"Of course this is Jordan's hometown. How could it not be? It all makes sense, now."
My very dear friends, Trent and Sarah, arrived in our tiny mountain village last night. Mom and Dad picked them up from the airport and drove them down the winding desert roads to our little house in town. This morning, they woke up and are following the directions I sent them to my favorite hike, a few miles out of town and way up in the mountains. It's the hike I take every time I'm home, with my dearest childhood friend Hayley. We always have a year or more of catching-up to do on our way to the top, and we usually continue on off-trail to the base of the mountain, a few miles in the distance. No matter the weather, we take our clothes off and jump in the lake after our descent.
They'll visit "Melvin's Fir Street Market" and ask for Melvin himself, because I told Trent that Melvin is one of my favorite people in the world. He's the town's "Health Food Store" guy and has been for as long as I can remember (and for at least a decade before that). I told them they'll love his little store. All kinds of good food. It's where I treat myself before I go out of town to hike or climb. "On your way back, id encourage you to stop in there," I said. "I worked there a couple days a week for many summers. Everything I know about business and stores, I know from Melvin. We used to take our lunch breaks together and I'd ask him a million questions about how he's been so successful in such a small town, and he'd teach me things. Anyone in town will know where "Melvin's" is, if you ask."
Tonight they'll check into Five Pines, and I'll text them some long nostalgic story about how "that area" has only been built up for a decade or so, now. Before that, it was just national forest. We were the only house in the forest (which is now a neighborhood, with real roads and everything!), and Jake and I used to ride our bikes back there, deep into the woods, and find old abandoned log cabin remnants. We'd sift through their foundations and find old Vix Vapor Rub bottles--the bright blue glass felt like gold when we'd find one to carry home. Jake would dig up old cow bones and drag them home and leave them in piles in the front yard. And then, maybe ten years ago now, they built a movie theater there among the trees. Four screens. I went on a lot of dates in that little movie-barn. Spent a lot of time there with friends. Before we could drive, someone's mom or dad would drop us all off and pick us all up, out front. And when Austin turned 16 before the rest of us, he became our honorary chauffeur.
A few summers ago, Marteen and I sat outside at the brewery across the street and had a beer together. We'd spent many high-school evenings on "friend dates" there, discussing life--the good, the bad, and the ugly. So it only seemed fitting that we'd grab a brew on that patio as grown-ups, too.
Gramps, Nana, and I stayed in one of those little lodges a couple summers ago, the weekend Jacob graduated. When Jared graduates, we'll be all together as a family--at HOME--because Sisters is finally home for the Richersons, again. I'm not sure it ever wasn't.
Sometime this weekend, Mama and Dad will take them out to Cloverdale and show them around--to the house and the property in/on which I was raised and painstakingly decorated with Christmas lights each year. They'll get to see where I raised my donkeys and chickens and bunnies; where I started my career (and business) as a swim-instructor at the ripe old age of thirteen; where I kissed a boy or two and cried over a few more than that. They'll see the big driveway where I (gladly) ran garage sales and the barn where my baby bloodhounds were born and my kittens were raised; the pool where Huck drowned and the dirt beneath which so many of our beloved dogs are laid to rest.
I want them to see the forge where I learned to change my oil and rotate my tires with my handsome Hayden-friend who gave me my very first Carhart jacket. The forge where I spent many nights my senior year, hammering out a damascus steel rosette for the guitar I spent the year building. It was in the parking lot of that forge, on a blizzardy and icy night, where Hayden taught me to pull my E-break and spin cookies. He's the same friend who'd pick me up in his truck at sunrise on summer mornings and say "hop in--I've got coffee." We'd bounce down old dirt roads, splashing the burning black stuff all over his cloth seats, listening to old-time country music, and I'd watch him shoe horses. He'd take me riding, too.
I'm not sure they'll get to the forge, or the high school, or the fields where Dad took me every Sunday after church to hit fly balls so I could "get good enough to make Varsity." They probably won't know all the fields where we played night games or the dam-wall where I had my first kiss or the trees we'd hide in when we TP'd our town-friends' houses. They won't have time to swing by The Hangar, where I spent every Wednesday night learning about Jesus from Dan Keels, or Sisters Community Church, where I was raised by The Village. They may not see the elementary school fields, where Dad took Jake and I to fly kites and launch rockets, or The Pumphouse, where I bought my first pack of wood-tipped cigars for myself and my girlfriends one night when we needed them for our bonfire around the lake.
They won't make it up to Hoodoo, where I learned to ski and spent every winter skiing and playing cards in the lodge for the majority of my life, and they won't see Billy Chinook, where I spent every summer wakeboarding and water skiing with gal pals and a boyfriend and family friends. They won't walk on the dock at Suttle Lake--which I've been jumping off since I was six years old, and they won't have time to run out to the Metolius to drink from its crystal waters like I have so many times. They'll miss the chance to run The Bone Trail to Eagle Rock and cross over the little stream that I get down on all floors to soak my parched lips in every time I pass. They won't know that Eagle Rock has held me as a 6 year-old girl when I was brand new to the town and about to start first grade, and that it's the first place I ran to when I arrived "home" fourteen years later after having left to see the world and start college in a state 2,000 miles away. They won't see my initials carved deep in the oak tree at the top.
But they'll get the gist. They'll smell the mountain air and feel the crisp mornings on their skin. They'll notice that every street is named after a type of tree and that you can only walk two miles before you're in the woods outside of town. They'll sit in Sisters Coffee, and I'll tell them there used to be a little tiny house on that property that could only fit about 20 people inside. On cold, snowy winter days, we'd line up outside, all the way down the sidewalk. Dad would bundle me tight, and I'd order a hot chocolate once inside. They'll get to sleep in the duplex my parents have been renting out for as long as I can remember--and I'll tell them there used to be a little green house on that property. When I was seven or eight, the fire department guys did a "demo" on it while we watched it combust from the park across the street--I sat on the fence rails and Dad stood behind me. After it burned, my parents built the set of duplexes that sits on the property today. They'll get to eat lunch at one of my favorite (and dearest) places, and they'll see the mountains every morning.
They're going to love it.
I'm so glad they're there.