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Oregon (part 1 of 2) March 23, 2008

Posted by eric22222 in General, Personal Favorites.
Tags: , , ,

We’ve just returned from our week-long trip in Oregon. It’s been an exciting adventure, providing many stories to be told. I’ll reach back into the confines of my memory and see what I can fish out:

(This turned out much longer than I anticipated. Introductory paragraph below, but hit “more” for the rest. I’d like to do something like this for every day of the trip, but that really took it out of me. In case you can’t guess from the much improved writing below, I bought a pair of Terry Pratchett books while in Oregon, and that always does wonders for my writing.)

It was dark. Long before the sun had even had thoughts of tumbling out of bed and wearily rising over the horizon. It was too early even for the proverbial early bird to have stirred in its nest. Even the nocturnal animals knew this was no hour to be awake, and hastily made their way to their homes as his minivan coasted by. A few dead leaves, the remains of winter, followed the wind that trailed. The headlights shone upon the sleepy road, which twisted through the trees as a restless sleeper would through blankets. Out in the distance, a faint red beacon could just be seen. The Windstar eased to a halt outside the intersection as its driver took another piece of candy from its wrapper. The sugar was doing little to keep him awake, and it was only the placebo effect that was doing any good. He waited with imperceptible anticipation for the light to shift hues. There was no rush, of course. By no means would he be the last to arrive. It was this careful attention to punctuality that he took pride in.

He wondered what the coming week would bring, trying to occupy his thoughts before Boredom (and subsequently, Sleep) took hold. There was a job to be done. He knew that much. There was always the Job, but it wasn’t until a job showed up that you even thought about Working on the Job. What aforementioned job was, however, he was unsure. The location was most certainly Oregon. Given that, he deduced that the job was to be done in the United States, and surely on Earth. This also meant the job was not to be done in Tennessee, or any celestial bodies for that matter. Other galaxies were right out. With this train of thought, he’d be able to deduce a near infinite number of facts about the job, but that train would undoubtedly loop back to Boredom’s central station, Redundancy. Perhaps the nature of the job could be meditated on. There was a camp somewhere in Oregon (not on any celestial bodies, mind you) that was severely understaffed. Cabins needed to be cleaned and fixed up in preparation for the coming months’ rush of young children in ridiculously colored coats against their will and older children in similarly ridiculous clothes of their own accord. There was also the small church. An urban ministry, acronymed as something like WELL, or FLOW… churches always seemed to acronym as water-related things. They loved that water metaphor. Regardless, they needed help, too. He wasn’t sure what the job there would entail, but, whatever it turned out to be, it would let him do the Job.

The light turned green.

The minivan lazily rolled across the intersection, probably well aware of the hour. It did, after all, have a clock in the dashboard. It rolled into the parking lot and slowed to a stop between the white lines of a parking space. About ten others were waiting next to a larger van, illuminated by the yellow light of a street lamp. The driver dismounted from the Windstar and took his luggage towards the others. The Windstar felt no sense of abandonment, though. It did not feel that its owner was leaving it to rust for the rest of its days. No, vans have no feelings, and you’re very silly for thinking otherwise.

His arrival was met with a few half-hearted cheers that said, quite plainly, “I’m glad you’re here, but I’d rather see a bed.” These were good friends. When you’re in front of a soda machine with a thirsty gleam in your eye, they don’t say “here’s a dollar if you promise to pay me back.” That’s an acquaintance. They don’t say “here’s a dollar, don’t worry about it.” That’s just an average friend. No, they say “I’ll split mine with you, just don’t backwash.” They do the right thing, but not because it’s honorable or commendable. They do it because that’s what friends do.

There would be twenty in all. As four AM drew near, the missing members pulled into the church parking lot. Sarah (not to be confused with Sara) had brought some of her highly regarded scones to share. The small crowd formed a circle. A prayer was said, and the vans were loaded. Before stepping into the van, the Windstar’s pilot took a look at the trees dotting the parking lot, tinged yellow by the street lamps. There were buds, ready to flower. They’ll bloom before we return, he thought. He logged the idea away and stepped into the van.

The ride to the airport was filled with joking and laughter, but, as the reader will note, the difficulty of memory formation is proportional to the lack of sleep, so the story here skips a bit. There was something about broccoli, and… er… um…

The airport! A… uniquely designed building, to say the least. See it below, as the field of vision zooms out and upwards. It sprawls outward, as a city that finds it’s grown too big for its summer wear. The difference being that the airport was built all at once, and, most surprisingly, looks this way by design. The view continues to pan outward, and we see a tiny dot on the highway, moving towards the tangled terminals; if it was not pointed out, it would be completely overlooked as mere flavor in the scene. As always happens when viewing an airport from a high, distant vantage point, an airplane roars by, testing the limits of the reader’s imagination’s surround sound. The scene fades to a montage, as the twenty Workers leave the van, get their passes, permeate through the cliche security point, and arrive at the gate.

They were early, of course. He had no problem with this. But it did mean he would have to think some more to keep Boredom et al at bay. There was the cold weather. It’s cold outside. Well, that train of thought has reached the end of the line. What else? There were those scones, they were good. Wonder what’s in ’em… And what where they saying about broccoli on the van? There was also that…

Oh yeah. The Job.

It was something people could forget about easily. When you were overwhelmed with jobs, you tended to forget their purpose: earn money, buy food, eat it, keep alive so you can do the Job. But people always forgot the Job. It sank into the background as “more important” things rose up. Responsibilities, status, wealth, even fear. But you couldn’t let it sink like that. Not when you were Employed. You had to remember. You had to do the Job.

The plane hit the ground with a loud thud. The wind sounded out with a long roar as it saw the plane speeding by. All in all, a cacophony of airplany noises were going on as the passengers saw the nearing terminal. After much bustling, the carry-ons found their owners and everyone’s circadian clocks were feeling a bit confused. Todd, the understood leader of the twenty, got the rented vans. The remaining nineteen waited by the baggage claim. Various portable storage devices drifted across on the conveyor belt, hoping to be reunited with their respective carry-on buddies. A section of extremely uncomfortable benches was claimed for the group, and, to no alarm, many sat on the floor. Reclaimed suitcases became makeshift pillows as the wait for Todd dragged on. A hackysack emerged at one point, as did another bag on Sarah’s scones. Then… er… maybe, no…

The vans! They were loaded with luggage and people. And some scones. Todd and Chad took the driver’s seats, while Sarah piloted the minivan that had been rented exclusively for carrying all the luggage. The others chose the van they would end up spending the rest of the week in. The vehicles pulled out. The airport disappeared behind them, while exciting adventures in Oregon (not on any distant stars) awaited them ahead. There was a Job to do.



1. Clifford (Grandaddy) Dobbs - March 24, 2008

Eric, Congratulations on a job well done. And what an interesting account of your journey. I can see you have the author in you. I enjoyed reading your post. I will make a copies for family and friends.

Thanks very much.

Love you.


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