Move to Bend: The Eternal Practice

Move to Bend: The Eternal Practice

When Catrina invited Laura and me to carry forth the BGTB torch, via The Poet, we were stunned by her generosity. Disoriented, even.

And our shock was a bit shocking. Not because the fine residents of Bend are ungenerous, as a rule, or unfriendly, but because we may have become a bit too accustomed to the inherent agenda that seems to be at the core of so many conversations in Bend, poster town for the modern Entrepreneurial Economy.

So, while Laura and I are indeed Bend entrepreneurs, and I harbor many an agenda, I want to say this blog is an exercise in generosity, in sharing the real experience of life in Bend, Oregon, with whomever is interested.

We made our move to Bend 20 years ago, come April. Our first Saturday in our Westside rental, I watched the snow fall, wondered what cultish Scandinavians could invent a Pole Peddle Paddle, what sort of human was taking shape in my 5- month pregnant belly, and what the hell my husband and I were going to do for money.

From where I stand today, I can see that I spent a lot of time early on banging on doors I did not necessarily want to pass through. I smiled doggedly at groups of mothers at story time who persisted in greeting me like a stranger every time we met. I attended all the fairs, parades, and kid-friendly events like religion. I figured my people would reveal themselves there. Once, at a release party for a children’s CD, when I commented out loud that my free-styling toddler was a piece of work, a younger, more self-assured mother in better active wear corrected me, “She’s a piece in work.” It was a busy, lonely, stretch.

Still, it was a few years in before I identified what I felt as joy, upon stepping out of Roberts Air Field after a slog to Arizona or Nebraska, to an unimpeded view of snow capped mountains, and a snootful of clean, clean air. Welcome home, indeed.

I don’t ski worth a damn, can’t run for my life, and hold zero ambition to enact down dog on a paddleboard. I could walk for days, however, and often credit the River Trail for what sanity I enjoy.

Where Bend is concerned, as in many other areas, I am an Eternal Beginner. Our Editor-at-Large has reminded me that in 20 years, I have yet to see the inside of the Sons of Norway Lodge, though I know it’s the place to learn the best Norwegian drinking songs.

Sure, we all gotta make a living. And this ski town/river town/tourist town/beer nirvana east, the perceived Bend lifestyle, can be, and is being, commoditized. One cannot live in a commercial, however, and we are more than our marketing. This is the place to share the big picture, the small moments, the real deal that is Bend. I am happy and grateful to be here.

***Moving to Bend? Check out the OG Catrina Gregory’s post about moving to Bend and see if, based on her personal filter, this place might be up your alley or your creek.


4 thoughts on “Move to Bend: The Eternal Practice

  1. Thanks for the intro to your experience… I have lived in a few different cities and Bend has been on my list of places for our families possible new home… I look forward to your additional insight… Are you happy in Bend? or do you still feel like an outsider yet question whether you want to be an “insider”?

    1. Hi, RIch. Good questions, both. Short answer on the primary: yes. As for the secondary, I may forever feel outside some Bend circles, but am cozily tucked inside others…I think this question addresses the conversation we want to have on BGTB: how to feel at home in Bend.

  2. I read with interest your feelings about your move to Bend 20 years ago when Bend was indeed a very small rural town. I thought back to the days when my parents moved to Alturas CA another small rural town and how unwelcoming the town was to our family with the exception of a few kind souls. I believe that it has to do with the small population which in turn means a lack of experience in meeting & greeting new arrivals to a town. The population in 2003 when we moved here was much larger and people had become more familiar with meeting new arrivals. I felt immediately at ease as most of the people I met were or had been new arrivals. The people that had lived here all their lives or a good portion were friendly, welcoming and loved how we appreciated their town.

  3. I left a comment for Catrina and apparently she left Bend! Any advice on a teacher finding work with the Bend La Pine SD?

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