April 8, 2009 at 9:14 am (About Me) (, )

Sometimes, after you’ve just been sort of cruising along for awhile, not having to deal with anything out of the ordinary or anything unusual, life seems to just sort of hit you with a whole lot of things at once.  They’re not always bad (and in fact, sometimes they are good), but it can be surprising.  The past week has really been like that for me.  I can think of half a dozen different posts I could write just about the last 7 days.

For now, I think I’ll just stick to writing about Houston.  The strangest thing is that everything there was so incredibly familiar.  I knew it would be familiar, because I grew up there and haven’t honestly been gone that long, but it felt as though I’d never left.  The only way I could tell that I’d been gone for a year and a half was that my memory of street names was a little fuzzy at times.  But otherwise?  I could have just been returning from a short vacation.

I just never expected the familiarity and, really, the comfort of it all to hit me so hard.  I immediately remembered all the reasons why I’d wanted to go back, as well as most of the reasons I was happy to be away.  That’s what made me think so strongly that “this is home” – I wasn’t just remembering the positives so suddenly.

Even with all of that swirling around in my head, I’m extremely glad I was able to visit.  I was able to see nearly all the people I wanted to, and eat in most of the restaurants I’d been missing. 🙂  I had a lot of really good conversations with some people, and they’ve given me a lot to think about.  I’ve been reminded of just how much I appreciate some people, and just how much I think I’m needed by others.

My flight home was a little rocky, but only because the whole trip started out late, which meant that my close connection became even closer, and my bag didn’t make it on the same flight as me.  Fortunately, it arrived in Portland several hours after I did, and I’m supposed to get it via FedEx this morning.

But the most amazing thing about this whole trip is that I don’t know that I realized just how…torn I am between where I live now and where I grew up.  Because that instant familiarity I had with Houston?  I had it when I got home, too.  Even though I was gone for nearly a week, it was as if I’d never left.  I slipped right back in to my life here with barely a stutter.

How is it that one person can feel so strongly about two places?  And yet, they don’t actually compete with each other.  I feel equally strongly about Oregon and Houston, but it’s still different.  Houston is and always will be the home of my childhood, and I’ll always feel a very close affinity with it for that reason alone.  Oregon is the place where I’ve settled into my adult self.  And I’ve been and will continue to be happy here.  I think I’ll always want to be able to visit both places, for the people and just for the places themselves.

But it struck me that I’d really better get used to this feeling, because it’s only going to amplify as I get older.  Because of the circumstances of my life, I will not be able to settle anywhere permanently for awhile, unless I just get really lucky.  I will almost certainly spend my 20s being relatively nomadic.  Unless I just refuse to put down roots in all the places I live, pieces of my life will always have an indelible association with the location where they happened.  Certain times of my life will always be wrapped up in where I was living at the time.  I know this is completely normal, but I don’t know that I really understood exactly what that meant until now.

Fortunately, the idea of all that doesn’t scare me as much as it once might have.  I’ve proven to myself that I can make a home in a new place that I’ve never been to before, and that I can be happy with it.  It’s frequently hard, and it often sucks, but I’m doing it.  Surprisingly, I actually look forward to doing it again.  If anyone had told me I’d say that 5 years ago, I’d have called them crazy.  But even knowing that it will be hard and it will often suck, I still look forward to the experience.  Maybe it’s false optimism, but I think I sometimes need to be forced out of my comfort zone.  I know that every time I ever have been in my life, it’s been good for me and I’ve ended up liking myself that much better.

And you know, if being happy is living truly without regrets (and not just saying that because you wish you could), then I am.  When I look back at my life so far, the times when I have been the most dissatisfied and unhappy are those times when I wished I could have done things differently.  The times when I have been the most comfortable in my own skin, and the most happy, are when I think I did everything just exactly right.  At the moment, if I were to have a chance to live the past couple of years again, I don’t think I’d change a single thing.

Who’d have thought that one small vacation could teach me so much?

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2 Comments

  1. Kristan said,

    “How is it that one person can feel so strongly about two places?”

    I felt/wondered that as soon as I moved away for college. But even more than Pittsburgh, I feel in my heart that Madrid is also my home, and I miss it terribly every day.

    These sentiments you’re expressing make me smile, and remind me of why I like to travel so much. And why I still hope to live many other places in my life.

  2. Mary said,

    See, that’s the thing. I don’t miss any place terribly anymore. It’s much more mild than that. I missed home a little while I was in Houston, and I sometimes miss Houston a little when I’m at home. It’s just that, apparently, I sink right back into whatever rhythm I established whenever I’m in a place.

    At least, that’s what happens when I’m comfortable with where I’m living. I was very homesick for awhile, because this didn’t feel like home. But now that it does, I actively miss Houston far less than I used to.

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