It's such a strange feeling to be home. Home? I don't even know what to call this place - this place where I grew up, but haven't lived permanently for about 11 years. Sometimes I call it "the place I grew up." Sometimes I call it "my parents' house." Neither of those really conveys what this place is to me.
I still consider Portland to be where I'm from, though, again, I haven't lived here for 11 years. I feel like saying I'm "from" Portland just gets more and more disingenuous as time goes by.
And let me explain that strange feeling. I grew up here, but I still have to re-orient myself every time we come visit (about once a year, sometimes not even that often). Sometimes I have to use Nigel the GPS to get around just because there has been so much growth here. Sometimes someone tells me where something is using another landmark as a reference and I know I know where that is...and yet. I can't quite call it up in my mind. That makes me sad.
It makes me sad when things are different than I remember them, too. I remember when roads that are now major thoroughfares were one-lane country highways for miles and miles. I remember when the speed limit on West Union was 45 and when the limit on Bronson was 50 AND there was no stop sign at the bottom of the hill. I remember when I could turn left out of my own neighborhood without waiting too long. Now I have to drive around to the other neighborhood exit just to catch a lull in traffic.
Things are different inside my house, too. Can I really call this place "home" when I don't even know where the oven mitts are kept anymore? I find myself opening cabinets where things used to be and then staring stupidly when they're not there.
I had to really concentrate before I remembered the garage code and even then it was more of a lucky guess.
I actually had to flip through all the channels before I realized that OPB is still channel 10.
The first time I had to fill up the car with gas while we were here, I actually started to get out of the car to do it myself. Then when the attendant showed up to remind me that I couldn't pump my own gas, I was all awkwardness trying to figure out how it all worked. Do I give him my card? Do I roll down the window or open the door or what?
Heck, I even found myself surprised at no sales tax, even though for years and years after leaving here I couldn't get used to other states' sales tax.
It seems I am losing my Oregonian touch.
I guess Portland is only home to me in that my children's grandparents (and my two brothers) live here. Miriam and Magdalena can call this place "Grandma & Grandpa's house." I think I'll go on calling it "the place I grew up."
Which raises the question of where, then, am I from?
But that's a different blog post.