Friday, December 11, 2009

on the sixth day of christmas, i went coastal

Amidst the merriment and mania of the holiday, a swell of nostalgia has been pulling me to my old hometown, Newport, earlier this week. I spent two days there, peering deep beneath all the superficial changes to reacquaint myself with the city that changed my life a hundred times over.

Upon pulling into town around 9pm, I went straight to my high school. It's been 14 years since I was a Newport Cub (holy shit), and I was surprised by the emotion it stirred. Once upon a time the campus quad was the epicenter of my life, and now it feels like a wrinkle in time.

When we moved to Oregon in 1990, we planned to live in Monmouth, but a day trip to the ocean led us to Newport, a chapter of our lives that spanned 13 years.

I failed to anticipate that our most viable eating options late at night would be to knock on someone's door, but thankfully, we went down to the Bayfront and ended up at the Rogue, which was utterly surreal. Our host, a Quaker named Reuben, was also the manager and he welcomed us warmly and announced us that he's not capable of making most of what was on the menu. It was great like that. I asked for the turkey sandwich and he winced. Upon further perusal, we looked quizzically at the macaroni and cheese. That, he said, he could make. Probably. It took almost an hour and a half, and he had to read directions, and we were nervous. Meanwhile, our Sprites were running low and well, someone had to keep this place running:

La Quinta, Newport's finest:

My first Newport sunrise in 11 years:

Breakfast at the legendary Georgie's Beachside Grill with my fellow NHS classmate Dawna and two of her kids, Cody and Savannah:

Our first house in Newport, in Nye Beach, where we lived just long enough to meet Mesina across the street before moving into something bigger. This house has been renovated, as long as we're being honest:

Who knew that in this humble abode lived a 12 year old who would prove to be one of my eternal heartstrings. Can you believe this Mes?

Next up, Sand Castle Toys, specialty store for some christmas shopping:

It took everything I had not to buy this, sweet Jesus:

Our house in Makai, where Mom and Chris lived for 13 years:

The first apartment Todd and I ever had, with three month old Quinn. Ours was bottom front, #1:

The view from our apartment, I used to walk my Quinny along this road:

The cottage on Cottage Street Mom into which Mom moved once the nest was mostly empty:

Newport's Performing Arts Center, where my bff Zach and I were cast in A Company of Wayward Saints our senior year (I will never post pictures of that, lol):

Pizza Cucina, Newport's finest pizza parlour, where Todd and I met in 1994:

The world's loooooooooooooooongest Stephen King corridor, especially amusing when one is sopping wet just out of the hot tub, wearing a hotel towel (a.k.a. washcloth):

Wi-Fi rocks, but tracking down the grave site of an old friend who committed suicide sucks, especially when you discover he's all the way in Union. Worse still is having enough friends who have taken their lives as to warrant a day of visiting sites:

Visiting the grave of my dear friend from high school, Brian. My heart will never fully mend from this loss. Brian confided his intent in me the day before he took his life. I was 16, and terrified to reach out for him. I was afraid of seeming dramatic. I decided I would force him to join me in speaking to someone the next day but he shot himself that night, just as he said. Having just lost Jon, and spending the evening trying to find Stefan, was overwhelming. I have never driven faster to see my kids:

I took a rose to his grave on the 3rd of every month for almost five years, but it has been so long it was like realizing it for the first time:

This was a much-needed trip, seeing old friends, old teachers, old haunts, our homes, and reminiscence that was at times astonishing, dismal, foreign, thrilling, and sad. If we hadn't come here for the day back in the spring of 1990, Quinn and Reilly wouldn't exist. So it was all worth it.


Dawna said...

How did I not know about Brian Peterson?? Or did I just block it out?. . .Geez.
Better yet, how did I miss the fact that you were still around for a while after H.S. getting married and having a baby. . .Do I live in a cave?!

I'm just glad that the weather was good for you guys, albeit cold.

Cheyenne said...

Not sure how you missed Brian. We were juniors, he was a senior. Then when we were seniors Jennifer Esson and Kara Leas were murdered up at Moolack Shores on Super Bowl Sunday 1995, and found in the woods, do you remember that? A year or so after we graduated Brian Johnson (class of '94) drowned in Lake Illahee. He was so so nice. He was a tech an installed my mom's first car cd player. Then in 1998 Stefan Shanks committed suicide in the house next door to where Todd and I lived when I was pregnant with Quinn. His mom and my mom were really close friends, and at Stefan's service, Robin insisted that despite being due on the 18th of Nov., I must have Quinn on the 10th, Stefan's birthday. Well wouldn't you know it.

And then Jon. God.

How did you miss all this? Um, you was busy makin' all them babies lady!!!

We're coming back to see you soon. :)

Mesina said...

I remember Brian Peterson, as I remember all the hype about everyone wanting to put in a memorial in the yearbook that year for him and the school saying they couldn't. I guess they didn't want to be seen encouraging suicide. It was so sad. It was our second suicide if you recall, because in middle school (please forgive I cannot recall her name) a very popular girl shot herself, a sister of one of our year boys.

I also remember Jennifer and Kara's murder, they used to hang with a few friends of mine and damn that hit us all so hard. I never saw that walk from Agate beach to Newport the same ever again. Some guys my Stepdad knew were the ones that uncovered their bodies. So scary.

Apart from those memories, I hold some great ones! How wierd was it seeing my old house, my Stepdad still lives there. It looks old now! haha,it always did a bit anyway I suppose. And I remember you living in that house! I bet Newport looks so different now, so much has changed. I keep vowing to Maurice that one day we will make a trip out there and I'll show him around - he'd love to see where I grew up.

Dawna, you look amazing as always! You haven't changed one damn bit woman!!! Your kids are so super cute, if we come to visit one day I'll be needing to take them home with me :D xx

Cheyenne said...

Mesina-Yeah Brian's death was one of the defining moments of my life.

Mary Hamilton was who shot herself, on Mother's Day, when we were in 7th grade. Chet was in our class. There are several pictures of him on the wall at the Rogue where we ate. I remember Jessica Kittel's family had some specialized cleaning service and got that call--ugh. So many deaths.

Mike still lives there? OMG then that's who walked out as I was stopped in front like some stalkerazzi, that is so funny. Yeah, it's really different, sadly so, but still awash in memories. I too shudder driving that stretch of Moolack.

Hurry the fuck up and get here, you promised your man! And your woman!

Susannah said...

So much to comment on but all I can seem to muster at this hour is: huh? You chose Newport over Monmouth? I can't imagine why! <3

Becky (Bone) said...

Not sure exactly how I stumbled upon your blog... but thank you. :)
I was a year ahead of you in school and think about Mary and Brian often. I was working at the News-Times my senior year and it was my job to type up Brian's obit. I cried all the way through, as I had known him since elementary school.
I cried when I saw the picture you posted of his grave.
Did you know that Ary Olsen wrote a song about Mary? It was Dawson's Creek. Here's a link:

Cheyenne said...

Wow Becky, I remember you vividly. We are on opposite sides of the height spectrum as I recall.

I still have Brian's obituary in my yearbook. The phrase "He had been despondent." Haunted me for like 833295 years. I had no idea you wrote that. Knowing that you knew him since childhood, god, that tears me up. I think about Erick and Cherie (and Laura and Kevin and Crystal) and how they're all grown and will always remember him being that age. I knew Bob pretty well, and David McReynolds told me the story of how Bob came home and...sweet Jesus. David was a pall bearer I believe.

I came to Newport right after Mary's death, but it was still palpable.

Thanks for reading/commenting, I will check out Ary's site right now. Do you have a blog? Still writing? Take care. :)