Having resigned from the USPS, I was back to square one. What would I do for the rest of my life? Of course, performing music (my own, preferably) would always top my list, but I decided to put that lofty goal on the shelf for a while, if only to see if my tinnitus, a constant high-pitched ringing in my ears, might subside (Spoiler alert: It didn't.).
There have been a few times in my life where I took a leap of faith and ended up in a better place. There was no doubt that Raleigh would never be the same for me without the piano bar where I had made so many memories. It occurred to me that if I was going to do something different, I may as well pick a new place to do it in.
My lovely wife Heather is a San Francisco native, and she often expressed fond memories of growing up there. I always knew she had a desire to head back west. I, myself, had often wished to follow the sage advice of Horace Greeley, who once said (I'm paraphrasing), "Your piano bar folded, get out of Raleigh."
After much discussion and research, we decided to move to Oregon. There were a lot of reasons we picked Oregon (Salem, to be precise), but that is a post for another day. Moving all the way across the country was a daring plan for two middle-aged homebodies with limited financial resources. Nevertheless, we sold and donated the vast majority of our material possessions, loaded up the old Mazda, and set out for our new home.
On our Oregon trail, neither of us contracted dysentery. In fact, the trip across America was mostly uneventful. We had a flat tire as we approached St. Louis. It was Labor Day and we were incredibly lucky to get into a Sears Auto Center right before it closed. The nice man there showed me that one of our other tires was also hanging by a thread, so we ended up replacing two.
I have to say that this country is truly beautiful. I highly recommend driving a car across it at least once in your life. One gets a feel for how big it is. Interestingly, one also gets a feel for how small it is. I also must warn potential Kerouacs that navigating through mountain country can be somewhat scary if you are driving a weighted-down twenty-year-old Mazda with an iffy battery and squeaky brakes, especially when the sun is hammering away at your weary old eyes and you are almost out of gas and/or oil. This probably goes without saying.
When we entered the city limits of Salem, Oregon about a week later, our plan was simple. Heather had transferred to a Starbucks here and I was going to find a job in a week or two. We would stay in a cheap hotel until we were able to get into an apartment. Then we could settle into our new life, exploring all the natural wonders of our new state. We would gaze at majestic waterfalls, pierced lovingly with double rainbows. We would eat our weight in fresh Dungeness crab in cozy diners by the seaside. Heather would garden and serve up her healthy harvest. Maybe I could finally record my music properly, when I wasn't busy writing my first novel...
Next: The Oregon Trial