our second journey, part four…forest fires to vancouver to puyallup to fife…

…we drove on and began encountering even thicker smoke, ash, and soot. i may have dreamt this or it may indeed have happened, but i think that i was talking to s***h on speaker phone. i don’t even remember anymore. however, i remember that the sky looked funny and the air was thick.

the beautiful forests that i remembered, were on fire. it was an absolutely surreal scene. the road going up the mountain was steep and winding. the sun was beginning to set and the colors we’re incredible, vibrant, and eerie…the smoke played with the sun’s rays and somehow changed the light. 

the lighting and backdrop changed with every turn around a bend and i couldn’t help but to imagine what beautiful photographs i could possibly make with my camera…instead, i made them in my mind. there i was shuttling pets, talking to s***h, and making mental photographs. as i kept driving, i noticed that things we’re moving everywhere. 

not cars or people, but fire and trees…racing and falling and falling and racing. other things we’re moving too…in front of the car ran a doe and then a buck…a family of soot covered quail…a pair of chipmunks…and then something nearly unrecognizable darted out. it was covered in soot and ashy, it had wild eyes, and ran…it was terrified. all i could really make out was a snout and curly short tail…i think that it was a pig. 

i kept driving because i had to get my passenger, a pit bull named asia to her mom in puyallup. as i drove, i found myself saying silent “prayers” for all of the animals and forest creatures. the tears we’re streaming down my face. i just felt so bad and powerless to help them. we just kept driving. it was dark by the time i drove through tualatin. 

i saw the family fun center miniature golf and go-karts. i felt a lump beginning to develop in my throat, as i remembered going there with someone that i used to love. lake oswego appeared and i remembered delivering willamette week newspapers there every wednesday with k***y. it was becoming harder to swallow and i had to work hard to choke back the tears. 

i passed the exit for capitol highway, right after the terwilliger curves, and there she was…my city at night swathed in purple light reflected off of the willamette river. the bridges strong and sturdy joined suburbs to downtown portland…the steel bridge, the burnside bridge, the broadway bridge. i could see the max line running…lloyd center, the old rose garden, the pearl, my old skidmore fountain building, and the motherfucking white stag sign. 

i could barely see to drive. tears were streaming down my face and i began to sob. i approached the green,  i – 5 drawbridge, which connects portland to vancouver by bridging the columbia river. as i drove over the bridge, i saw officer’s row, the old academy building, and the exit off of the freeway to my old home. i lost it…that was my home for twenty years. my dogs we’re within five minutes of me. two of my exes we’re located five minutes west or east. my friends we’re there, my school, my heart. 

i am not going to lie or sugarcoat. it hurt just as bad seeing all that i had lost…(all that was taken from me…all that i love) as it did seeing all that i knew would be lost or taken from me that day that i was put on a train for montana. it fucked with both my heart and my head, but i kept driving until i got to hazel dell. i was going to be sick and stopped at my old mcdonald’s to vomit. i then pulled myself together, walked buggs and asia, and pointed the car toward puyallup and the address that asia’s mom had given me. 

it was 0130, when i pulled up to the puyallup address that i had been given. i texted and called, but asia’s mom was an idiot and gave me the wrong drop off address twice and then had an attitude with me. she finally agreed to come and meet me. i had done her a favor by hauling a huge box of stuff from tahoe with asia and she had agreed to give me one hundred extra dollars. 

she pulled into the parking lot and i unloaded the giant box and carried it to her car. she unloaded asia, put her into her car, and then got in herself. she reached out her hand and said, “here.” she put cash in my hand and sped off. she shorted me the extra money of course, but there was really nothing that i could do about it. i had a room reserved at the fife motel 6, so, we headed to fife, unloaded, and tried to go to sleep at 0330…

more tomorrow… 

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