It was my 30th birthday. My (then) boyfriend and I had arrived in Portland, OR just one week before – following a week-long cross-country road trip. Looking to escape the relentless heat and geriatric wrath of South Florida, we set out for Oregon in search of a place we could call home. But as I stared into my plate of eggs and breakfast sausage he had lovingly served me in honor of the special occasion, I felt my throat close, tears well in my eyes and the unshakeable feeling of doubt.
Well, this is some real Eat, Pray, Love BULLshit, I thought to myself.
Maybe it was the gravity of the situation sinking in – I’d essentially catalyzed the move, causing us to uproot ourselves from everything that was comfortable and familiar. Or maybe, deep down, I knew it wasn’t going to work from the start. Whatever it was, I didn’t like it…it was not the happy-go-lucky-skipping-through-farmer’s-markets-with baskets-of-organic-kale-lifestyle I envisioned for us! I wanted to go home…
Fast forward to nearly one year later and, as you may have guessed, shit went pear-shaped…
And now, as I sit in an apartment that was once ours in a place far from all my family and friends, I find myself at the ripe age of 30 and three-quarters asking: “Where the fuck is home?”
In 2010, I moved (also on a whim) from Florida to San Francisco, where I lived for three awesome years until I quit my high-paying advertising gig to backpack around Southeast Asia for four months. Then, I bummed around Tahoe for a winter (one of the worst snow seasons ever, I might add) working as a ski lift operator one day a week and eating copious amounts of Mexican food and pizza from Front Street Station (that Spicy Thai Chicken though). It was a rough job, but somebody had to do it.
After Tahoe, I went to South Africa for three months to work with a non-profit organization – a sector I’d always had a passion for and a decision that would set the course for the rest of my life…or at least a hefty chunk of it. For the next two years, I bounced back and forth between South Africa and Florida until I’d had enough of the aggressive drivers, reggaeton, and swamp ass – at which point, I chose the polar opposite of places to reside – Portland, OR.
“What made you choose Portland?” people always ask. To which I reply, “I can’t afford California.” Alright, that’s not the only reason but it was a big part of it. I wanted friendly people, open spaces, open minds, and more than anything, a sense of community and belonging.
The next question is always, “How are you liking it?” To which I reply, “Fuckkkkkkk THIS winter.” And the response is generally something along the lines of: “Oh yeah, this was the worst EVER.” If your car is covered in two inches of ice once, shame on you for choosing to live in a place that is notoriously cold and rainy. If your car is covered in two inches of ice twice, get the hell out of there.
But, truth be told, there are quite a lot of things to enjoy about it – the food, the scenery, the general mindset – which leads me right back to the question of, “Where is home?” Is it more important to be near family? Or is it more important to find a like-minded tribe or a geographical location that suits your interests and lifestyle? Or should I stop pissing and moaning because I have a loving and supportive family and have the freedom to choose where I want to live? I think we can all agree that the latter is certainly in order.
But as a single person with no kids and a burning desire for both adventure and a home with a blender, I find myself asking a lot of questions about who I am, what I value, and what type of lifestyle I want to lead. I don’t have the answers yet, and truthfully, I’m not sure I ever really will have comprehensive and definitive answers to those questions, but in the meantime, I’ve vowed to live life to the fullest and practice listening to my instincts because more often than not, they’re right.