I grew up in Michigan. You know, that state surrounded by all those lakes that looks like a mitten? I loved it. Well… I loved parts of it. I loved the dunes and the waves of Lake Michigan, I loved the woods. I was never in love with the culture or the cities, but it was where my family was so I was always happy to be there.
In college I realized I didn’t quite love it. While I stayed in the state for school, friends and family were traveling to places and falling in love. I didn’t get it. I had never gotten that feeling from a place. That made me sad, but when I realized I might want to leave my beloved Mitten with its family and familiarity, I was scared.
After college I began working at outdoor education camps. These jobs took me to amazing, wild places in North Carolina, New York, California. I greatly enjoyed every place I lived, but never had that feeling. I began to relax, thinking maybe I did belong in the Midwest with its humid, mosquito-infested summers and frigid, snowy winters.
My partner and I decided to “settle down” in Wisconsin. I thought it was what I wanted: to be near family, stay in one spot for more than a year, finally put down some roots. However, after two years of feeling bored, restless, and out of place we finally began looking for opportunities elsewhere. We decided to move to Oregon to take classes, and pursue something that both of us had been dreaming about for a long time.
When we got off the plane to apartment-hunt in our soon-to-be new town, the feeling hit me like a ton of bricks. Beautiful, soul-filling bricks. I was falling in love. From that moment I could hardly wait until the move, but as I drove further and further west I began to feel the 2500 miles between me and my family.
Now I am here. Books are in the bookcases, clothes are in the closet, the dog is being snuggly on the bed. This is already shaping up to be one of the best times of my life, but it’s also sad. I’m afraid of falling in love — more afraid than I have ever been of falling in love with a person.
What if I really love it and I don’t want to leave? How will I deal with only seeing my parents a couple of times a year and my extended family even less? If my partner and I have kids here, will they ever really get to know their grandparents?
I’m also afraid of falling in love with Oregon and then still choosing to leave. I may move closer to my family, but will I forever miss this place and wish I were here?
I don’t really know what happens, next. While there will always be a special place in my heart and mind for the Midwest, this new home is every place I’ve ever felt comfortable — every punk house, awesome job, childhood memory, magical forest, all rolled into one and it feels really good. I just know I am going to enjoy it as thoroughly as I can while I am here.