“It’s nice to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.”
That phrase has always been pretty mysterious to me. My parents lived overseas for about 20 years; I’ve visited a lot of places.I think I could have happily lived in most of them. Drop me off on the Costa del Sol in Spain and I won’t complain. I could spend a couple of years in Amsterdam. Or Aberdeen, Scotland. Or London, Boston, Washington, D.C. or Florence, Italy. All places I’ve visited and fantasized about refusing to budge from when the hotel reservation and food budget ran out.
But the Northwest is a different story. I got here and it didn’t feel like a visit, it felt like coming home.
I first came to McMinnville for a soul vacation. My best girlfriend lives here, and I needed her to patch me up after my divorce. She had a lot of help from big trees, moss, ferns, Mount Hood, Multnomah Falls, hike and bike trails, gorgeous produce and fresh, delicious local beers. Flying east to Virginia felt like heading in the wrong direction.
Luckily, I got laid off. I applied for jobs from Luxembourg to Seattle, but my heart skipped a beat when I spotted an opening in McMinnville. I’m sure every tourist on the beaches of Spain or the streets of Paris dreams of never going home. I’m living that dream. Hiking the hills of the Yamhill Valley with my kids isn’t a memory, a daydream and a photo in a Facebook album, it’s my weekend. Every day here, I add another item to my long wish list of things I want to do in Oregon. I’m bruised from pinching myself; I’m just now getting used to the idea that I don’t have to leave. I miss my East Coast clan, but they’re looking forward to visiting me here. I can’t wait to take them to Voodoo Doughnut and work it off walking through the Japanese Gardens. But I’m swelling with brand new local pride at the idea of taking them south and west so we can dig a little deeper and soak up all the natural beauty this region has to offer. I can’t wait to take them home with me.
What can’t you wait to show your visiting friends and relatives? What’s the festival or event, the trail or park that’s your go-to afternoon when you entertain out-of-towners?