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Transition: excerpt 4


July 2011

Before long, I found myself overcome with nervousness.

I called to follow up about the temporary position at Oregon Capitol News, and was told I would find out about it by the end of the day. Much to my relief, I heard back later that I did, indeed, get that job. This meant we would have some money coming in and I would have something to do for a couple of weeks.

A few days later, I headed off to Salem to have lunch with Wally. I decided to bring Maddie, and thought it would be nice to show her around the state capitol. We walked with Wally to a nearby café. He was happy with how the session had gone, but said it was getting harder and harder to leave his family every weekend to come back to Salem.

A couple of days later, I got together with Justin and Ian. Justin had apparently found a drummer, named Chad, for us to play with. I took Annaka’s van over to Justin’s place to load up his bass stack. We then made our way over to Chad’s house.

Because I had parked on the other side of the very busy 60th Street, we had to dart across it with our instruments and equipment. Luckily, Justin’s stack had wheels, so he could just roll it through traffic. We headed up to the attic, where Chad’s drum set was located. He said he liked our songs, and seemed like a cool guy who understood where we were coming from.

Chad had a microphone and a guitar amp we could attempt to use for PA, but we couldn’t quite get it to work. That was all right, though, because the lyrics for most of the songs weren’t fully figured out yet. I started to suggest to Ian that we go over the lyrics during our usual chess/coffee/anger management sessions. But it dawned on me that I would actually be working the next few weeks, for the first time in over eight months.

Our jam session was very productive, and all indications were that Evil Homers had a complete lineup. We scheduled a follow-up for the Fourth of July, which fell on a Monday.

After dropping Justin and Ian off, I headed home to pack for our trip to Grants Pass. We woke up early the next morning and hit the road.
Along the way to Grants Pass, we passed by Golden, the old, abandoned mining town where Annaka and I had gotten married nearly four years prior.

A historic reenactment was taking place back then, complete with people renewing their wedding vows. Annaka and I had just gotten our marriage certificate and rings a couple of days before that, and were able to get married in a spontaneous ceremony held inside a church.

Wally was already at the Powderhorn by the time we arrived. I called Simon at the courthouse and urged him to come and meet us. Simon ordered a slice of strawberry pie, which inspired me to do the same. The biggest perk of working at the Powderhorn was that I would often end up with whatever slices of pies they couldn’t sell during the day.

Our meeting was taking place approximately six months after Wally and Simon had taken office. Both had learned a lot since being sworn in, and were determined to continue doing right by their constituents.

During our discussion, I asked Simon if any aspects of his job were different than what he had expected. He replied that the county’s financial situation was deteriorating much faster than he’d thought. A couple of the departments he was charged with overseeing were also in worse shape than most people realized.

In many ways, Simon’s job as county commissioner had proven difficult. He had taken part in replacing different department heads who had resigned or retired, had taken on the task of being the interim fairgrounds manager, and was even having to choose a replacement commissioner. But he was still optimistic after half a year on the job.

Having made my rounds, I headed off to Riverside Park to play disc golf. Jimmy ran to the playground before Annaka and my mother-in-law came to join us. As soon as they arrived, I grabbed my Frisbees and walked over to the disc golf course. It had been moved around in the time since I had left town. Undeterred, I proceeded to get a couple of birdies in the best game I had played in a very long time. After nine holes, I was still two strokes under par.

Triumphant, I rounded up Jimmy and Annaka and drove to my dad’s place in Jacksonville. Along the way, I passed by some of the towns where I had cut my teeth reporting in my early twenties, like Rogue River and Gold Hill.
It was great to see my dad again after so long. I had felt bad for moving his grandson nearly 300 miles away.

Our financial situation was not great, and the high cost of gas had made the trip more expensive. My in-laws had sent us some money ahead of time to help defer some of those costs, and my dad helped out by giving us $100 in cash. He also offered to babysit Jimmy the next day so Annaka and I could go on our first date in months.

On our way back to Vancouver a few days later, we stopped in Grants Pass to meet a friend. The location was the same Elmer’s restaurant where I had made my speech before the Josephine County Republican Women in late October.

By this point, I had been in Vancouver for so long that I was used to not knowing anybody when I went out in public. That changed literally as soon as we got to Elmer’s, where I ran into several people I knew.

We got in the car and headed back to Vancouver. I did, after all, have a temporary job and band practice to get to.

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