It’s official: We’re moving home.
By “home” I mean Minneapolis, Minnesota, a city in which neither my girlfriend nor I have ever lived. We both grew up in eastern South Dakota and went to school at Minnesota State University, Mankato — which is about 70 miles south of the Twin Cities — but for all intents and purposes, this is a return home. We’d been considering the move for months now, but only this past weekend did it become official.
This should come as no surprise to loyal TMT readers, but I’ve maintained a love/hate relationship with Portland since the moment we got here last August. That’s to say I’ve really loved hating Portland.
A loyal reader recently asked what brought us here in the first place. In short, I decided after spending the first 24 years of my life living in or within a few hours of my hometown that it was time for a change of scenery. We certainly got the change we were looking for out here, but the change meant putting nearly 1,800 miles between ourselves and the people we love most. The longer we were here, the greater urgency we felt to move home. You can only call, text and Skype with family and friends so much.
Why Portland, specifically? I had always been interested in living the Pacific Northwest because of the climate, terrain and politics. My initial thought was Seattle, but Portland was more practical based on cost and job opportunities. (Not saying the job market is better in Portland, but Seattle is a too tech-oriented for this English graduate.) There’s a lot of things I’ve loved about Portland: the mild winter, the coffee shops, the Willamette Week, the library system, the parks. What it lacks, though, time and time again, is our family and friends.
Growing up, I never intended on being someone who needed to live near their family. Aside from aunts and cousins in Indianapolis, the vast majority of my family is in the South Dakota-Minnesota area. I’d always been jealous of families that spread across the country, popping in major cities like Ikea stores. Now, I can’t wait to get back home. I can’t live close enough to my family as far as I’m concerned.
The same people who made moving away so hard helped make the decision to move back so easy.
Here’s another piece of truth: We left behind some great friends. My whole life, I’ve cycled through small groups of friends, allowing time and space to cut friendships short. The friends I had when we moved were the best friends I’ve ever had. The people we’re returning home to are people I want my kids to know. They’re people I want to look at old college photos with when our grandchildren can look at us and say, “What’s a digital camera?”
The Midwest is by no means a hip area of the country, but I’ve had my fill of hip. I miss the hokey Northern dialect, the deep devotion to beer and football, several dozen conversations each day about the weather. I miss guys who wear Carhartt without irony, pride themselves on their Buffalo wing eating ability and can sing every word to “Skol Vikings.” I miss girls who wear hooded sweatshirts, pride themselves on their Buffalo wing eating ability and don’t mind smiling for no apparent reason.
When you live in a place where it rains for months on end, you need a good umbrella. When you live in a place where (-26) degrees outside isn’t rare, you need a good sense of humor. That’s something Portland is lacking.
My girlfriend and I don’t move until late July, so in the meantime, we plan on giving Portland our full attention. Much has been made of bucket lists since the Jack Nicholson—Morgan Freeman buddy flick was released a few years ago. We’ve agreed to something similar — a f*ck-it list. As in, I don’t really want to go to the Japanese Rose Garden, but we’re moving soon, so f*ck it! We’re cobbling together a list of things we want to do or see before making our move. (No. 1 on the list is going to Seattle for Memorial Weekend to catch a Minnesota Twins-Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field.)
This post might just catch someone on the verge of a cross-country move, so let me part with those people in mind: I understand full well the urge to get away and try something new. There’s no better learning process than throwing yourself into a place that’s unfamiliar, surrounded by people you don’t know. However, think about the people you get to have in your life every day. Is where you live so intolerable that you would settle on seeing them just once or twice per year just to live in a different time zone?
If yes, I wish you the best of luck. If no, well, there’s no shame in that. I’m hesitant to call it one for the appreciation it’s given us, but you can learn from our mistake.