A City to Call Home
We all encounter moments in our lives that define us. One day, you're living with your parents in your sleepy little hometown and the next, you're driving across the country to start a new life in a city you've never even seen before. This is the beauty of being alive. A year ago, I never would have thought I'd be living on my own in a city 2900 miles away from the only home I'd ever known. A year ago, I never would have thought that I would fulfill my lifelong dream of driving across the U.S. before my 23rd birthday. And yet, here I am. It's been seven months since I took the leap and I still can't believe I did it. Lately, I view my life in two parts: Before the Move and After the Move. That was my defining moment. It was the fork in the road that changed everything. My life before Portland feels like little more than a distant dream. And the longer I live here, the more this place starts to feel like it could be home.
The Big Move. That was in October. It's June now, and so much has happened since then. My life has been a strange, unexpected, beautiful mess and I've been so busy living it that I've yet to slow down and pay attention to the way this place is changing me. For this reason, I've decided to make the upcoming month a time for reflection and personal growth. I know that these aren't things that one can experience on a set schedule, but I also know that there are steps that I can take to bring a sense of focus back into my life. I'm only seven days in and I've already stumbled upon a fair few tiny epiphanies. For the first time, I am aware of the dichotomy between who I am in Portland and who I was in New York. I am realizing that the person I am and the person I used to be are drifting further and further apart. As time passes, they are becoming strangers. And this is okay. Growth is okay. Change can be good.
On October 30th, I wrote:
I'm in Portland trying to lock down an apartment and anticipating the life I'm about to start here. I'm excited for all of the new things I'll have the opportunity to try and I'm excited for the new people I'll get to share my life with. Sure, the thought of stepping outside of my comfort zone and opening myself up to these things is mildly terrifying, but I am living proof that the best things happen when you conquer your fears and step out into the unknown. I know it's only been a short while since I left my home, but I can already feel myself becoming the person I'm meant to be. I can't wait to meet her.
I remember this clearly; I was sitting on my bed in our tiny Airbnb trying to make sense of everything that had happened in the days that came before. I was so nervous. I was so unsure of how to even begin a new life. I was certain that I'd be broke within six months and be forced move back in with my parents in New York. But the moment I headed west, I promised myself that I'd keep an open heart and an open mind. I vowed that I'd let people in and overcome my fear of sharing myself with others. I kept the promise. And somewhere along the way, I began to build a life here.
My life in Portland started out really great; things were so great that it almost seemed too good to be true. But all of a sudden, everything went downhill at once and I began to doubt my decision to move here in the first place. I desperately needed something to look forward to, so I booked a flight back to my hometown. Two months later, I'd find myself sprinting barefoot through the airport at 6am trying to catch that flight. When I got home, it felt like I'd never left. It felt like I'd simply put my life on pause and could pick up right where I left off with the click of a button. But that wasn't the case. I left that town and it went on without me. The people I'd once spent all of my time with had these new, unfamiliar lives. Then again, so did I. It took me all but a few hours in New York for me to realize that my world now existed in Oregon.
When I returned to Portland after a blissful week in my hometown, I felt like I was experiencing my new home city with brand new eyes. Everything was beautiful and wonderful and I was suddenly completely in love with this place. I was suddenly more comfortable with my life than I'd been since I moved here. Revisiting my roots was the revitalizing experience I needed to ease the feeling of doubt that had been plaguing my mind during the previous weeks. It made me painfully aware of the fact that wherever you go, you take yourself with you. And never have I been more certain that I'm exactly who and where I'm supposed to be.