a warm and welcome place to share words and thoughts

Posts tagged ‘home’

Home and community – It’s all a matter of perspective

Home is where the heart is -Yes, it is a common, kitschy phrase often seen on pieces of arts and crafts that we display in our homes, where our hearts are. But moving past the overused phrase that it is, and really thinking about it, the place we call “home” and the place that brings a sense of community are just that – places on this earth that we resonate with and come to see with the eyes of our heart and soul.

I have often heard the lament of those who live in a small town that city dwellers live in a cold atmosphere of indifference; we pass each other on the street, strangers with our heads down,  lacking acknowledgment of one another. But I beg to differ. This morning I bypassed my usual routine of tea at home in my pajamas, and headed out in the cool morning air to one of my favorite coffeehouse haunts, the Fehrenbacher Hof, located in a delightful neighborhood of Portland called Goose Hollow. Just the fact that Portland is comprised of delightful neighborhoods like Goose Hollow within the confines of a big city tells me that a sense of community can be established anywhere, not just in a small town or less populated city.

As I sat on the porch outside “The Hof”, as it is affectionately called, I felt such a sense of belonging, even with the cacophony of the city sounds; cars, trains and a helicopter flying incredibly low overhead. And that small event, the helicopter buzzing the treetops, spurred on a conversation with a stranger and others around us, as we wondered what that was all about. Sitting there as I sipped my coffee, I began to feel like a greeter at Wal-Mart, saying “good morning” to just about every person who came in and out. We do make friendly connections in this urban setting!

Even my apartment building fosters a sense of community; a lovely circle of interactions and connections with the other tenants, pride taken in our building and even the apartment management. One of the tenants took it upon herself to thoroughly clean up the laundry room one day, lending a helping hand to our overworked manager/building maintenance man, taking pride in this place we call home. Another tenant has been so kind as to leave a bucket full of cut flowers in the foyer; leftovers from her job at a flower shop, as she shares with her fellow neighbors. And one morning we were treated to boxes of doughnuts in the foyer; a gift from the management company, to show appreciation for having such lovely tenants.

For many years the place I called home was a place I found myself in because of family ties, friends and familiarity. But life can be changeable and malleable, and we may find that home is a place that has been buried but now is ready to be uncovered. For me I unearthed my love of the city, and that city for me is Portland. Now I fully understand what the word home means, and it is here that I truly feel as if I am part of a community.

Home sweet home

Advertisements

Not as in shape as I thought I was

Shortly after I moved to Portland I realized I really didn’t need a car here, and so off it went, back to Minnesota; the daughter of a friend of mine desperately needed a car at the time, and she was more than happy to buy my very reliable Honda Civic. That left me using public transportation, which is abundant here, or else walking my way around town. After a few months of walking so much, I noticed my clothes fitting a little better (not so snug), and I could walk the four flights up to my apartment without feeling as if I needed oxygen. So when the new meet-up group I found recently posted an evening walk in my neighborhood, I signed up, even though the distance was listed as six miles. Piece of cake I thought – I walk that and more on a day of exploring or running errands or sometimes both. What I didn’t take into account was the uphill direction we would be going on our route, exploring Washington Park and the very hilly Southwest area of Portland. How bad could it be? Pretty bad, as I soon found that my leg muscles were really as weak as noodles. But then I had a second wind – yes, I thought, I just had to get into my stride and I’ll be just fine as we said goodbye to two members who (very wisely and I should have joined them) decided to stop halfway and take the train back to our starting point. Not me though, no I was going to finish this walk if it killed me. And as we started to climb and climb our way through Washington Park, I thought at one point that I could very well die this way – a heart attack would have been a sweet release at that point as my poor heart and lungs worked overtime to keep me going. I started lagging far behind the others, but a very nice and concerned couple took me under their wing, walking a bit slower so they could keep an eye on me. My thoughts of a pleasant and scenic evening walk were shattered with every step I took now; my mantra becoming “one more step” instead of enjoying the beauty of the park. But finally, just when I felt like I could lay down and die, we reached the summit of Council Crest. And I have to say, the pain was worth the gain – we were treated to a spectacular view of the city lights from what felt like a heavenly vantage point – my ears actually started to pop on the walk down. As we began the big sigh of relief walk downhill, I found myself muttering, “Are we there yet?” like an impatient child. All I wanted to do was get home and stop walking! And I finally made it home, where I shoved aside my obsessive neatness tendencies and threw my clothes on the floor, appreciating the comfort of my bed like never before.

Coming home

My last post was over two weeks ago, before I left to go back to Minnesota for the holidays, spending time with family and friends. And I wondered how it would feel, going back there after living here in Portland for six months now, having moved here not knowing a soul. I thought perhaps I may find myself in Minnesota, surrounded by my loved ones, with a pang of wanting to move back and be close to them once more. But the truth is, I found myself becoming homesick, for my Rose City – like a kid at summer camp! I kept picturing my cozy apartment, and the streets I love to walk, and most of all the greenery that was still so prevalent even in the middle of December. I bemoaned the lack of color in the Midwest; it was a “brown” Christmas, with not a snowflake in sight.  So I know in my heart where my home is, and as I traveled farther and farther west on the train to go home, I felt my spirits lift in anticipation of the city I have come to love so much, Portland, Oregon.

Welcome Mat

The Universe is rolling out its plush red carpet for me

I sink my feet into it and wiggle my toes, digging in

Feels so good!

I amble down this comfy path

Facing forward, facing towards the place where the sun sets

Slowly though

I don’t want to miss the guideposts along the way

You know, the ones they provide for adventurous travelers

To help them reach their correct destination

And I will know where my place, my home is

With the kind assistance of the Universe

Who puts out a welcome mat

That proclaims

Home Sweet Home

The definition of home

I lived over half a century in the same state, and then felt the overwhelming urge to move halfway across the country and replant myself in a state I had visited only once. This has caused me to redefine what home really is. Is it a place where we grow up and more times than not settle our adult lives in? Or is it a place that calls to our very soul and says, “come”? I have come to believe in the latter, as I find I am in love with my “new” home of Portland, Oregon. Oh, I enjoyed Minnesota all those years; I wasn’t miserable. But something in me felt a pull, a resonating as I traveled to Oregon in 2010 for a retreat, in a place that was actually outside of Portland. But I remember as I sat in the airport, waiting to board the plane to Portland, I heard a voice in my head saying, “I’m going home!” And as soon as I set foot in Oregon, I knew that one day, this place would be my home. It is a love affair here that I have with my pretty city. Every day I wake and say to myself, “another beautiful day in Portland!”, not mattering one bit if it is a grey day or a bright sun filled day. And I find other “homes” within my home. There are the two coffeehouses that I love more than all the others; one that plays the music I love and has the best caramel to add luscious flavor to my coffee, and the other one that makes the best marionberry bars and has the quaint outdoor patio that is almost meditative on a lovely Portland morning. I have also found the teashop that is akin to being in my home, with comfy over-sized chairs to sit in and the most delicious teas, both hot and cold. And then there are my two favorite parks; one that is close to my home and has gently sloping hills covered with massive, older trees that provide welcome shade on a summer day, and the other park which has an area of native grasses and plants, along with a pond full of playful fish and lovely lily pads. As I get ready to board the train in a few hours that will take me to family and friends I haven’t seen for six months, I say to myself that I am going back to Minnesota, but I will be coming home to Portland.

Tag Cloud