It’s been a strange winter this year. Warm temperatures in January had lulled me into a feeling like spring was going to come early up here in Portland, Oregon, but alas, I was duped. The last two days have been full of ice and snow, and while it’s not going to last very long – daytime high temperatures are well above freezing – the mornings have been stunningly beautiful. Clumps of fresh snow are captured in all of the branches, and little budding leaves, and line every thing that’s near-horizontal. Not having to operate a bus in this weather has been lovely, and while I still have concern for the well-being of my coworkers, I’m taking great pleasure in being able to cozy up to this cup of coffee, a lazy puppy, and even lazier boyfriend, in our warm, dry home. I’m very thankful.
It’s been a huge minute since I posted here. I haven’t had much time to gather my thoughts, let alone put them down in any sort of fashion, because my work-life has been totally upended and changed. I’m now a MAX Light Rail Vehicle Operator for TriMet. I’m swinging the handle from stop to go on 200,000 pounds of steel and electricity, winding my way across the alignment that stretches from just about end-to-end of one county, and spills into two more. Since the end of last year, this transition from operating a bus – something I’d been doing for the previous four years and getting better and better at doing – to something so vastly different and far more technical – has been an utter challenge. I’ve had my share of panic attacks, anxiety, and worry, as well as a few moments of bliss and pure enjoyment, while at the handle of my rail vehicle. I’ve gone home from work exhausted and frustrated, but also really happy with my decision to make this kind of move in my career. It is a challenge that I accept and look forward to conquering, all the while learning and growing along the way. I can and will be a good rail operator, someday.
Growth like this is good for the soul. Sure, it might seem small and petty, highly-boring and certainly non-Instagramable, but for me, it’s precisely what I need to keep adding into my life. Growth, change, questioning everything I’ve learned, over and over again, just to expand my thoughts and capabilities. It’s a skill that I cherish, and one that I intend to build upon as I make my way through midlife.
Beyond that, things are going really well with Ray and me. We’ve just celebrated four years of being together, of building a life together complete with our own cat and dog and warm, stable home. We’ve both been taking on a lot of career challenges as of late, and it’s been rather amazing to have my boyfriend at my side to prop me up when I’ve been beaten down. I’ve been trying to do the same for him, and more than once, he’s definitely expressed his appreciation for all that I do. For me, this was the thing that had been missing in my past relationships. Being appreciated, thanked, and acknowledged for giving a shit matters, even if it also makes me feel awkward and dismissive of the praise. I thrive best when I matter, to myself and to others, and Raymond is really, really good at making sure I know I matter.
We are off to Mexico in a few weeks, finally taking a long-needed vacation away from both of our jobs. I can’t wait to share a bunch of photos of us being goofy and sunburnt on the west Mexican coast. We’ve never taken a trip abroad (apart from Canada) together, so this will be quite an adventure for us, and especially for me, given how little Spanish I know. Thankfully, I’m not *that* American abroad, and can quietly respect when I don’t understand something or need to ask for help. Humility and politeness are universal, and I intend on being as gracious as possible. Where we are going is used to English-speaking tourists, so I’m happy about that, but I still look forward to the challenge.
I have a lot more I want to say, especially around the current politics of America, the mess we are in as a country, and more, but for now, as the snow clumps start to fall off the branches, as the grown warms up, as the birds sing, and as Steinbeck looks up from his slumber to inquire about getting breakfast, I think I’ll just keep to myself. Morning time, peaceful and sweet, is something I need to treasure more and more. It keeps me humble, thankful, and grounded. I hope today brings good things to light, and casts out darkness in corners as needed. Good morning, indeed.