I’ve been trying to figure out a way to write this part of the story so that I can move on and I think I finally figured it out. I also figured out a fun writing style that I think I’ll stick with for a while. I’ll be sending this to Oregon, and I’ll make sure to post the response if I get one!
It has taken me a while to tell you how much you meant to me, I apologize for the tardiness of this letter.
Oregon, thank you for your part in making me the person I am today. Without you I would have remained blinded by privilege, even as a black, queer woman. But because some of your truest Oregonians believe that because they compost, recycle, voted for Obama and/or drive a Prius that by association they are incapable of racism that my blinders were thrown off time and time again. Seeing the magnitude of disappointment and sorrow after racist pranks, and then the people and institutions who supported and protected these pranks crumbled my faith in humanity for a time. But don’t worry Oregon, this also made me able to relate to others who have felt the same due an underrepresented identity of their own. For this I will be eternally grateful.
While in your luscious, green state, Oregon, I was introduced to people who had found a better way to provide healthcare than the traditional medical model. These people were using a Health at Every Size® approach in their care. After adopting it myself, I quickly saw the difference that I made in my clients’ lives when I stopped using weight as a health outcome or marker of success and began working with my clients to make sustainable lifestyle changes. Because of you Oregon, I moved to the California Bay Area to pursue a fulltime practice using Health at Every Size and have felt so affirmed by the choice. I am now seeking to understand how weight stigma and race intersect, and it was you who lead me down this path.
Thanks Oregon for my clear understanding of the difference between rain and showers, for my knowledge of different types of pollen, pollen counts, allergy remedies, asthma attacks, and how to make clay soil less dense. Thank you dearly for my ability to exercise in the rain and my appreciation for the sun every hour (okay, minute) that it shines through the clouds.
Without you, Oregon, I may never have known that my body was meant for riding uphill and sprinting for the end. I also would not know the exhilaration from riding in a paceline, and that the best way to eat fudge is 75% of my way through a race. I would also not have the friends I made on that cycling team, and the others I met as they passed through Eugene on their way to other life adventures, and even those who have stayed. I wouldn’t know that a white man could be my biggest advocate, and best friend. Most of all I thank you, for if it wasn’t for you, I would not have met my wife (we did wed there, but it wasn’t a legal marriage, I hear you’re working on this).
So hats off to you, Oregon. You may not stand out on the national stage, but you’re a standout in my book. Without you I wouldn’t be, well, me.
Jessica Wilson, MS RD