Update – October 2016: The founder of Beginner’s Guide to Bend isn’t in Bend anymore. Oh, the scandal. Catrina Gregory moved away but her words below, written in 2012/13, are here because they’re basically the origin story behind BGTB.
Enjoy! And stay tuned for the latest posts from the new co-editors, Laura and Irene. (And hopefully this page will eventually turn into “How We Ended Up in Bend” – the new editors in chief have their own unique histories with this little mountain town – you can read a little about Irene’s story here.)
Who do I think I am, all bloggity blog blogging about Bend? Well, I’m Catrina Gregory, and I’m new here.
Watch the video below for the five-minute explanation about how I ended up in Bend, and what it’s been like for me so far…
That’s me, dorking out on stage at the Tower Theater, a bundle of nerves, at Ignite Bend.
In case you don’t have the patience for video, let me sum up. No, too much to sum up. Let me explain.
I grew up in Junction City, Oregon on Greenwood Street in a house built in 1892 equipped with a bathtub and a wood stove (no shower, but yes we did have indoor plumbing). Our living room flooring was a patchwork of old carpet samples liberated from the local hardware store. My brother and I sold night crawlers to local fisherman in moss-filled Chinese food to-go containers. We rode our bikes around the block, trampled mazes in the overgrown abandoned lot down the block, picked blueberries every summer, went to church three times a week, and flouted the law by squishing pennies on the nearby railroad tracks.
I was the quintessential small-town girl, but I knew I was small town. I dreamed of being a city girl. As a teenager, I subscribed to two magazines: Town & Country and a magazine about colleges. I wanted out. I wanted to be Mary Tyler Moore, I wanted to live in the big city. I wanted the country to be the place I had a second home. I wanted to hail taxis, and dance until dawn and complain about traffic.
All my dreams came true…well, I never really got the country house, but I morphed myself into a damn fine city girl. I lived in Seattle while I earned my undergrad degree, then Los Angeles, then New York, then back to LA. In LA and New York, no one ever thought I was a native, but they where always surprised to learn I grew up in the “RV Capital of the World” (Junction City, Oregon, population 3,000). I knew how to blend in just enough.
My life in LA was actually pretty awesome. I stayed away from Hollywood as much as I could, and had a sweet little community in Venice. I lived a block from the beach, and a stone’s throw from a few of the best restaurants and coffee shops in the city. I surfed occasionally, rode my beach cruiser everywhere, and couldn’t pedal more than a few blocks without passing a familiar face. It was an eclectic, diverse community of mostly single people like me, some artists, some professionals, just living the California dream.
It was the kind of community that you avoid dating in, mostly because it’s three square miles, and you just didn’t want to risk polluting your home turf, not to mention, destroying your privacy. Relationships sometimes need a little cover of dark to germinate and grow, and living them out on the Venice stage was never appealing to me.
But of course I did just that, and got myself hurt. The whole little enclave of Venice seemed to be so full up with memories that I didn’t know if there was room for new ones. I looked around and thought, “What now?” and all those other questions that get kicked up when you’re a little destroyed, like “Is this all there is?” “What do I want the rest of my life to look like?” “Will I survive this?” and, “Where can I get a vat of macaroni and cheese with bacon?”
Really in the end, it wasn’t about the heartache. Even if I could’ve eternal sunshined my way to a spotless mind, I still couldn’t imagine spending the rest of my life in Venice. I couldn’t imagine aging there, or buying property, or really putting down real roots of any kind in such a transitory community.
Then there was quality of life. I mean, driving to my favorite trail run could take me 2 hours round trip in the summer (Malibu traffic, not glamorous). If you never left Venice, it wasn’t so bad UNTIL GQ named my street the hippest street in America. Game over.
I toyed with the idea of Austin for awhile (I still LOVE that city), but the city girl in me was all worn out. I wanted small town again, like under pop. 100,000. The very thing I ran away from as a young adult…I wanted THAT back. And I missed my family. But I couldn’t go back to the Willamette Valley. Too dark and damp. That pretty much left one option.
BEND, OREGON. Close enough to my family, lots of sunshine, reasonably affordable, and I could see myself starting over here, and spending the rest of my life roaming the trails, river banks, hills and mountains of Central Oregon.
You know how when your heart is effed up, you think it’ll never heal? Yeah, so when I decided to move, I imagined that Bend was the kind of place where I could be that quirky Botox-free spinster with a magical green thumb who rescues misfit animals. I would wear stylish hats and kaftans, and collect birdhouses and wellies, and all my friend’s kids would call me Crazy Aunt Cat. They’d come over for dress-up high tea, and to make macaroni necklaces and misshapen pottery in my sun-dappled art studio. Hey, whatever it takes to heal.
So, I started sketching kaftan designs, bought a Subaru and a pair of Sorrels, packed up my worldlies, and made the leap. Yep.
From the moment I stared at the ocean in Venice and decided it was time to say goodbye, to the moment I drove into my new driveway on the westside of Bend, barely 4 weeks had elapsed.
I didn’t really think things through, it was a little lonely at first. Still is, to be honest. I miss my tight-knit circle of friends so much, a part of my heart feels like that hole left behind just after the dentist yanks a tooth.
Bend is one of those towns where it takes a little while to find your groove. No insta-friends to be made, and frankly, I respect that. So, we’ll work for it, Bend and me. Let time and serendipity bond us together when we’re both ready.
I’m not going anywhere. Moving to Bend was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It’s been a bit of a rocky start, but I love it here. It’s not a hard town to love. For starters, every restaurant in town has mac and cheese on the menu (love! hate!), and there’s only one block of pavement between my backyard and the Deschutes River Trail. It’s a beautiful place, with a bazillion things to do. Being a beginner is pretty fun, and my hope is to share the stuff I’ve learned about loving, living, surviving and thriving in Bend with whomever cares to read it…
Oh, and if you’re the super curious type, check out the original post I wrote when I decided to move to Bend back in 2012. And also the 15 things I thought I’d probably love about Bend, Oregon before I actually moved here, and the 4 things I actually love about living here, a year later.