Adventures in Your New Life, Part 4

There is a cat in this suitcase.

The Rental Truck, Part 2

My desk is littered with notebooks on which I scribble phone numbers, names and lists. Endless lists. Infinite lists. I live among lists, scribbles and hungry dogs. And cats.

Trip number 2, back to Tukwila (Seattle), entails the moving of large, very heavy things that First Movers bailed on. The Tukwila house is now a dusty museum of odds and ends. Moving-helpers I talk to on the phone want to know—how big is your house? How many rooms? How heavy is the dining table? But my answer is I don’t really know.

All I can say is that we have a scattering of items, big and small, that must be loaded into and unloaded from a 16′ truck.

I try to look forward. Keep my chin up. This too shall pass. Today, my husband declares, is a day of rest. I’ll try.

The best phone call yesterday came from Penske. The sales person offered me a fabulous rate for the truck. Before this I was struggling with a mind-blowing dollar amount for a truck from U-Haul. One doesn’t expect this from U-Haul. Budget will not be used again by us any time soon.

On this day of rest let me talk about Albany for a while. Albany, Oregon was a lumber town where the pulp mill once scented the air with sulfurous fumes. Timber came on semis from the Coast and Cascade mountain ranges, and left by rail for the big cities. The pulp mill is now a hill of scrap metal and the spidery railway hub is an Amtrak station.

Downtown borders the Williamette River, a major waterway twining through the Williamette valley, then Portland, to pour its big thick life into the Columbia. Ever since the pulp mill closed, Albany has been struggling. Job loss hit hard. Drugs crept in. Home prices dropped.

No body wanted to live here. To the north is leafy Salem, the state capitol. West lies Corvallis, home of Oregon State University, leafy also and the center of trend-setting restaurants and breweries. Eugene, 45 minutes to the south, is the second largest city in Oregon, home to Oregon University (Go Ducks!), arts, music, less hipsters than Portland but just as mod.

Albany just is, a town of 55,000. The downtown area is limping into trendiness but not quite there. We have a Costco and a Lowe’s, Fred Meyers and Target. A Petco. But hip chic has not penetrated. It’s, like I said, a quiet place. Train whistles are the loudest noise we hear, and soothingly sweet to our baby-boomer ears.

No traffic. Parking at Costco! Lowe’s employees who actually walk up to you to ask if you are finding everything.

Our house’s value has increased by more than a third in the four years since we purchased it. So something is happening here. That’s us, though. Buy in a borderline neighborhood. Watch the value rise. Wait for gentrification to swallow us. Sell.

This neighborhood is leafy, bordering a city park and farmland on the westernmost edge of town. Between us and the farmland is a Pacific Power right-of-way. No one can build a mini mansion between us and the land! The town is flat and perfect for cycling. There is a lovely river-walk along the big fat river. And a carousel museum!

So when people ask 1.) Why Albany? and 2.) Where is Albany?, I say, There isn’t any one reason. It just felt right. It’s Albany, Oregon, not New York, and it’s south of Portland–Oregon, not Maine.



About Jill Zeller

Author of numerous novels and short stories, Jill Zeller is a Left Coast writer, 2nd generation Californian, retired registered nurse, and obsessed gardener. She lives in Oregon with her patient husband, 2 silly English mastiffs and 2 rescue cats—the silliest of all. Her works explore the boundaries of reality. Some may call it fantasy, but there are rarely swords and never elves. More to the point, she prefers to write as if myth, imagination and hallucination are as real as the chair she is sitting on as she writes this. Jill Zeller also writes under the pseudonym Hunter Morrison


Adventures in Your New Life, Part 4 — 2 Comments

  1. this series of posts has been fascinating to read – I grew up in Albany, and your new place sounds like it’s in the general neighborhood of my parents’ property. even though I’ve not lived there for decades, I return occasionally to visit relatives and have fond memories of the town. I hope you enjoy your new life a lot!