No Place Like Home for the Holidays

I was a little worried about coming home for Christmas. My transition into Richmond has been nearly anything but smooth, and I’ve been unusually homesick. A not small part of me was worried I wouldn’t want – or be able – to leave once I was safely nestled home again.

This has not been as great a problem as I feared. As usual, going home has been nice, but has also highlighted the many differences of where I’ve been with where I a (some good, some neutral, some bad) – and a slight renewed determination to keep sticking it out. Or at least trying.

For good things, I rather enjoy the wet and the chill has been bracing as opposed to “God blessed, I’m cold, please let’s go inside now.” I also didn’t think Richmond was particularly grey when I left – it hadn’t seemed so to me. But Portland’s winters are vibrantly colorful: the grass is still very green, some of the trees still have colorful leaves, and even if they didn’t, there’s a monstrous amount of evergreens that Richmond cannot compete with. It’s been…pretty.

It is good to see my parents, though things have been a little hectic (and Papa hasn’t been sleeping, so he’s been snappish rather than his usual teddy bear self). And Mom and I have been getting along famously. There’s a sad truth: we get along so long as I’m away. But it’s good to keep that in mind…

And of course, the juicy bits. The things that piss me off and make me go, “Hey. I like living in Richmond.”

For starters, the HIPSTERS. I’m not sure how, but I actually forgot about hipsters. The Oregonian has kindly been reminding me, and also the ways Etsy now sucks (but I won’t get into that here, as you can just read Regretsy and listen to them talk about it more concisely and more humorously). It hit me that I haven’t seen a single hipster in Richmond. I’ve gone into a bar and been assaulted by hip hop and country, not a bad independent label. I mean, I don’t really like hip hop and country either, but the lack of pretension has been absolutely refreshing. So score one to Richmond.

Also, Portland’s rabid hatred of the police. You guys know my feelings on cops, so there’s no point getting into all that. But I find the distrust and general perception of evil in Portland disgusting. It’s a city with a mad persecution complex, one I would argue is entirely unearned. You just don’t get that in Richmond. I can’t tell you what their feelings on officers of the law is, because it just hasn’t come up. Police are much more a part of the fabric of the landscape, a necessary function of city life. They are not treated as bad or good, but because of that, I would say they are perceived as forces for good. Approval is often less pronounced than disapproval, because it seems completely ordinary to a culture. So I’m already pissed off about that, and am glad I haven’t had to deal with that at all in Richmond.

I was thinking someday I’d probably move back home. Not HOME home, not with my parents, but back to the Portland area. But it has been true for years that even the suburbs outside of Portland are dominated by it, and that seems less true with Richmond. Each area has its own flavor and tastes, at least as far as I can tell. I’m still not saying I’m staying there for the rest of my life, but it has been educational – perhaps it has helped me appreciate its charms more?

The story I’d like to relay is this, in regards to how I adjust to new places in my life: when I transferred to Hofstra, I had a bit of a hard time. I missed my life at PLU, missed knowing where everything was with Professors who knew and liked me. I felt I had made a grave, stupid mistake, and worried about this through the course of the year. this continued to bug me until the spring, when I went up to see my friends after the school year had ended. I walked the familiar campus, even met with my favorite professor, and learned something: I didn’t belong there anymore. A sense of relief washed over me with a small, knowing smirk. I had left for a very good reason, and going back only reminded me what those reasons were. I had needed to grow more, and I had. I no longer fit there. I didn’t worry about my choices anymore after that.

In many ways, that’s how I feel about being back home. That is USUALLY how I feel in my life after any kind of big change: some stress, a re-check, and more secure in my decisions. I do not feel QUITE that way this time, because my financial situation is far from good, and I can’t afford to move out on my own, which was the whole stupid point of leaving. I’m also worried for my parents’ finances and health, but there’s really nothing I can do about that. There’s a lot I want to be different, a lot of things that I don’t like and need to change somehow, and I don’t know how yet. But….

Well, again, I’m weird and so I pray about it. A lot. But at least at this very second – excluding my financial worries, which are going to bother me for a long time to come – I feel…yeah, at peace. My choices are hard, but they are good for me. It remains only to see what the next step in growth is.


About emilydnelson

A recent graduate of Hofstra University with a B.A. in anthropology, Emily is like every other twenty-two year old on the planet - trying to figure out what the hell to do now. Follow as she struggles with writing, her social work job, and bopping from coast to coast.
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