I moved to Oregon close to three years ago. I haven't stayed in one place longer since high school. So, the question is, Is Oregon home? People will often ask me that question, or some variation of it, and my answer comes freely and easily. Yes, I tell them. Yes, Oregon is my home.
In college, Utah never felt like home to me. Utah was the place where my school was, the place away from home. I loved college, I loved my school, I loved my time there. But it was never home. Colorado was always home. I clung proudly to our heavy spring snows, our blistering summers, our majestic mountaintops, and our delectable tap water. During those formative fledgling adult years, I needed my home to be in Colorado. I needed my family to be in Colorado. And they were.
Then I met Josh and my future started taking more defined shape. Oregon. We were getting married, and he had a job already lined up in his hometown--my new town. So I moved to Oregon, and I embraced it. I love it here. I love the low-hanging clouds, the forested highways, the foggy mornings, the hipster Pearl District. I love my friends (oh, so many friends!), my church congregation, the briny air of a coastal weekend.
Letting go of Colorado as my physical home was a rite of passage for me. I realized that going home to see my family--my parents and siblings--was just that, home as defined by the people, not the place. When I go back to that Rocky Mountain safe haven, I still love the sun and the sky and the air, just not in the same rooted way I did before. What makes Colorado a refuge now is my family. They've always been home for me, no matter where they fall on a map.
I thought that by claiming a new state as home that I'd be giving up an essential part of me; what really happened was I kept the most precious parts of my being while simultaneously opening a new, wonderful, complementing one, one made brilliant with the beginnings of a family all my own.
Whenever I went out of town in college and it was time to return to Utah, I'd say, I'm going back to school. Now when I go on a trip and it's time for that return flight I say, I'm going home.