Thank you to everyone who’s following along on this journey of mine. All of your support means a lot to me.
After a little more than two weeks, I am settling in, growing accustomed to the pace of life here. I have a few scattershot observations on differences, which probably aren’t that profound but seemed so to me at the time.
This is probably a difference between every rural area and every well-planned urban center, but for me it’s a difference between the mid-size cities of Central Texas and Portland. Lots of people walk. A LOT. At least half the people I’ve met don’t own automobiles, or if they do own them only drive them a few times a week or only on weekends.
Which makes sense, because there aren’t any parking spaces here. Oh, there are a few, but they’re always filled. I’m more accustomed to cars being a necessity, because nothing is within walking distance of anything else. The old neighborhood where I grew up in Austin had only a corner store within walking distance; any other business must be driven to. Killeen and Harker Heights were mostly the same way.
Here, apartments and streets with houses are almost always within a reasonable walking distance from restaurants, book stores, supermarkets, and so on.
I re-did my math on the bus pass and have decided to sell my car. What I had forgotten is that I’m not making car payments, but will certainly have to save for my *next* car, or begin making payments then. Once I add that, it’s clearly cheaper to get a pass for public transportation.
In two weeks, I’ve lost 10 pounds, which isn’t ALL due to walking, but surely that plays a part.
(Exercise is for health, not weight loss, just to be clear. Your resting metabolism burns *almost* as many calories as when you exercise. To lose weight, you must eat differently, which I am finally learning to do.)
I haven’t seen this many beards since the Civil War. Not that I was alive during the civil war, you understand, but c’mon, man. Nobody needs this many beards. Even tourists here have beards. Big ones, fluffy ones, pointy ones, round ones, bushy ones — basically any kind of beard you can think of except really small and neat ones.
I haven’t given in yet, because (1) I don’t understand it, (2) shaving each morning is part of my “getting ready to face the day” routine, and (3) really, what is the beard FOR? Doesn’t it get in the way? Don’t you get food stuck in there? Won’t it get caught in your jacket’s zipper?
While “The South” is often caricatured as slow-moving, slow-talking, and generally laid-back in general, this has not been my experience. Everywhere in Texas, highway speed limits are 70 mph or higher, and people drive like that in neighborhoods too. Here it’s much slower going on the roads, which is probably a good idea because the roads are narrow and there’s an intersection every 200 feet (literally).
But even the people walking don’t seem to be in a rush, even though all of them have somewhere to be. It all feels sluggish and “chillaxed” to me, which is weird because I was always told that’s what WE were in Texas.
Work is going well. I am indeed the oldest person at the establishment (not counting subcontracted cleaning crew), but no one seems to hold that against me so far.
It’s weird that everyone is white; it might be the first time I’ve ever worked somewhere that *all* employees were white (again, not counting the subcontracted cleaning crew). The city itself is more diverse than my workplace, and so is my apartment building. But on a startling number of occasions I’ve walked into a business and seen only white people. This just didn’t happen in Central Texas. I hope I don’t get used to it.
I am apparently good at what I do and was drastically underpaid for it in Texas.
Though there are multiple churches in the area, I haven’t yet had a person talk to me about it, hand me a piece of paper about it, or the other nonsense that I was getting so tired of in Texas. This part feels like paradise.
So far, very close to what I would be experiencing back in Texas. Forties and fifties, light rain, cloudy skies.
EDITED TO ADD: I forgot to say, my boss looks like a twin of the character David, from the show Travelers — except with a bushier beard. Every time I see him, I think I’ve stepped into a world where time travel is real. Ha.