Dangerous Liasons

Eyes screwed shut, holding my nose, and jumping off a cliff. I've never even been able to jump off a diving board without panicking in midair and belly-flopping painfully into the water, and yet that first sentence is how I have described several sudden moves I've made over the years. An inveterate tree-climber as a child(see earlier posts), I'm not particularly afraid of heights, but that rush of air past my body reminds me, much too late, that I'm actually terrified of falling.

Which is probably why I've gotten a little more cautious over the years. How cautious, remains to be seen.

My first encounter with the Oregon Coast was in 1985. I had just come out to Seattle, where I met up with an old friend from Green Bay, and we decided to drive Highway 101 to San Francisco.

I fell in love. The cloud forests of Washington are cool and green. The redwoods are lovely, dark and deep. San Francisco is cubism in pastels painted on the hills. But the Oregon Coast, which I saw from the passenger window of my friend's car as we swooped through the snaky curves the highway makes as it follows the waterline, was that from which dreams are made. We crossed the Astoria Bridge in fog rising from the mouth of the Columbia as it meets the Pacific. It runs just above the water, and once you leave the Washington shore, if the fog closes in, you are for all intents and purposes driving on the water. But when you drive out of the fog, the blue Pacific laps the sandy beaches with a white froth. It dances around the offshore rocks and boils up through seaside caverns and potholes in the stony bluffs. On bright blue days, it sparkles. On misty, moisty mornings it is a study in shades of pearl.

Over the years, I have been lucky enough to have made friends with folks who live on the Oregon Coast. Folks I can visit. People from Depoe Bay, Nye Beach, and Yachats.

Folks at Mari's Books. The Sylvia Beach Hotel. Things Rich and Strange. Talented musicians. Beautiful singers. A jeweler extraordinaire.

Dangerous liasons, all. Because now they are inviting me to join them on the Oregon Coast. And they are near to convincing me that it could be affordable. That there is a community there for me. That there is a tribe waiting to welcome me home.

I'm thinking about it. I'm thinking about once more jumping off that cliff. But I won't do it with my eyes closed this time. This time I must be a little more certain. Not that I want to do it. But that I can. We'll see.

But I'm forever grateful to dangerous liasons. Without them, I'd probably never have jumped at all.