Rediscovering Home

I am home. I cannot even begin to describe what about Portland, Oregon makes it home – it is unspoken, but embodied in the very air I breathe as I step out of the airport. The air has a distinct smell and feel here. Fresh, of pines and rich, wet earth. My skin eagerly drinks the moisture from the air and I suddenly discover I no longer need to use lotion. As I followed my parents out to the car, I took in a deep breath of this essence of Portland.

Having been away from my hometown for two years, I have returned primed to notice everything that makes Portland so different from my current residence in Wisconsin. Portland seems so green and vibrant in winter, with towering evergreens and mossy lawns, ferns blanketing the garden. There are even neon green clumps of moss in the deciduous trees. If anything, Portland has become more moss-covered than I remember! Yes, it rains. And is overcast. For days. But the rain is a forgiving, loving rain, caressing all the moss it nurtures. In contrast, the rain in Wisconsin is that of the vindictive, angry summer thunderstorm, threatening you in a sneak attack that leaves you drenched ten steps from your front door as you dash out to fetch the mail. Or the powdery stuff that seems so magical at Christmas but by March has become a tiresome roommate demanding you clean up after it constantly. By March I am tired of shoveling of snow.

So I am rediscovering why I first fell in love with rain. It lulls me to sleep in a steady serenade of rhythms. It freshens the air with a cleansing sweetness. I even love taking long walks in the rain, sans umbrella. Something about it is so invigorating, like turning my face up into the raindrops and feeling the caress of God’s hand in the world.

Rediscovery is really the theme of this entire vacation in Portland. Today Mark and I headed downtown on MAX, the local light-rail, to meet up with an old high school friend of mine. MAX reflects the values that growing up in Portland instilled in me. Here is a public transit system serving a diverse socio-economic and ethnic population, symbolically linking all these communities together. I heard a couple languages spoken during the 30 minute ride from Gresham into Lloyd Center, including Spanish. I saw business men, students, the homeless, people of all walks of life sharing the same train. For the central downtown area of Portland, there is a Fareless Square, and while sometimes controversal, I think it beautifully embodies the spirit of my city. Here anyone can ride MAX, regardless of their economic situation.

The whole day has been a series of rediscoveries. Ice skating under the twinkling holiday decorations to the soundtrack of buzzing shoppers at Lloyd Center. Savoring high quality sushi from the mall food court. A stranger in the mall giving us a coupon to use at a local restaurant. Marionberry pie at the local diner. Playing a borrowed piccolo up on my alma mater’s stage in the alumni band for the Sam Barlow High School holiday band concert. I have not been this content in a long while.

I am home.

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About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
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One Response to Rediscovering Home

  1. Jorene says:

    That’s how I feel everytime I walk off the plane too! I think its native thing, that few outsiders know.

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