It’s a question that comes up the most in casual conversations. I’ve answered it a million times. Depending on the individual I’m conversing with, the answer changes and shares a suitable piece of the reality from a rather lengthy story.
Sometimes the reason is the mountains and ocean, or my nutrition internship. In other cases it’s based on reconnecting with my family here and picking bowls of raspberries on old familiar dirt lanes. It’s the place where I grew up and I’m returning.
It’s really all of the above.
I can’t help but love Oregon so much. I moved here when I was 3 and the story moves from there. I was raised by the rain, evergreens and a small herd of cats in several old cedar-structured houses generally set back on long gravel driveways.
I moved to the Midwest three years ago for a discounted college education that could never have been possible in Oregon. I was ready to head into the workforce but a joke of moving thousands of miles was turned into a quick reality after my first degree, by a hidden clause that allowed me free education at a 4-year university.
I went to Athens, Ohio for three years to finish my degree. With each advancing semester, I knew that the West Coast was my home. Every fiber of my being remembered the coastline, the crunch of pine needles and the golden shimmers of sunlight hitting Coldwater Lake. The heart wants what it wants.
I reached out to a previous employer to finish my final required internship back in Oregon. It was a intern in long-term care, which was always a specialty interest of mine in college. I was able to secure the internship and made my mental preparations for how I was going to finesse the first week of May.
In May, it happened that I would graduate on the afternoon of the 4th and leave on the evening of the 5th. I would need to be back by Sunday the 12th to be able to start my first required day on the job as an unpaid dietary intern.
After the blink of an eye for my graduation ceremony and half a day spent saying goodbye to my friends, I furiously shoved everything into my car. Whatever I could fit was what went. At that time this year, my life fit without a problem.
For days, my dad and I traded driving through all four seasons in crossing the country, from Russian tea salons to snow mountain routes, to infant cornfields in Kansas. Then my grandma flew from Oregon to take over driving with me. My dad flew back East while my Grandma and I drove from Salt Lake City to Portland, Oregon.
I was back by late Saturday with enough time to unpack boxes and breathe.
I have few pictures to document the adventure back and none of graduation. All of those were lost to a faulty cellphone, but all images are still in my mind’s eye due to the nervousness of embracing a new position as an intern and the excitement of returning to a place that felt most like home. I can still remember driving across state lines and being embraced by mountains blanketed with pines to look like green velvet.
This was home. For family, work, ocean water, sledding on slick slopes, raspberries and an internship on the start of a new page in life.