If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you are lucky enough.

When something bad happens, you have three choices: let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you.

The purpose of life is to discover and develop your gift. The meaning of life comes from sharing your gift with others. - David Viscott

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Portland, as sweet as ever.

Every time I get off the plane in Portland, I cry. In fact, I start tearing up as I fly over with views at Three Sisters, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood, then get outside - and there is air...You see, Texas has no air. You can't breathe when living in Texas, but you kind of adjust and forget how it feels to fully inhale. And then you do - and all emotions overwhelm...

It's been a whirlpool, but when is it not. However, this trip was one of the best, and a lot of it is due to my attitude, some mind changes for the way I view what my kids choose to do with their lives, and for the fact how I appreciate my friends deeper, stand a little taller, and running, while a huge part of my life, is not all-defining.

...This week is crazy here, back in Austin, 4 days before next trip, 2 full time jobs 8 am to 8 pm, window replacement in the house, coaching, and squeezing in at least 1 yoga and a massage, so I will have to be brief, as sad as it is, because I have a lot to say.

My flight was delayed, so I couldn't make it to the Gorge Friday morning and see Ronda, and went straight to see Mike Bushwhacker Burke at the coffee shop, where we chatted for half and hour, and headed down to Forest Park to see Gail (who drove from Bend just to see me!). Three Musketeers were back together...for a walk in the park and a nice talk:) But, since neither one of us is racing and training as a life-consuming agenda, we talked work, kids and some politics. I love these two, but have to admit, three is a crowd for me, I planned to see each of them separately, because the conversations get much deeper and meaningful when one-on-one. Well, there will be more visits...

I ran out quickly (too quickly) on them, because my younger son Stephen got himself into town from school - and mommy's duty called. Some grooming, some feeding, picking up the older, Alex (who broke his back a day prior and was in the hospital picking up some pain killers - not too serious, just a  crack, though painful), short visit with my Russian friend Anna (who works by hospital)...more feeding, shopping, and then taking them all back to their places.

Finally, the evening came, and my adopted family of Monika and Stan (who literally saved me when I was going through divorce back in Portland and nourished me back to life) were happy to see me with enough daylight to have dinner and wine and chats (and no sock sorting! It's an insider's thing).
Saturday morning (thank God for being on Central Time Zone) came - and I was off to the Gorge. All alone, no plans to see anyone, and nobody hopped on - and that was the best decision I made (I made a lot of good decisions this trip). Entering the Gorge area as the sun lit the horizon slightly threw me into such an emotional disaster, I almost turned around, as I drove crying...But I didn't, thankfully, and went for my staple route of 10 miles, the long climbs, the views, the stops at certain points and yelling "Good morning, Gorge!"...and then quad-busting descends (which proved, while I am still natural, I surely lost the conditioning...). It was magnificent. It was the best trip to the Gorge out of all my visits to Portland in the last 5 years.

I made it much quicker than I anticipated with my non-training self, and had plenty of time to get back to Monika's house (where I stayed for the weekend), shower, and head out to see Amy S. - some local cafe, some good conversations, and yarn from Peru from her for me!

Since my dear "children" have a tendency to meet with me later in a day - what actually works for me to do lots of other things and see my best friends - even after spending an hour and half with Amy, I still had time to enjoy solitude with the views...as I decided to drive to the highest point on Terwilliger Blvd (where local Chart House restaurant is located), and where you can look down on the city - and look ahead at the absolutely breath-taking view of Mt. Hood. I was blessed with a clear day...and I cried, yet again. 5 years, at least twice a week, I ran by or power-walked by this place on my way to or from work (the road ends with OHSU, the hospital and University I worked at) - yet, while I did sneak peeks to the side, I never, ever, really stopped and sat down and just absorbed...This day, I had a full hour to do just that.

