Last summer we went to Portland for a weekend getaway. We have a favorite hotel on the riverfront that we always stay at which provides perfect scenery for my runs and is directly next to a street car stop. We love hopping onto the street car and being deposited right into the heart of downtown where our shenanigans begin.
On our first day in Portland we did just that. As we walked, we began to understand that our little people were weary and would have much more fun in the hotel pool than they were having walking with us. This dawned on us just one block shy of Powell’s Books, my most favorite place in Portland. But the needs of many very much outweigh the wants of one and so back to the hotel we went. While on the elevator my husband offered to take the kids swimming alone so that I could go back to the bookstore.
The thought of going out into the city on my own scared me a little. Then the idea that it scared me a little made me very scared. Twelve years ago I would not have been frightened to go into a large city by myself, I know this because I used to do just that once a week. Often after a long day of classes I would throw my backpack into my jeep, jump onto the freeway and head for Seattle. Once there I would head into a coffee shop and study there until I couldn’t make heads or tails of one more nursing diagnosis.
That day in the hotel elevator I realized that somehow, without realizing it, that this small part of my courage had quietly slipped away. There are very good reasons why this occurred, one being that in the last 12 years I have been working on other larger forms of courage. Like the courage to stand at the bedside during a code blue and calmly draw and administer medications in an attempt to save a life, or the courage to kiss my children good bye on their first day of school. If I was ever made to choose between my old courage and my new, I would gladly pick the new. The beauty is though, that I don’t have to choose; I can have them both.
So I helped Alan wrestle the children into their suits, kissed them all and headed back out. On the street car I looked around at my fellow passengers and shook my nerves away. Once inside Powell’s, I wandered through the aisles, picked up books for each person that I had left behind in the hotel, and then sat with a pile of my own to explore. Thumbing through the pages, I felt my old courage introduce itself to my new, then we sat there all together and enjoyed the day.