Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Matter of Choice

It occurred to me as I wrote in my journal this morning that my choice of where to live was the first time it was not based on someone else's wishes. Every time I lived somewhere, it was because I had married someone who lived in a particular state, came out to California because a good friend came out to Redding to make a new life and I just followed for the same reason, went to Korea because that country asked me to, and on and on.

This time, I sat in Redding and wanted out of a house that was violated by an adult child and an ex-husband. Another son said to me that I could live anywhere I wanted to, anywhere in the United States or in the world for that matter. I love San Francisco but could never afford it and thought about Vancouver, Canada and even Tasmania, Australia. Then I thought about the one city I have always wanted to live in, Portland. It was not too far away so that my son could easily help me move for I knew I had to go in a short time. He had a truck.

I am a senior citizen. In Korea, I knew if I had medical needs I did not feel comfortable about going to Korean doctors for they did not treat some diseases such as diabetes very well or at least I did not see it treated as vigorously as I saw it treated elsewhere. I have celiac disease. Korean doctors have no training in this at all. I was hesitant about going to another country where I would not have medical benefits. Because of my Agent Orange exposure, I have had cancer several times. Luckily, I have been able to beat it with the doctors at the Veterans Administration. I even had ovarian cancer and that is a big killer for women. The VA medical system is an excellent medical system. The only complaints I have ever had was the mental health care for women.

Portland has a large and extensive V.A. Hospital. It also has a Veterans Affairs Center. I had been in Portland several times. I knew it was a beautiful city. I told my son that I needed to move to Portland and found an apartment on the Internet. My son showed me how you can use the Google Map System to look at the neighborhood and it looked great. I talked to one particular apartment complex and liked the manager. I went up Portland early and stayed at a motel and looked over the apartment, paid the deposit and my son drove my stuff up here.

When I was in Redding, I was always looking for a book club. Here in Portland, they are everywhere. Bookstores are everywhere and authors hold book signings all of the time even in grocery stores. I have always loved Powell's book stores. I still do.

Flowers and trees are everywhere in great abundance. It does rain more than it did in Redding, but it was beginning to really warm up in Redding and it gets very hot there and the air conditioner was turned on from time to time. Here, I don't even have one in my apartment. I did not have the heat on last night but turned on the heat briefly to take the coolness out of the apartment. I can have an air conditioner if I want, but I have a basement apartment and none of them have one although there are several third floor apartments that have one but those are very few and they are small units. Although I have a basement apartment I look out on flowers and trees at a regular height on one side of my place. There are no buildings looking back at me but just trees and sky. There is a small children's playground and a heated pool not far from my place.

I seemed to have lived in places where I stood out. I don't seem to anymore. I had friends in this area before I came and they had been my friends since the 1980's when I lived in the Midwest. I had moved to Redding with them, but they did not like it there and moved to Salem, Oregon. They will be retiring soon there. It is about 30 minutes from Portland. I did not want to live in Salem as it is too much like Topeka, Kansas.

I always lived in places that family members decided that was where they wanted to live. This time, I decided this is where I wanted to live. I had gotten used to doing what others wanted that it never occurred to do otherwise until my son told me I could. This time it wasn't a job, relative or anything else that decided for me where I needed to go. I went somewhere because I wanted to go. I always considered myself independent, but I have been raised a woman and a family's needs always came first. Not this time.

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