I returned to New York City soaked in cat piss.
My sweet, 14+ pound kitty and I had quite the traumatic flight. But, we survived, and we pulled up to my childhood home in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn very much alive. I returned home to find that, despite the fatigue, stress, and moving-related nostalgia, I had been gifted an unusual and, somehow, special sense of place and peace upon my arrival. My cat, however — hid under my bed.
Just days later, my mother and I embarked on our epic cross-country journey BACK to Oregon. (We’re still on the road.) In Portland, we’ll be packing up the last of my things and saying final goodbyes to the people and places I have cherished for the past six years before driving back East. For good.
It’s a strange feeling. Moving — shuttling around. A friend of mine recently moved from Portland to Richmond, Virginia. We’ve been talking about the highs and lows of leaving one home behind for another. The excitement and the sadness. The stress and the satisfaction. One night, after expressing my mild panic about one thing or another, he sent me a text from the road: “The drive across country helped soften the change.”
I thought about his words. Digested them. That’s really what I’ve needed all along. — Something to soften things. All my things. — To make my places safe and comfortable. Graceful transitions have never been my forte.
But, in the car with my mother these past few days, between our laughter, obsessive podcast listening, eclectic music selections, and the obvious we’re-in-a-car-together-for-several-weeks frustrations…I’ve all but forgotten the sadness that my Portland-loss had brought. And, while there’s still packing to do and goodbyes to make, I think that confusing my sense of place has — softened things.
So, this week, and next, I celebrate. I celebrate myself. I celebrate my mother. And we celebrate our place — together and in the world. — Wherever that may be.
I learn that place will never define us. It cannot define us. It only builds and informs us — it transforms us. But, it is us who will do the defining. And, with each step I take away from, and back toward, Portland — I write myself. — My place. — I discover that I am my own home.
And, I allow myself to live — here — in my own heart.
And with that knowledge, I soften with every passing day.