Finally, time to pick up Alex and go get Stephen for more mommy time. Both looked far better, cleaner and happier. I met with Oleg, and we had a family pow-wow, which ended up in a decision of Alex moving back with the two of them (at least for a bit, while healing his back). Some more shopping, more feeding, collecting Alex's belongings from his buddy's places...more often than not I feel like a driver with my kids, but then again, every parents does, right? We even stopped by the local Yarn Store - The Best I had seen so far - and I walked away with a full bag! My soul was in peace now:)

Time to get back to the house and have dinner with my adopted family - and that was a total blast, and I felt loved, so loved...since I don't have my family from home in this country, my Portland peeps, the closest people in life to me, are the ones who make me feel right, as a big extended family they are. And guess what? They took me to their favorite place (and where their daughter Marina works) - a Mexican joint! Flying from Texas to Oregon - to eat Tex-Mex! Oh, well:)

Sunday was as packed if not more with activities and friends - because I had a privilege to participate in James Varner's event Beacon Rock 25k race. James and I go back 10 years ago, when I just moved to PDX, went to my first race in WA in October of 2004 (which I won - and his best friend and he directed) - and we car-pooled and shared rooms for years. He also put his first try at the "designing a wicked course" with a Fat Ass in Capitol Mountains - in February! - a 50k with 13,000 feet of elevation GAIN, and only he, I and Kyle Skaggs (The Kyle of Hardorck) made it through (the snow, the peaks, the craziness). So, I felt the need to see what he does as an official director (he is running a full race-events company in WA for the last 3-4 years), visit with a hundred of my friends at once, and visit Gorge (on the other side) trails once more. It was a blast!

There are over 60 photos that I took while in the race (and I'll put a link at the end of this post, please check them out, the views don't suck!!!), and that was my agenda - that, and to utilize my natural ability to power-hike like there is no tomorrow (and pick peeps one by one) on steep climbs (not on mellow ones, where folks run, and I still walk these days), bust down on steep single track with leaps that can make anybody jealous and enjoying my God-given gift of downhill (I literally felt close to God and almost chocked up, and that is me, former Soviet talking) - and pick more runners (but not on slight declines, those I hate), chat with runners I remember from the days - and who still remember me! - absorb the views, the trails, the air, the sunshine, sweat, drink, bonk once the flat sand rolling terrain came about at mile 11 and lasted for the full 2 miles - and where a dozen or so runners past me, whatever! - and then slowly pick the pace as the downhill was getting steeper, time be damned, just run, happy, never wiping a smile off my face...legs quiver some, something that I shouldn't feel until mile 50, but here I am, and I am loving it, it's a good feel...And then a finish, lots of hugs and talking, and a pizza made from scratch at the spot. Heaven is mountains, friends and sunshine!
And then it was time (after a shower and food at Monika's) to go get Stephen...because despite my uncertainty, it happened, he was graduating from High School, he was getting a HS diploma, one of my whacky kids was...and that was a happy moment. There was some miscommunication with Alex, who ended up going on his own with a friend by public transportation - and never made it, was lost, delayed, stuck in various traffic...- and that made for a lonely feeling of an immigrant of the country, when every family around us had 4-8 people cheering the kid in the gown, but I was there, Stephen was smiling, and the whole trip was worth this moment. Whatever happens after - at least this he had achieved, and I hope he looks back at it and basks in glory. No, my kids are not of the kind parents brag about in every social media - no high grades (even though both have huge potential), no sports accolades (even though they are super-fit), no fancy college acceptance letters (or any college), no jobs with kudos...all of it was, but no more, not right now...Yet they are my kids, my flesh and blood, and through all this we maintained a relationship I can be proud of. One thing I am proud of. The way we feel about each other. I take what I can get. And I will continue to cherish it...

And that was it. The ending was crumbled, I had an overnight flight to catch, didn't know my way around downtown (yes, I know, 5 years in Portland, and the only roads are knew were the ones going to Forest Park trails, Columbia River Gorge trails, my work and my friends), couldn't find Alex to at least re-unite the brothers for the trip back home (they both made it safely to Portland suburbs), got to the airport - and with a sleepless night was at work by 9 am, then second work for the evening, and crashed dead at night...

And twas is my life. High in craziness, business, emotions good and bad - to come home, to Larry, and exhale deeply. Thank God he is in my life, my rock, my stability, my slowing down and allowing feelings to sink in, to be processed, to renew - and to be ready for life, again.


Photo by Bob Beast Lynes. Yes, I was getting ready to give him a kiss.


Carilyn said...

Olga, huge congrats to Stephen! It is so gratifying, and a little sad, that are kids are now adults, isn't it. I can feel happy and sad all in one breath :)

I'm glad you had such a wonderful trip to Portland!

Sarah said...

It was great to see you! And you can tell from the pictures it meant the world to Stephen to have you there. :)

Ric Munoz said...

I really enjoyed reading this, Olga. Your sons are so fortunate to have you for a mom. Thank you for sharing and I hope you get a chance to go back to Portland for another visit very soon!

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