Coming Home to Ashland, Oregon

Ashland, Oregon
Ashland, Oregon

Coming Home to Ashland, Oregon

The hero in Thomas Wolfe’s 1940 novel, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” realized he couldn’t go back to his home town because he had written such revealing things about its citizens that they greeted him with nasty letters and death threats. While I may have enjoyed complaining about Ashland’s political underbelly, I haven’t written the great exposé, and whenever I’ve visited, my friends have always said, “So when are you moving back?”
The hero in Thomas Wolfe’s 1940 novel, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” realized he couldn’t go back to his home town because he had written such revealing things about its citizens that they greeted him with nasty letters and death threats. While I may have enjoyed complaining about Ashland’s political underbelly, I haven’t written the great exposé, and whenever I’ve visited, my friends have always said, “So when are you moving back?”

I have never regretted moving to Portland. After 16 years in Ashland, after losing Jack, and after serving almost three years on the City Council, I was ready for a change. It did take a while to feel at home in Portland, but I’ve made lovely new friends, lived in a beautiful townhouse/condo, and have greatly enjoyed the music scene here. Friends of Chamber Music invited me to join their board, and I’ve increased my work interviewing musicians and reviewing performances for Oregon ArtsWatch, while hoping to continue some of that from Ashland. I’ve stopped going to the symphony because of the expense and the parking hassle, but I’m excited about attending the Rogue Valley Symphony, which seems to have risen out of its ashes. 

What will I miss in Portland? Definitely some close friends, who I hope will visit me in Ashland. I’ll miss my Portland writing group and the intimacy we’ve shared in the process of writing and reading, and I’ll miss St. Michael & All Angels Episcopal Church, which is on the cutting edge of just about everything I value.  

What will I gain in Ashland? A writing group that has promised to reconstitute itself once I’ve moved, many old friends, including those associated with Chamber Music Concerts (and the concerts themselves), a pretty house that I’m currently in the process of remodeling to fit the art collection that is still way too large, and a fenced yard so I can get a dog. I’m wise enough to know that Bacho can never be replaced, but a new dog would be a welcome addition to the family. (My cat, Wabi Sabi, has not approved that statement.)

And what will I not miss? Traffic, traffic, and traffic. I-5 is often just unspeakable here, and to get to places across the river like Beaverton, it’s like going to a different state! I really won’t miss gorgeous Mt. Hood because I almost never see it. The view is always blocked by trees or buildings. Same with the stars and sometimes even the moon, further blocked by city lights. However, Portland gets a bum rap for certain other things – the weather, for example. I’ve actually not minded the rain and gray days because my house has huge windows letting in lots of light, and the humidity is good for my skin and hair.

But I’m looking forward to seeing much more of nature in Ashland – the mountains, the moon, even the stars. Trails in the woods are just a few blocks away, and good hikes only a short car ride. Some of my friends are within walking distance of my house, as is the University, as are grocery stores and cafes. 

Perhaps what I most look forward to is the sense of community – civic, environmental, and personal. That, more than almost anything else, is what calls me back.

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6 thoughts on “Coming Home to Ashland, Oregon”

  1. Lucky Ashland! Portland will miss you, but at least we’ll have your voice and insights here and on Oregon ArtsWatch!

  2. Mark Stephenson

    You mentioned how you were looking forward to the dark skies and seeing the stars. I googled “Ashland Oregon Astronomy” and got quite a few hits. I thought I might put this on your radar screen. As you know, I am an incorrigible astro-geek. So, if you do want to pursue ways to enjoy the dark skies, I will be glad to help.

  3. Sharon H Gist

    Wow, Alice! I love the way you listen to the calling of your heart. There’s something soooo special about the community in Ashland. This sounds like a good move for you…and I’m glad you enjoyed Portland as much as you did. Love, Sharon
    P.S. I might be moving to Dallas By November.

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