Wednesday, September 08, 2010


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.


Alyson P. said...

For years I didn't know how to answer the question, "Where are you from?" As an Air Force brat I was from all over! After 20 years, I finally feel like I can say I'm from Phoenix.

Liz Johnson said...

I have never known how to answer this question. I used to say "Mexico," but given that I lived there 11 years ago (and only for 6 years), and I have since lived in Provo (for 8 years) and Indiana (for 3), I have no clue what to tell people. I've thought about saying "Planet Earth," but unfortunately that requires additional explaining. So I'm stuck. I have no idea either.

Susanne said...

I always find it funny when my Syrian friend tells me he is from Midan.

Yet he never lived there.

He lived in Mezze after being born in Germany. But he says he is from Midan because, by golly, someone in his dad's family lived there at one point in history!

And then when my other Syrian friend asked me where I was from...not meaning the state I have lived most of my life in, but from where in the world my ancestors came!

Maybe you could say you are from the US. (And if asked specifically, you grew up in Oregon, but haven't lived there in years.) I know you've lived in other countries, but you definitely aren't FROM Russia, Syria, Jordan, Egypt or Dubai.

Katie said...

Amen. Down to the very bit about being an Oregonian. My friends who have stayed there or gone to college and then moved back look at me like an outsider, like somebody they used to know. And I can't help but feeling that they're right. It's like they see right through this act of saying I'm "from" Oregon. Heck, I don't even really enjoy camping or hiking anymore. What nomads we are. Although, ahem, you are a much better-traveled nomad than I am. And probably cooler too.

Sherwood family said...

I know how you feel. Nobody warned me that the life of nomadism would cause such difficulty during small talk. Usually I just say where Brandon and I grew up and leave it at that. Of course he split growing up between two different places.

At least you'll be in the UAE for a good amount of time, right? But nobody wants to claim the UAE.

Mikael said...

I have the same feeling when I go to my "parents house". I only live 45 minutes from where I "grew up" and it just feels different. I never want to actually MOVE in that area and live there again... it is just "The place I grew up" and will always stay that way... but I do miss that "krusty creek!"


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