On Settling, && What Makes A Place Feel Like Home

So here’s the thing: I don’t feel settled.

And I haven’t in a very, very long time.
Three years ago I moved out of my parents’ place to attend University, where it took me almost 3 months to embrace change and feel at home. I made fantastic friendships, was involved in clubs, and stayed busy with school and two jobs.
And then 6 months later I made the very tough decision to move back home, which didn’t feel like home at all. I felt like I had no space to myself, I missed my friends from high school and from ORU, I was bored out of my mind only working 25 hours at a restaurant and not attending school, and I was no longer a part of a Christian community.

It took at least a year to feel at home again. I made new friends, found a second job as a Starbucks barista, rented my first apartment, and adopted a kitten.

Somewhere within that year of discontentment I visited Portland and fell in love with this place. I don’t remember exactly what I loved about it in four days (I’m going to say it had a great deal to do with it being so green outside, the weather, Powell’s books, and my many walks along Waterfront), but I remember deciding I wanted to make this place my new home. As everyone knows, “Portland” and “moving” were probably my top two most frequently used words for the last year; it was all I could talk about and everything I did was centered around  “I’m moving to Portland in ‘x-amount of months'”. It dictated what I spent my money on, the people I allowed myself to get close to, and the lack of community I cultivated for myself. Honestly, I didn’t allow Texas to feel like home; I was permanently living in a “transition” mindset.

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The funny thing is that when moving became real- when I returned home from Haiti, started selling my furniture, buying plane tickets, and packing up all of my belongings- it suddenly weighed on me that Texas did feel like home, and I was choosing to leave. Again.
Memories of last year still play in my head like a movie: my vacation to Los Angeles where I spent 4 days on a beach, and being a camp counselor and getting to know some pretty awesome teenagers and spending my Wednesday nights with them, the entertaining camping trip I took with Kylie and Katherine to Arkansas where we learned how to change a tire and went spelunking, meeting Ashley and sharing a bottle of wine with her after a long night at work, working 70 hour weeks and becoming so sleep deprived that I had to quit one of my jobs, showing off my dance skills and playing Apples to Apples with my siblings Christmas Eve, seeing Les Miserables on Christmas Day, turning 21 surrounded by a bunch of my favorite people, my family + Kylie cruise vacation in January, getting promoted, Hurricane Harbor for Caleb’s birthday and laying out by the pool drinking screwdrivers with the siblings.

So now that I’m in Portland the question I get asked most is “Why did you move here?” and I think of all of those memories and I draw a blank. I just laugh and say something lame like, “I like the weather better” or “I’m finishing my Social Work degree”. Although these are true statements, they don’t make me feel like I’m home.

I know now that the only thing that will make me feel at home is time and a little effort. There are glimpses of what being settled here feels like, and those encourage my heart. It’s receiving my boots in the mail, going grocery shopping and cooking meals, attending classes, joining a bowling league, going to Yoga in the morning, cleaning my apartment and having dishes to wash, connecting with my coworkers, being excited about my new career opportunities with Starbucks, and having a best friend I can sit on the couch with and cry and laugh and drink with.

Despite all of the emotional upheaval that this move has caused, I know that I made the right choice. I still don’t have the answer to “Why did you move here?” but I can answer the question “Are you happy you moved here?” with a confident “YES”. I’ve felt unsettled and then settled and unsettled for so much of my life and fought and embraced change and I’ve learned something very important: anywhere will do. Anywhere can feel like home. It just comes down to the fact that I didn’t want to finish my degree there or raise kids there. 10 years from now, hopefully I’ll be married and have kids and live in Oregon and drive to the west coast and take trips to British Columbia and Seattle and I’ll be a Licensed Social Worker with the State of Oregon. And I’ll be settled.

~*~*~*~

In other news:
– I’m so thankful to WordPress for my blog being “Freshly Pressed” and I welcome all of you beautiful people who, as a result, are following along on my journey.
– “Syllabus” week is done! 9 more weeks to go in this term. Sociology is fantastic and I’ve determined to make the most of my 2 years of required Spanish. My goal is to set aside my fear of speaking and make mistakes for the sake of learning a new language!
– I love my new Starbucks store. I’m so excited to be a part of this team and work for such a dedicated manager!
– I joined a bowling league with some of my co-workers from the other store I was working at. Games start this Wednesday!

I’m so thankful and humbled this week: for friends – new and old- , for school, for health, for employment.
So much love. So much hope. 

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4 thoughts on “On Settling, && What Makes A Place Feel Like Home

  1. Ok, this may seem crazy, but I wish I could introduce you to my lovely friend Debbie who lives in Portland. Just reading your blog reminds me of her introspection. You guys would like each other, I’m sure. PLUS she’d help you with your hunt for a home church. Best of luck!

  2. I have moved several times, and I know the feeling and the usual questions. It can be tough, but honestly there’s nothing that makes a person grow more than moving out of their comfort zone. It takes a lot of bravery, and the life experience itself is such a great return on investment. Good luck!

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