I grew up in paradise, apparently. At the time, though, it just seemed like home. I could spend hours and hours walking in our neighborhood, in that park, all the way to the Hollywood Library and back, up hills and down them, around the paths in the parks and all the way around the outside of the park just to walk the circumference of it. See all the trees? The sloping ground? There were lots of places to come 'round the corner of - lots of ways to anticipate and not know what was next. I think that's part of its attraction for me. Out on the wide open path, the shelter of the trees makes a comfortable privacy for thoughts and ideas - or for private conversations.

Years later, when I had turned into a wife and a mommy, and we still had just the one baby, we drove between Escondido, California, where we were in school, and Lake Havasu City, Arizona, where there lived an aunt and uncle. In that hot car, on that hot desert road, we came up over a rise one time, and I nearly burst into tears of exhausted panic. (It wasn't even that long a drive!) But I could hardly believe my eyes! There, stretched out in front of us was



For miles and miles and miles and miles, I could see it. I could see where we were going to be hours from where we were then. I could see the future! And it was NOT pretty. There are people who love the desert, but I am not one of them. Nossir. I am strictly a trees and paths and hills in the way sort of girl.

This past week, the federal financial aid forms have been sent that will (God willin' and the creek don't rise) get me back to school. I've also had some conversations with people at the main library regarding some changes coming for the subs in the system, and I've also begun to send out my writing in my hope of being paid for it one of these days. Because of all of these things, a familiar feeling has come back to me again. I got to thinking about what my life might be becoming, and now I remember. I have begun to feel myself to be back in Laurelhurst Park. It seems that I am out of some sort of desert at last.

I can't see where I'm going to be in a few years any more.

Possibilities loom, and all I can see from here is the tops of trees and the edges of bushes and the bends in the paths. I like the park. I like this bit of life. I like not quite knowing what's around the next bend, and taking my time to get there. I love every fallen leaf, and every bit of mud in the grass. I love the strollers and the babies in them and the parents pushing them, and I can even love the joggers if they're in the park. The path is about to present a few more options up ahead a little ways. I really love the park.

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