Friday, 21 September 2007

Home to home

Well, Lily, Lauren and I pulled away from home in San Diego in Lil's well-loaded Corolla at about 11.20am last Tuesday, and we pulled into the driveway of her new house in Olympia at about 6.30pm the next day. It's a long way!

We took the interstate 5 all the way, having decided on the need for a quick drive rather than a scenic one up along the coast. The 5 was really hairy through the guts of LA - narrow lanes and big trucks - and then exceedingly boring once we'd descended from the dry, desert-like hills north of LA down into the massive, flat San Joaquin Valley: industrial-scale farms from hazy horizon to horizon.

Things got prettier and prettier the next day as we headed through the high country of northern California, the landscape rippling into glorious hills of redwood forest. And suddenly, we all gasped and cheered as this came into view:

Mt Shasta, with the last vestiges of snow on its peak.

Oregon wasn't far off, and we crossed it from south to north in a long afternoon, including a tempting drive through Portland towards the end of peak hour, with its big river and dozens upon dozens of bridges: bridges that cross bridges and duck beneath others; double-decker bridges; one-way bridges and drawbridges. I've heard so much about this city I really wanted to visit, but not this trip.

Finally, with Lily cheering and yahooing, we drove over a bridge that had one end in Oregon and the other in Washington:

It was touching to watch Lily as she neared her home of the past year. From the moment we entered Washington, she buzzed with excitement, and repeated how good it was to be back, and how much she'd missed Washington and its quiet, dark forests.

She and two of last year's dorm-mates, Sarah and Larissa, have moved off campus and rented a great house just a couple of miles away from uni:

Larissa and Sarah kept sending text messages while we were on the road, checking on our progress and ETA, and when we finally pulled into the driveway of their new home - which Lily hadn't yet seen - they exploded out of the front door and jumped all over her. It was a fantastic welcome. And they'd even gone to the trouble of cooking dinner for all of us - with dessert!

:: We spent the next few days scouring Goodwill and other op shops, Target, J.C. Penney and all sorts of cheapo stores looking for stuff for the house. Lily bought a brand-new bed, though - can't have my daughter sleeping on a grotty old mattress!
This was my first experience of Goodwill, and I was very impressed. We found this big old dining table for an amazing $49 ...

... (please note the terrific oak floorboards!) and this dear little velvet settee for $35 ...

... (sorry about the blurry pic). It's clean and has no worn bits, though it's a little bit saggy-of-seat, but the girls love its retro colours and cosy look. We also picked up a couple of end tables and place-mats for the new dining table.
Other thrift shops gave up five assorted dining chairs, the most expensive of which was $8. I guess all of this is the result of being in a university town. I imagine a lot of this stuff goes round and round, year after year, as students come and go.

:: While Lily revelled in the space, character and independence of her first shared rented home, over at the University of Washington, in Seattle, poor Lauren had to endure being shunted into a minuscule (3m by 3m) first-year dorm room in a building that houses 850 freshmen. With communal bathrooms. Pretty grim ...

Lauren is a third-year student from Sydney uni, and an elite athlete (she rowed for Australia this year at Henley in the UK), and very luckily has that great Australian attribute: a sense of humour. Which she needed when she realised that the only unoccupied bed in this tiny room, a top bunk, was so near the ceiling she wouldn't be able to sit up in bed ...

... plus, while it was a delightful 23 degrees C (74 F) outside, the entire building was h-e-a-t-e-d to a staggering, claustrophobic, virus-breeding 25.5 C (78 F). And while there were narrow air vents above the windows, the windows themselves didn't open.
My palms are sweating just remembering what it was like. But ... it was clean. And I hope, temporary, until Lauren sorts out the slack administration at UW who seem hell-bent on being as bloody-minded as they can about getting Lauren into the decent digs she was promised as she applied for this exchange.

Thank heavens for the bright, happy, helpful staffers at Evergreen! You little beauty! Lily calls it her hippy college in the forest. And, I think, she'd been unaware of just how much it meant to her until she got back.

(This is a pic from last year - that's why Lily has the long hair all of a sudden!)

:: I left a few days earlier than I'd planned. While it was lovely, as always, to be with Lily, it was such an important time for her to be unencumbered by Mum's Presence. Last year's friends were all drifting back into town, and there were constant bulletins about who was back, and who was still on the road, of Tom on a Greyhound and just a few hours away, or Dick and Jane who were driving back from Colorado, and Harry's dreadful summer working on a golf course; plus everyone's - real or imagined, but, I suspect, always embroidered - stories of dreadful times at home with the hideous parents. And so much shrieking about who was living where with whom, and who was back in digs on campus ... so I thought I'd get back to my own bed, and Dave, and my other teenager. Who will soon be my very last one!


Anonymous said...

Ah Les, what a lovely tale. Its great to hear of Lily having such a well-knit group. Big hug x

VictoriaE said...

Thankyou for the drawing encouragement. I LOVE that settee/couch very much!