I’m in Bend, Oregon at present sitting on the balcony of our riverside hotel watching the Deschutes River flow by. Bend, a logging town once upon a time, is named for this river which runs for miles and miles and eventually bends, folding into another direction. It looks like dark green olive glass this morning, and it’s flow sounds like the roar of the ocean. With the scents of pine, juniper and sage flowing in on the breeze I’m having a pretty good moment of peace.

I’m finding myself in a reflective mood on this trip. Much has changed since a year ago, and I keep wandering down memory lane in my own mind as if I’m searching for the pieces of how life got from there to here. Don’t get me wrong, I like here, a great deal. It’s just that my sensitive, intuitive nature has this soul pressed need to process and make sense of everything, and so is doing exactly what it does best. Processing and making sense of the there to here by collecting the pieces of my memory mosaic.

I’m finding myself considering all sorts of things. How hard it can be to release who we were, so we can be who we need to be. How much love there has been in my life but also how much heart ache. How having someone in my life helps heal the pieces of ache I was struggling to heal myself, like a soft balm over deep scar tissue that generates new cells.

How long it has taken for me to give myself permission to receive this balm. Our tendency to look at the past through rose colored glasses and remember everything brighter and better than it was. My relationship to myself, my relationship to another, my friendships and relationships to others. How to make space for all of the above.

Deep stuff like that. The kinds of things you think about when you stare at green glass rivers. I’m searching for a bit of perspective I suppose to help me link all the pieces together and form a complete picture.

Speaking of perspective, it is always an exercise in perspective and flexibility when you see your partner through the eyes of others. Being in Bend, the city my fiancée moved from to be with me in Alaska, makes me see a man who is valued and respected in this community, who means something to the people he has relationships with. He is well loved, and we have received many invitations from friends wanting to not only see him, but meet the woman he moved to the far north for.

Despite the fact that I was the cause to his effect of leaving here, I’ve yet to detect anything other than absolute sincerity upon meeting me and genuine expressions of happiness for this new chapter in his life. You can tell a lot about a man’s character by who his friends are I believe, and I’ve found much goodness here.

It’s also given me a newfound appreciation for what it’s been like to leave one solid, comfortable life to start anew, and what it is like to try to integrate yourself into somebody else’s world while finding your own place in the community. It’s been challenging. I think until we’re forced to step out of our comfort zones, we forget just how hard it can be to make friends and find a place for ourself when friendships are already well formed and most people like to keep things the way they were.

It takes a fair amount of courage and the ability to try and put yourself out there when you are the new person trying to integrate into something already cemented. One must find a certain fluidity, adaptability and ability to simply go with the flow while still retaining a sense of themselves.

Just like a river. Rivers remain whole, even as they allow themselves to flow and change and bend. And just like a mosaic that holds the space of a full picture, yet continues to grow, change and evolve as each new piece is added. These entities know their job is about containment and expansion. Their energies are dynamic, process oriented and flow in the direction life takes them.

Such are the musings of the lovely Deschutes River and its melodic tones which have sung me to sleep the last two nights when I traded warmth for an open balcony door and a river rushed symphony.

Then again, like any other force in nature, the river always hold lessons for us if we choose to listen. It keeps flowing no matter what life tosses in it’s path, integrating itself around each new bend.

Like my fiancée keeps integrating himself, continuing to find his place in the bend of a new state, even as he embraces the warmth and friendship in a place he once called home. Like my collection of pieces that I’m patching together into a whole picture with each scribble and poem and musing and recollection, until I’ve satisfied my soul’s natural order of sense. I’ve realized there is no rush, life will keep flowing as life does, I just need to keep integrating last year’s twists and turns that folded life into a new direction.

In the meantime, Oregon has more adventures to hold as we make our way around the state finding new possibilities, new discoveries, new information for the heart. Always a new adventure, always a new piece, always something new waiting. Just around the river bend.