Oddly enough, I am writing this post about settling in to life in Portland from Iowa City, Iowa.  Yep, we’re back in the Midwest – more on that later.

We’ve spent the past three weeks living with Sean’s very hospitable aunt and uncle, in a suburb rightfully dubbed as “the Gateway to the Gorge” (the Columbia River Gorge).  They sweetly cleaned out the closet and dresser in their spare bedroom, had keys made for us and generally gave us the run of the kitchen and the pantry.  As I told Sean’s aunt on our first night there, it was really great to have a soft place to land.

We tried to show our appreciation to Sean’s aunt and uncle by cooking and baking. I made the dough and Sean made the toppings for a BLT pizza.

And since then, we’ve been doing our best to acclimatize – quickly – to our new city.  Learning which interstates, generally, go where.  Scouring craigslist for jobs and apartments.  Looking up neighborhood names and their corresponding streets.  Getting local phone numbers.  Checking out new grocery stores and popular Pacific Northwest brands of, well, everything.

We found a winner in WinCo. For the Iowans out there, it’s a Food-4-Less style store, so the shopping experience isn’t luxurious. But for the price…!

While there are definitely moments where we feel overwhelmed, far from home (wherever that even is for us anymore!), or just a little out of our comfort zone, we have been reminded, often, of all the reasons we really like Portland and are excited about building a life here.  It’s a really cool city.

Oregon is known for its microbreweries and overall great beer.  This place is right down the street from us!

We also have to remind ourselves that starting over is not a easy thing; to remember, all we need to do is to think back to our first months in Georgia.  So the moments of oh-my-god-what-are-we-doing-here, or oh-I-feel-so-out-of-place-here, we tell each other, are totally normal.

But outside of the minor freak-out moments, we like to think that Portland loves us.  Why else would our first two weeks in the city – an known for his rain and fog – be 70s and sunny every day?  Why else would we have daily, clear, gorgeous views of Mount Hood (a rarity)?  And, best of all, why would we find an affordable, historic, perfect-for-us apartment in our ideal neighborhood, on just our first full day of apartment- and job-hunting?  Yep, we feel like Portland is doing her best to win us over.

Hi, Mount Hood! Sean grabbed this shot on our way back to his aunt and uncle’s suburb from downtown Portland.

Which brings me to why we are here, in Iowa, and not living it up in our new ‘hood.  We took possession of our tiny (but cute!) apartment on Sunday.  We basically dropped our bins and hopped in the car to check out the Oregon Coast with friends.  We spent Sunday night on our loaned air mattress, happy to finally – after almost three years! – be in a place that was ours and ours alone.

We’re in apartment #104 – which also is the street address where I grew up. Another sign? I think so!

And by Monday, we realized that camping chairs and loaned sheets just weren’t going to cut it.  Originally we’d planned to return to Iowa over Thanksgiving, but seeing as neither family is big on that holiday and we have yet to find jobs in Portland…well, no point in twiddling our thumbs.  So at 6:51 a.m. on Tuesday, we were back on a plane to Iowa.

We’ll be loading up our moving truck over the weekend and heading out for our second cross-country road trip this fall on Monday.  This one, however, isn’t going to be leisurely – nope, we’re planning knocking it out over few 8-10 hour days.  By Friday night should everything go according to plan, we will be in our apartment with all our things, ready to really settle down in Portland.

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