Where is home?

by Kim on February 22, 2012 · 52 comments

Like any big life change, leaving Oregon has filled me with a mixture of anticipation and nostalgia.  I want time to speed up and slow down simultaneously. Like some cartoon road race, I envision myself hitting the gas and then slamming the brakes, my neck flying forward then snapping back again as I take off in a jerky hobble towards the setting sun.

As excited as I am to start this next chapter of our lives, I am so sad to leave Oregon.

People ask us: Will you come back?  We don’t know.  I can’t imagine living anywhere else.  And yet, our parents are getting older, perhaps we should move nearer to Ohio?  Or, maybe we’d like a place with mountains and year-round sunshine: Denver?  Boulder? Maybe we’ll find some mountain town or beach oasis somewhere else in the world?  The possibilities are wide open.

Brian and I both grew up in SW Ohio, only 45 minutes apart from each other.  We met in college at Ohio University.  We fell in love and moved across the country together to Portland, Oregon.

Ohio is where I was born, where my family lives.  Oregon is where I came alive, where I began to understand that my life could be exactly as I dreamed.  Ohio is where my roots are. Oregon is where my heart is.  Which is home?  

For a long time we struggled with the decision to sell our Portland house.  It wasn’t the money we’d inevitably lose or the work that needed to be done to get it on the market, but rather, the thought of giving up ownership of our own little piece of Oregon that was so hard to come to terms with.

Our families will always call us back to Ohio, bleary-eyed and jet-lagged, no matter where in the world we are.

But if we sold our home in Portland, what would bring us back to Oregon?  What would physically tie us to this place we dearly love?

We eventually decided to sell anyway, choosing freedom over the security of a home that would bind us to one place.  But I love being bound to Oregon.  I could live here forever and be happy.

13 weeks left and I’m mourning our loss, even temporarily, of this wonderful place.  I’m going to miss our amazing friends, whom I’ve grown to love as family.  I’ll miss the beautiful mountains and the great beer, the forest runs with my girls, the walk home from work, the blissful, youthful energy that beats through this city when the sun starts to shine.

When people ask me, as they certainly will, where I am from- what will I say?  Am I from Ohio or Oregon?

The real answer, I suppose, exists somewhere in the middle.

But unless they have the time to hear the story of how I am from two places, a midwestern girl with a west coast spirit, I believe I will answer Oregon.  I’m from Oregon.  You must go there, I’ll say.  It’s a magical place.

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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Bethany ~ twoOregonians February 22, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Indeed it is…a magical place. Wishing you two a beautiful conclusion to this season of life in Oregon. Soak it up! (Rain and all ;)) Soon, “home” will be turned topsy-turvy, and you’ll be spreading the Oregonian-cheer far and wide!

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Kim February 22, 2012 at 8:21 pm

It is certainly raining… I bet you miss the rain, don’t you ;)

I think we’ve decided that we are going to bring the I heart Oregon stickers with us to pass out as gifts.

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Carmel February 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm

And you’re a damn hippie like the rest of us and it just suits you. I wonder that myself, but I’ve always been in the NW and I love it here. However, who knows what adventure will present itself to you? Just be open to wherever life takes you. You’ll always have family in both places. And of COURSE you’d come visit regardless :)

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Kim February 22, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Yes, yes, I know we will always be tied here. I swear, we have met THE MOST AMAZING PEOPLE (you included, of course). But it is still so hard to leave. This place has infiltrated my soul.

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Carmel February 23, 2012 at 7:20 am

It’s the mold. It’s taken over. Just kidding…it is an amazing place to live. My mom was shocked when I called myself an Oregonian this weekend, though. I think she thought I still considered myself a Washingtonian.

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Kim February 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm

So you do consider yourself an Oregonian? My friends that I met in Ohio all tell me they still consider me an Ohio girl. It’s funny because I don’t think of myself that way at all. But you are everything you have ever been, so I’m still an Ohio girl too, I guess.

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Jason February 22, 2012 at 6:11 pm

After 40 years in Oregon, ANYWHERE else is starting to look really good. Preferably somewhere warm and sunny year round!!! We don’t plan on coming back after we complete our RTW.

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Kim February 22, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Jason, I know you are over Oregon!!! I’m a girl from Ohio and I still can’t get over the beauty of this place. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of it.

