The idea of home is something I think of often. You can find many sentiments about “home” when you Google “Home Quotes.” Home is where the heart is, love begins at home, home is the nicest word there is, or my favorite from Benjamin Franklin,
Moving back to my home state, the place I grew up and spent 22 years of my life, after living in Arizona for just five years was harder than I thought it would be. I thought that the deep roots that had grounded me for so long would easily pull me back to the Pacific Northwest. It turns out that even though the desert isn’t conducive to growing towering trees with roots embedded far below the surface, the never ending bright blue sky and the puffy white clouds that look like they are straight out of a children’s drawing were the perfect place for me to spread my hopes and dreams out and let them breathe.
When I moved to Arizona there was no plan. I was going to continue to train Starbucks employees and begin to pay off my student loans. I felt like Arizona was going to represent the nomadic times in my life. The times when I didn’t have to make roots, or lay down a foundation or any other number of metaphors for permanence. How wrong I was.
Upon arriving I began to change. I began to discover things about myself I only barely knew. I knew I wanted to leave a mark on the world, leave it better than I knew it, but that always seemed so daunting and a little narcissistic. But living in Arizona reinvigorated and inspired me to become a better version of myself. To continue learning, growing, thinking and doing in a way Oregon never did. When this started to happen my ambivalence about what home was awakened. I missed my family and hated not being there for holidays and family events, but I was living the way I’d always wanted to. I had found a mission and a passion.
Fast forward to now, when I am back in Oregon, starting over. I haven’t been away long. Eventually my five years spent in Arizona will be a blip on my timeline. But I think forever I will look back on these years as the time when I learned how I want to be. These five years are going to inform the rest of my life! No wonder I feel homesick for that state, my job, the best friends I have ever made, my sweet, smart, excited students and their loving families that guide them and the countless other people that touched my life while I was there.
Its been hard to handle this dull ache inside while my new life in Oregon is unfolding brightly. Oregon has endless beauty, friendly people and best of all, my family. Anthony and I have chosen to start our family here. Our possibilities are endless, but my heart continues to feel a pang of homesickness every day.
It wasn’t until I was standing at the edge of the Pacific Ocean, the place I
considered home above all else in my early twenties, with one of my dearest friends from Arizona when I realized that being in Oregon was not the end of the Whitney I had become. It also wasn’t the beginning of a new Whitney. It will be the growth of what had been sown. I have to find a way to stitch the two homes I’ve known together to make something new, and probably something even dearer.
I will always call Arizona home because it helped build my heart and soul in a way Oregon couldn’t. I will always call Oregon home because
it raised me and will hopefully raise my children. Because of this, I have two places that will always be precious. Two halves to the same whole. Two chapters in the same story. Two places to call home; and now I have to learn to be ok with that.
I love you more than trees and clouds,