Portland is my home. I don't mean that just in the sense that my house is here, my family is here, and my stuff is here - although those things make living here much more comfortable and enjoyable. I mean that I am completely at home here. There's something about the people, the trees, the "weirdness," the overall feel of the city and the northwest in general. It's a sense I never had in other places I've lived. I feel like "me" here. Despite knowing only a handful of people when I moved to Portland, I knew within a month that this is where I was meant to be. In the 10 years I've been here, I've been fortunate to meet so many wonderful friends and make so many fantastic memories that I will always think of Portland as home.
Given all that, I have a little pang in my gut about leaving. Don't get me wrong - I am so excited about the experiences that await me! A few of you have asked me what part of my trip I am most looking forward to, and I can't narrow down the list. Surfing, sea turtles, malbec… I'm looking forward to so much! But to get one last Portland "fix," I walked through my neighborhood today to meet my parents for brunch. Crocus are blooming everywhere right now, but I'll miss the daffodils and tulips that are to follow. I know that I'll return in July, but while I'm away, I will definitely miss all this bits and pieces that make Portland home… even the rain.
So this is it! Andrew and I just toasted my departure with a glass of wine at the airport. My flight leaves in an hour. By this time tomorrow, I'll be on the beach in Costa Rica. After so many months of planning and anticipation, it seems a bit surreal that this adventure is finally about to start. It also seems a bit ironic that I am leaving the loves of my life - Andrew and Portland - on Valentine's Day. Hallmark doesn't make a card for that.
So, adios for now to Portland and to all of you here who make it so special. And thanks to everyone in Portland and beyond for your words of advice and support. I'll carry them with me as reminders of home.