Updated: Apr 7, 2019
Grandma Jane had, I don't want to call it art, a very old-lady-esque plaque on her wall in what was the formal living room of our house. The room I sat watching countless hours of Nickelodeon in until someone came to visit and I had to either sit bored on the couch and listen, or go somewhere else to play. It said: Home Is Where The Heart Is. It was little, had a cute little house with a chimney with smoke hearts drifting out of it. Looked like something she bought from a flee market back in the late 60's.
We all know that saying. We've all heard it somewhere.
I've spent years of my life trying to find my own definition for the words "HOME" and "FAMILY". At least in my book I talk about what family really means to me.
But home... I'm still figuring this one out.
We recently moved from Utah to Oregon. Utah has been the only home I've ever known. My family is there, my kid's family and friends are there, my husbands family is there, and yet... I was not home. We could have moved anywhere, how Oregon came about is still a little funny to me. I spent years saying "I couldn't live in the Pacific North West. It's too grey!!! I would die!!!" little did I know, I would feel more at home in this rainy part of the country then anywhere I have ever visited in my life. I found my home.
We planned a spring break trip back to Utah to visit family. I knew it would feel weird going back for the first time in four months, and not going "home". And I did start driving to our old house from the coffee shop the first day I was there to drop the kids off at home... before my daughter caught me and said "ugh, Mom, where are you going?" ummm... the long way, I'm taking the long way.
What I discovered in Utah is that it's still home. It's home in a way nowhere else will ever be. I know those mountains and roads like the back of my hand, and I look forward to visiting a couple of times a year, but I got homesick. I remember feeling homesick for my mother when I was a kid having sleepovers at my cousin's house. I got that painful, twisted gut feeling all over again. I needed, almost desperately, to go back home to Oregon. To my rainy cottage tucked into the trees, where the coast is only a 90 minute drive away any day of the week. Where the city is only fifteen minutes away if I'm in the mood to be surrounded by people and life. There's so much here that I missed, and I wanted to come back.
I'm not sure I can articulate it beyond that.
I've struggled for years to understand my place in the world. To know what family and home means to me and understand why family doesn't also mean home. For a lot of people it does, but I left mine in Utah and I wondered if it would hurt to see them and feel their pain that I left. The family I have is amazing. They've known for years that one day I would leave, and they've let it be OK, and so it is. It's OK. It's OK that I'll never come back permanently. And now the word family continues to change as I watch these incredible people support me whether I'm visiting or living my life in a different state several hours away.
Home and family mean different things to different people, so what makes Oregon more home then Utah? Well, the culture is incredibly different. I did face some culture shock, but in a way that left me saying daily "I love this place!". Everything feels so genuine here. The people are genuine. What was funny about this was being part of the city page on Facebook before I even left Utah. Their interactions were different. Everyone is constantly looking out for each other, and there's a very huge pay-it-forward mentality here. When a random stranger engages me in conversation anywhere that I find myself, I feel the same as them, not different, not judged. Everyone is so confident here. Everyone is different and they embrace it. They are who they are, and there's this assumption that everyone's fine with it, because everyone is. I love it here! Also wine in grocery stores. Weed is legal. People are fucking NICE! The grass really is greener here all the time! The rain is soft and warm on your face. The ocean is RIGHT THERE!!! When the sun comes out in the middle of winter, it is glorious! No one is trying to buy your friendship through pyramid schemes. And I can safely put my pain behind me. Pain follows you to an extent, but I found a place that can be mine, and not theirs. I guess that was important to me.
It's terribly complex to decide where you belong in the world, and I'm very lucky to have the opportunity to try to find out. What does Home mean to you?
I'm going to spend some time coming up in other posts talking about support. We lost our sweet dog Lady while we were in Utah. It was so unexpected and tore our hearts open. Through that experience I realized some painful things about myself, because I felt so out of control of what was happening. I talk so much about how support from other's is crucial, but I found myself pushing people away... can I even handle being supported?