I was sitting at a picnic table at a brewery in Bend watching the sun set behind the Three Sisters. Inspired by the perfect combination of tacos, IPAs and warm summer air, I made the promise to the universe and myself that the next time I was in Oregon, it would be on a one-way ticket.
The ball started to roll shortly after stating that intention. Suddenly, a friend had recommended me for a new position available at her agency in Vancouver, WA. I interviewed, got the job and was suddenly putting in my three-weeks notice. In a frenzy of moving pods, farewell happy hours and awkward explanations, I was indeed on a one-way flight to my new home in Portland.
Shellshocked and stunned at my eagerness to so easily uproot a stable life in Minneapolis, I found myself scrambling to get grounded. Within the first few days, I signed a year-long lease and purchased my first brand new car. A week later, my pod arrived and I took comfort in filling my new space with old objects.
Still, I toggle between elation (“I did it!”) and devastation (“What have I done?!”). When I get into the latter territory, I simply run two miles east to the top of an extinct volcano, stand among mature Douglass fir trees and breathe in the fresh air smell unique to a cloud forest.
Other times, I’ll drive with friends two hours west to the coast, stand along the edge of sand and sea and remind myself that I can come here whenever I want – not just on special occasions. Having lived in the middle of the country my entire life, this is a novelty I can’t quite comprehend.
The past eight weeks have been disruptive; I’ve never felt more tired, yet more alive. Nearly everything I do presents both the challenge of the unknown and the reward of a new discovery. I’ve learned how to navigate the aisles of Fred Meyer and the road leading to the top of Mt. Hood. I’ve met many people and a few of them have stuck. I’ve learned the fine art of layering a winter coat beneath a rain coat because staying warm and dry is the true key to happiness.
Best of all, I think I’ve finally found my comfy place in the world. These people, this city and all of this natural splendor have made it easy to settle in and feel at home. I’ve spent most of my adult life traveling from the Midwest to the desert, mountains and coast, just wishing I could stay. Finally, I get to.