Even though it still feels like we’ve “just arrived,” we are coming up on two months that we have been in Astoria. The time is flying by. We’ve made a number of whirlwind weekend trips back and forth to Portland. We are often asked how we like Astoria and if we miss Portland. I sometimes don’t know how to answer.
The short, small talky answer is yes, I like Astoria. I like walking to town along the river. I like the old houses and green hills. I like seeing the ships go by on the river. I like the beautiful sunny days, but the rainy, gray days are nice too. There’s as much vitality and social goings-on as we could want, but part of the appeal is a slower pace and less distraction. I don’t know if I’m just getting older, or if I am coming to terms with my inherent homebodiness. I like not having too much to go do.
I may have the attention span of a flea, but I get easily caught up in “what’s going on.” I do this on micro levels amongst friends and family. Like who has a new boyfriend, who got a new job, who got arrested, who is pregnant again, who is in a tiff with who. Etc. I can’t imagine this is unusual. And I get caught up on a macro level with news, politics and shit going on in the world, which can make me alternately fascinated and infuriated. In between, there’s a mid-micro level of the localish city “scene,” which can be both entertaining and exhausting at the same time.
Many of these various levels of distraction don’t really require being in a physical location. I can be distracted as hell just sitting on my ass for hours. I could be in Portland or Astoria or Siberia. Yay for the internet. My tenancy for distraction is a self management issue, not a physical location issue. But being in a city can create a pressure to participate, to be “in” on things, or to measure your activity against what other people are doing. It’s sometimes hard to be a slovenly, basement dwelling recluse when there’s so much to do outside with other people.
I realize this need for “bigger,” environmental solitude might sound baffling. Wouldn’t self discipline be so much easier? Shutting out distraction is probably easy for some people. I am a classic extrovert, and I’m vacuously influenced by my surroundings. Attention span of a flea. Not kidding.
I’d like to imagine that I’m not a dummy. But thinking takes a long time. Quiet, internal, real thinking anyway. The big trees, the wide river, the chilly breeze push the noise away. There’s a reason artists flock to beautiful, quiet places. Even the noisy, blabby mouth, distracted artists.