I have lived in Oregon for 15 1/2 years now, a quarter of my life. I lived the other 44 years in California, mostly San Jose. My roots go back to the 1800s there. I love the Oregon Coast. I love its natural beauty, its attitude, its friendliness, its slower pace. The weather can be brutal, but even the snow, wind and rain are beautiful in their own way. And yet, as I watched the National Figure Skating Championships, being broadcast from San Jose over the weekend, every time the announcer said “San Jose” or I saw it written on the side of the rink, something chimed inside me. I longed for shots of the area outside the building and scanned the crowd for familiar faces. The building they were in hadn’t even been built when I lived there. Downtown has changed so much I’d get lost there now, but Santa Clara Valley holds so many memories and so much of my history. I yearn for the sun-browned oak-covered hills.
I still feel “Saudade,” a feeling of longing and loss that I wrote about in my latest book, Shoes Full of Sand. It’s a Portuguese word, common among those who left their homeland for a new life in the United States. We only moved from California to Oregon, but the feeling is the same. Now, with my husband gone and no family here, perhaps it would make sense to move back to San Jose.
But would I trade my big quiet yard with its alders and Sitka spruce for a much smaller space surrounded by people and noise? Would I trade my open two-lane roads for freeways full of cars creeping along bumper to bumper? Would I trade the friends, the music, and the long walks with Annie for the crowded craziness of “Silicon Valley?” Would you?
Much of my family is gone now, died or moved away, but I miss those who remain in San Jose. It’s time for a visit. And then I’ll come back to Oregon, where on the way home from an interview, I can stop to enjoy scenes like the one above on the beach in the Taft district of Lincoln City. After days of storms, the sun had come out, and I just had to stop. Beats the freeway, doesn’t it?