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Jason February 22, 2012 at 9:40 pm

I kinda sound jaded, eh? I think most people that grew up here are now jaded. This place is not the same as it once was and we hate to see it the way it is now. And then to top THAT off, the weather sucks ass! :)

Have you seen this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lH3AYeHOV9M

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Kim February 23, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Ha, yeah. I’ve seen it.

I hope you land just where you want to, Jason.

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Jordan February 22, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I’ve been following your blog for a few months, and we seem to have a lot in common. We close on our house (that we will be losing buckets of money on) in three weeks and are departing for our RTW trip a month or two later. We grew up in SE Ohio also, and have lived in the Chicago area for a few years now. I don’t know what we’ll call home once we’re gone… I think we have yet to find it!

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Kim February 22, 2012 at 8:24 pm

Jordan! Sorry about the buckets of money lost. If it makes you feel better, I honestly don’t miss the money now that it is gone (though it KILLED me to lose money on our place at the time). Where are you from in SE Ohio??? And do you know where you will be headed first? We definitely have a lot in common. Perhaps we’ll see you on the road!

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Jordan February 23, 2012 at 5:18 am

We’ve pretty much come to terms with losing the money, but it will still be hard to sign over that check! We are from Zanesville, and headed to South America first (probably Quito, but we’ll figure that out once we start looking at tickets).

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Kim February 23, 2012 at 5:42 pm

Oh, hell yes, it’s hard!

My Dad’s family is from Zanesville, I spent a lot of time there as a kid.

We’re starting in Quito too!

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Maureen February 23, 2012 at 5:18 am

Kim! Oh, how I can relate! Me: Born in Japan (Air Force Brat), growing-up years in Washington, DC and Boston, years on the road around the world for work, finally landing in Toronto and now splitting my time between Toronto (techincally home right now), Boston, Crete and anyplace else my husband and I decide to see between to pit-stops.

So, where is my “home?” I often refer to Boston as home because most of my side of the family – and therefore my history – is there. But I have started to wonder what I will call home when I get older (hopefully not much more) and more settled (if possible!). And where will I be buried when I die? Isn’t that supposed to be near your “home?” And what if I give my body to science and am not buried at all? Argghh…too much to contemplate. So for now, the world is my home, I guess.

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Kim February 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Yes, I guess the world will be my home too, and I will give pieces of my heart to every place I fall in love with.

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Hannah February 23, 2012 at 2:29 pm

I love the word ‘home’. Home is wherever you want it to be. I am sure you will make your home in a myriad of incredible places, even if only for a few days. You can lose your heart to as many corners of the world as you chose :)

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Kim February 23, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I love that word too, Hannah. Randomly, I also love the word “breeze.” Both words sound so comforting.

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Hunter February 23, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Born On the Sunshine coast QLD and now living about 1000km north and I do get homesick. When I was younger I had the mentality that I never want to live here on the coast, but now I couldnt think of anything better.

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Kim February 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Yep, I guess our idea of home changes over time too.

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Maryjean February 23, 2012 at 4:09 pm

Kim ~ I can totally relate to the split feeling of not being able to wait to leave and the I better savor every moment while I’m here! I miss Oregon so much. This past summer I had to be careful to not tell people that yes, Alaska is beautiful, but Oregon is SO MUCH more beautiful. Sorry to anyone who loves Alaska. Sure, it is breathtakingly beautiful, but it doesn’t compare to Oregon in my mind. :D Happy Countdown!

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Kim February 23, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Now I HAVE to see Alaska to see how it stacks up. Happy countdown to you, too.

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Nomadic Samuel February 23, 2012 at 6:18 pm

This article had me pondering where I consider home. I’ve lived abroad for 6 years in a variety of different places. Although I certainly love a lot of places I’ve lived I don’t know if I identify anywhere in particular as where I consider my home.

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Kim February 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm

What about where you grew up? Is that home to you? Just curious how others deal with this dichotomy of where they grew up vs. where they live now (if it isn’t the same).

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Karenmarybutterfly February 23, 2012 at 6:40 pm

You grew up in Ohio and you are from Oregon. :) Nicely told story. I enjoyed this. My husband is French he says he is from California (with his extremely thick accent). but, originally from France. After growing up in California it’s very difficult for me to live in rainy areas (France…8 years) I just can’t get used to it. My husband is already spoiled after just 8 years in California now.Oregon has always had a nice feel to it. I can see why you loved it.

