You are a stronghold in my life. I knew I'd be in Portland for two years, but coming here was unexpected. A new place, a new life, new friends. A place that doesn't feel anything like home. A place to transition, maybe? I do not know this place, I do not know what it will mean to stay. In my head I think how I have nine years...nine years until the farm is my brothers and mine. What that means in the long term and what it means now. Am I walking towards home or away from it? Now you are here and I do not know what to do with myself. I wonder if what is happening now is the reason to stay. It has always been my choice to leave and go to a new place. It was my choice to begin with and it is still my choice. The choice to come here wasn't easy but here I am, in the place I'm meant to be. I joke it was a dare. It is easier to call it a dare then be honest and admit this is the place I felt right to come to. Other places felt wrong. I went for what felt right. For now? For how long? The timetable I was not given is hard to imagine. I miss quiet. I miss the sounds I only hear in the woods with my dad. I miss the colors of the landscape and the dogs barking their greeting as neighbors drive by the house. I miss the porch swing and knowing where exactly on the wood flooring the creaks will occur when I step on it. Nothing is ever simple and I do not know where I belong. I miss the freedom to jump in the car and just go. I have hope that I belong here because you anchor me. Will these feelings stick or will they float away on the breeze? So often, I am asked how I'm doing and I admit I miss home. What I do not admit is all the reasons I would miss being here. It's easy to list of reasons to miss home...but not as easy to admit why it would be harder still to go, again, to another place and figure this all out again. My homes are many, one is a long walk down a country road, passing a hidden gate and walking alongside a stone wall. Another still had a chocolate chip bedroom that eased me into sleep unexpectedly. I do not forget the home that is made of a stable, power washed for the two week stay that occurred every summer. One more is the house with the japanese water feature, plenty of food, and the challenge to be honest always with the people that love me. The home I miss the most has wood floors, paint falling from the walls, the paint in the stairway that I cleaned around a piece of paper once that now looks like the paint is brighter in the shape of a backwards number 4. Sometimes home is the car my friend drives us around in, to Chicago or Iowa City simply so we can eat at the restaurants on my list. Sometimes it's the car I would get into early in the morning with the heat full blast, 'so it feels like I am still in bed' or so I'm told. The car where we would have our most important discussions, where honesty reigned supreme and although I may have messed up, I wasn't beaten down, I was lifted up by what I did right. Sometimes still it is in the unexpected places, like a Vegas hotel with the handful of people who look out for each other, including leading the way from one venue to another so everyone arrives safely in a strangely dark neighborhood. Taking photos in beautiful mirrors to remember later that, yes, we really did stay up nearly all night to talk and just BE. These things are not easy to say, to share, because it is hard to put into words the time my heart was truly broken, or the time I did not want to fly home because I was leaving those I loved deeply behind after only knowing them 2 or 3 weeks. How does one share all this with another? There are too many stories and so much always flying around in my head and yours.