The Idea of Home

Last year I filled out three state income tax forms. One for Minnesota, where I graduated from college. One from North Dakota, where I grew up and moved home to following my graduation. And one from Oregon, the state I chose as my new, post-college home.

After all this shuffling around, I started to think that home is less of a place and more of an idea.

I think part of me wants home to be a location, wants to get attached to a place, to feel like I belong. I used to feel that way before I’d ever really been anywhere else, when I was young and home was all I knew.

That started to change for me during college. At that time in my life, I lived in two realities. Each story had different characters that weren’t fully aware of the others. Each place had slightly different cultural rules and personalities. And each location had positives and negatives, things I believed in and things I didn’t.

Moving to Portland, Oregon, a year and a half ago – which I did intentionally for its contrast to my location for the previous 22 years – made me delve further into my idea of home. I love Portland with all its unique opinions and acceptance of diverse personalities. In fact, I could see some of Portland in me already.

But, ultimately, the move made me realize a few things.

First, that maybe “home” really isn’t a place. Maybe it’s more of a dream, a longing for something that will never be perfect and cozy here on earth. Portland is great. It is creative, driven, proactive, independent. But it is not flawless. I miss North Dakota’s hardy spirit, practicality, politeness and stability. And often the things I miss are lacking in Portland, or at least much different.

Maybe no one place, one culture can really ever get it all right. And maybe that’s the point. Because maybe in discovering that idea we can realize that only heaven really will.

Nonetheless, I continue to find that each place I go shapes me just a little bit. Each place makes me appreciate different things and every now and then even glimmers slightly with glimpses of heaven.

Maybe this is why I like traveling so much. Whatever the reason, I’d like to begin to introduce you to some places that mean a lot to me. Learn. Relate. Laugh. So RELEVANT world, later this week you'll meet the Great Northwest as the first region in a series of articles about different parts of the world.

[Editor’s note: Please send me your stories that introduce me to your corner of the globe, as I unfortunately don’t know good writers in every region.]

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