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Kim February 23, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Yes! So simple and perfect. Why didn’t I think of that? I grew up in Ohio and I am from Oregon.

California is paradise… I couldn’t imagine moving for Cali to a rainy climate. Glad both of you are back in California and spoiled by the sunshine! I could use a bit of that right now myself…

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Sarah Somewhere February 24, 2012 at 1:53 am

A poignant post Kim, just remember Oregan (and Ohio) will always be there if you want to return, but for now, the world beckons… For some weird reason, I picture Bali as being as my home. I visited Ubud last year, and harbor this fantasy of living there, writing, teaching yoga… It will be interesting to see what the future holds for you guys (and for us!). If it’s any consolation I found the final week before departure one full of grief and mixed emotion, so take care of yourself x x x

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Kim February 24, 2012 at 8:08 am

It sounds like Bali is your future home :)

I’m sure the grief will only get worse as we get closer to leaving. It’s amazing how sad you can be about something even when it is exactly what you want to do. Such is life.

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Ajay February 24, 2012 at 3:55 am

I always introduce myself as being from Mumbai, India and living in DC Metro. I cannot NOT give credit to both these places which have had a significant impact on my life and how I have grown as a person over the years. In future, who knows, “Originally from Mumbai, India, but living around the world now” sounds sexy to me ;-)

Ciao
Ajay

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Kim February 24, 2012 at 8:09 am

Ha, that definitely sounds sexy!!

Here in Oregon I say that I am originally from Ohio. But once we’re out of Oregon it just seems like a lot of explanation. Saying “I’m from Ohio but spent the last 8 years in Oregon” just doesn’t seem to give Oregon the justice it deserves. Ah, semantics. I guess I don’t really need to explain it to anyone anyway, I know the complex explanation of where I am from.

Thanks Ajay (and everyone) for helping me to work this through in my head.

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Ali February 24, 2012 at 6:56 am

Home is a weird thing. I lived in NJ until I was 15, and I’m very proud of being a Jersey girl and I want people to know it’s not a dirty turnpike and that it’s not the “Jersey Shore.” But I lived in GA longer than anywhere else, that’s where most of my friends are, it’s where I went to college, realistically it seems like the place I should say I’m from. Now that I live in Germany, “home” means either here or the US depending on the context of what I’m talking about. It can get really confusing sometimes! But in the end, home is with Andy no matter where we are.

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Kim February 24, 2012 at 8:11 am

Yeah, I agree. In the end, home is where the heart is.

I lived in Ohio for over 2/3 of my life, but so much of my identity is wrapped up in Oregon. I guess I just feel like Oregon suits me, I never quite felt like I belonged in Ohio. I love Ohio because my family is there, and because it’s where I grew up, but Oregon is who I am inside.

The question is more complex than meets the eye!

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Dana de Brito February 24, 2012 at 7:59 am

Home is a strange place – but as cheesy and cliche as it sounds… it’s always where your family is! It’s where someone will always feed you dinner and let you stay the night…
As the Canadian half of a Canadian/Brazilian couple… home is more than one place for us!

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Kim February 24, 2012 at 8:13 am

It will (is already) more than once place for us too! That’s the thing, I know that the place that will always take us in is Ohio– but I feel so weird only considering Ohio home. Argh! I definitely have more than one home, and that may grow as we travel.

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Rhonda February 24, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Great post..it is interesting in what we consider “home”. We, too, missed aspects of Portland when we were gone… mostly friends & family, and yet in my case as long as Jim is there I am home.
I do love the quote ” Every Dreamer knows it is entirely possible to be homesick for a place you’ve never been to, perhaps more homesick than for familiar ground” – Judith Thurman -and that is what I feel most. My spirit craves the new and unexplored and the home I have here can be tedious because I am drawn to “something” else. There is no high like arriving in a new country where I know no one, have no idea where I”m going and don’t speak the language.
Enjoy home here while you’re here. Enjoy home in Ohio when you’re visiting family. And then enjoy home on the road while you’re out finding your destiny!

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Kim February 24, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Rhonda, I love that quote, it’s wonderful.

