We had been driving for hours through huge stretches of pine trees, mountains and desert terrain, broken only by the occasional small town restaurant in desperate need of a new paint job. I was getting tired of driving, though, and really anxious to get to this mysterious town of 300 days of sunshine in Oregon we had heard such good things about.
We entered into Bend, Oregon at the south end of town, our first sights a Wal-Mart on one side and an uninspired housing development on the other. I knew that ends of towns can look like this, so I wasn't deterred – but I wasn't bowled over, either.
Then we turned off the highway.
As we made that highway ramp exit curl, my heart skipped a beat. There – filling the windshield view, were the most beautiful mountains I had ever seen through the landscape of a city. Then, almost as though someone had handed me a cup of vanilla chamomile tea and a cozy chair to sit in, my heart fell into synchronized rhythm with the energy of this place.
I was home.
I knew it even though I had never felt it like this before, not even in the places I lived for years prior.
We visited one more time after that first trip, a few months later, just to confirm that it was the right place. Then, four months later, we moved there. We started businesses, got married, and had our three babies there. I made some of my very best friends – the kind you have until you die. We grew tomatoes that never really turned out well, seeded our lawn to no avail every year and became better skiers (which isn't saying much for me.) It was home, from the very beginning until just a few months ago.
Some people say that home is where your family is. I disagree.
That's beautiful and I believe that could feel true to those people. But that's not how it feels to me. I can be with family and not feel at home. I grew up in the Bay Area of California and much of my family still lives there. My family is awesome. I love them. Yet, every time I drive down Highway 101 toward the Golden Gate bridge, I feel less comfortable, less “at home.” It's like the energy of the place is out of sync with my own energy.
I have come to call this The Vibration of Home.
It's what we feel when we walk into a place or a room full of people and feel at ease right away. It's a resonance. It is remarkable only in its simple clarity. We are home.
I know I'm not the only one who experiences this because I have talked with many people about this feeling of resonance with a place. One friend has this sense of home every time she travels to New York City – and when she is in Seattle. Another friend feels this way at the beach, staring at the ocean. