By most accounts, 2015 was, more or less, totally fucked. When it started, for the second time in my life, I found myself suddenly unemployed and completely unsure of what to do next. Sure, I dabbled in the freelance life for a bit, picked up a few assisting gigs, but over my head loomed the realization that Phoenix was not, and never would be, my home.

Since the day I set foot in Phoenix, I knew I wanted to get back to Oregon. I was never quite sure what the draw was to return. I called California home for 18 years, but the minute I moved to Eugene to attend the University of Oregon, I never considered moving back to the Bay Area. For the longest time, until recently, I had always assumed this state operated in some magical way, alleviating my constant anxiety and encouraging me to reach outside of my comfort zone. And why question magic, you know?

Maybe it’s because I’m older now, but I’m realizing magic is bullshit. Sure, the weather in Oregon is different. Maybe the general population’s political leaning is different. Hell, maybe people here even are a tad bit nicer. (Let’s be honest, though: There are assholes in every state.) Oh wait! Trees and seasons! Maybe that’s where the magic came from?

Nah, the desert actually had some pretty beautiful stuff, too.

Then I remembered the first time I went back to Eugene after I had moved away; a town that had been so easy to call my “home” for the four and a half years I spent living there.

The magic was gone.

Sure, nostalgia lingered. But I didn’t feel the ease I once did. The place that first made me feel I belonged suddenly felt like a party I was watching from outside the window. I could feel the warmth as my face was pressed against the glass, but that was as close as I could get.

I left, attributing it to just being “too old” for a college town.

Let’s fast-forward. This is getting long-winded. I’m back in Oregon. I did it. (Insert “and the crowd goes wild” sound.) Bend. A town I had only actually visited a couple times before I moved here. And you know what? It fucking feels like home. And I think I get it now too.

I spent my time thinking home was a place; that when you moved somewhere, and it felt right, it was home. Not ever truly acknowledging what it was that made it “feel right.”

The people.

I was lucky enough to get hired in a town with close friends I already knew. I’ve been even luckier to make friends with so many people since I moved here. And I continue to meet awesome people. For the first time in a while, things feel right. Like home.

(PS: Shout out to all my awesome friends who don’t live here. I love you guys, too.)

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