My homesickness to be places I have never been is what is leading us out on this journey. I think, like most things, my fear of missing “home” will be greater than my experience of missing it.

I will take your advice and enjoy all of my iterations of home. Oregon, Ohio, my tent in the backcountry, my stiff bed in hostels around the world. Like you, home is where Brian is, but it is also every place I have left a bit of my heart.

It’s such an interesting thing to ponder…

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Miriam March 2, 2012 at 5:05 am

Kim – I recently discovered your blog, and am so glad I did! Thank you for being willing to share your journey.

I just have to chime in on this topic, and Rhonda’s quote (so perfect!) because it gets to the heart of something I’ve felt keenly my entire life, but have difficulty articulating to others.

As a native Portlander, I appreciate the things that make it a unique and special place, but I’ve always felt awkward calling it “home.” It IS where I was born, but I’ve always had the feeling that home is “out there” pulling at me insistently, and feeling incredibly “homesick for places I’ve never been.” I always try to explain that the world itself feels like home, and I want to experience more of it, rather than be limited to one “home.”

I feel this even more strongly now, having lived outside the US for the last 6 months, and facing a return to Portland soon. It’s a challenge to answer the question “when are you coming home?” or hear people say things like “don’t forget where home is!” because what home means to me is entirely different! Home is wherever my husband and I are, and often we feel most at home on the way to somewhere we’ve never been.

So thank you to Rhonda for sharing that quote, and thank you Kim for writing about the paradoxical experience of home. I look forward to hearing more about how your thoughts on home evolve as you begin your adventure!

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Kim March 2, 2012 at 10:10 am

Ah, I understand this and thank you for sharing that story. I felt that way when I left Ohio and people would say “don’t forget about home.” I think that a lot of my identity is tied to Oregon, which makes it harder to leave. I’m sure that as I evolve my identity will also be tied to the great, big world out there, and so, as you say, my thoughts on home will continue to change.

I hope the transition back to Oregon is smooth for you and that the sun is shining when you return!

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Manda February 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I know what you mean of feeling a connection for two palces.
Im from NZ but I spent 2 years in the USA and I feel like Chicago is still home to me for so many reasons – yet half the people I knew there are no longer there that made my conenction what it was at the time.
Its funny how you feel these connections to places – the events and memories that hold you to it.

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Kim February 24, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Yes, it’s very interesting. Many of my friends are gone from Ohio, but my family is there, so that will always be “home.” I hope my Oregon friends remain here so that I can come “home” to them, if that’s what happens.

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Patricia GW February 28, 2012 at 7:03 am

Home is where the heart is. You don’t have to be limited to one spot – Ohio, Oregon, and even Antigua can feel like home, as long as you’re around ones you love and feel happy. :) It’s hard to leave one go to another, because you always end up missing the other, but your life is enriched by every place you find that resonates in your heart like ‘home’ :)

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Kim February 28, 2012 at 4:53 pm

I know you are right! We don’t have to limit ourselves to only one “home.” One thing is for sure: Oregon will always be one of the (possibly many) homes we will have in this lifetime, and it is hard to leave.

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Cherina February 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm

I cant totally understand your reluctance to leave Oregon. Portland is a fantastic city. I have been really thinking a lot about the idea of home lately too.
I know this sounds corny as hell but I really do think home is where your heart is – which can vary from week to week when you are travelling. So you can make you travels your ‘home’, even if it is temporary. Portland or Ohio will always be there for you to come back to if you wish it :)

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Kim March 1, 2012 at 7:56 pm

No, no, I don’t think it’s corny. I think it’s true. I really do. And your heart can be in many places at once. I’m trying to remember that… :)

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Miel March 9, 2012 at 9:02 am

Being from Oregon and not having lived there in 8 years is a similar challenge. Luckily I do have family to tie me there, but even after all this time, people ask where I’m from, and I pause.

Home is where the heart is.

Miel

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Kim March 11, 2012 at 11:12 am

Yes, when it gets down to it, home is where the heart is.

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Darrell Norman March 16, 2012 at 9:48 pm

It’s really touching! I can understand your feeling of shifting a new place from the previous.There are lot of memories and from which to be departed is very painful. But you can hope for a new start that may bring fresh happiness for you. Good wishes for you.

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Kim March 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm

Thanks Darrell. I hope there is a lot of fresh happiness in store for the future.

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