Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ashland > Eugene

The title here reads "Ashland is greater than Eugene." My first time in Ashland was when I took a bicycle framebuilding class here a few winters ago. I loved it. I wanted to move to Ashland right away. It didn't turn out that way. At that time I had a girlfriend who I was planning to marry, and other things like that. I moved to Philadelphia instead. I never forgot how bizarrely friendly Ashland was, or how much I liked it.

The bicycle job didn't work out. The job opening was at Bike Friday - a manufacturer of what are probably the world's best folding bicycles. (Bromptons are very classy and awesome, and they fold quickly into a sturdy little bundle - but my vote for the best folder is with Bike Friday, because the component options are virtually unlimited, and they make tandems and recumbents. They ride very much like a typical big-wheeled bicycle).

Well - I didn't get the job. I have mixed feelings about this, and I'm not taking it as a negative thing. I dodged a bullet of responsibility. The worst part about it is that I won't get to make myself a free Bike Friday. No big loss. Also: I think they probably made the right move. I worry that I came across as weird, flaky and confusing. I might just be thinking too much, but sometimes I see myself as weird, flaky and confusing and assume that others get this impression as well. I don't know what to think about myself or what I'm doing here. I don't have these things figured out yet.

After I got swatted down at Bike Friday, I sat in my coffee shop and went on the internet. The place is called "The Hub" in homage to a local bicycle shop, Revolution Cycles, which was formerly located here. The Hub became a sort of home base for me in Eugene. A hub, you could say. The owner, Zach, is 28 and he appears to be a very mellow person with things figured out a little bit. We talked about how I didn't get the job, other possible jobs, life goals, stuff like that. I felt better. I drove to Ashland immediately.

I got here a few minutes before five. I'll say that I feel weird driving past hitchhikers. After hitchhiking myself, I should feel more compelled to stop and give rides. I drove past two very reasonable looking candidates, and felt guilty as hell. I picked up the third guy, but probably could have done just as well without him. He was going to Ashland, and I was only 15 miles away by then anyway.

Ashland is beautiful, and it is every bit as bizarre-friendly as it was before. It is wildly pedestrian-friendly here. Cars stop for you even if it looks like you might just be considering crossing the street some day. This is barely an exaggeration. Everyone here is grinning. This town is way smaller than Eugene, and the vibe is completely different. The vibe is fantastic. I feel invited and welcome. The streets to the west side of Main Street spiderweb up the side of a mountain. Steep windy residential streets eventually turn into a gravel road that twists up the mountain and brings you to a cluster of trail heads for mountain bicycling and hiking. It's fucking close to magic. I got elite parking on a reasonably flat stretch of windy residential street a piece up the mountain.

I swooped into town for coffee and wifi, and I got a delicious hot spinachy vegetable square from the co-op. I cannot underscore enough how friendly and happy everyone is here.

At 7:21pm I was walking into the long park along Ashland Creek. This must be one of the nicest parks I've seen. A mulch-covered path winds up along the creek, which is as clean and clear as anyone could want. There are big green lawns, playground equipment, and clean public restrooms.

After sundown, I set to the task of drinking at a bar. When I'm sitting alone at a bar, I have difficulty being as social as I want to be. Instead of looking for conversation, I tend to put off stressed out vibes. I've been told this. I've been told that I look very unhappy. I like the drinking part though. There was a girl at the bar who I should have talked to a lot sooner than I did. Part of my reluctance to start conversation is that I don't want to be a dude who goes around hitting on girls and making them feel uncomfortable. I don't do that, and I want it to be very clear which side of the fold I'm on. To be certain which side it is, I keep silent. Well this girl had no trouble talking, and we had a good time. Another dude later had no trouble smoking a joint outside. I had a little trouble finding my van.


Anonymous said...

ah man...... well I hope that you keep finding those perfect parks. I love your writing, chris. i can feel your loss and emancipation and little vertigo. at least thats what I feel when I read it. dig deep into that western conifer dirt for me.


Anonymous said...

Safe to say 'If they don't want you, you don't want them'.

Anonymous said...

I was referring to the job ofcourse.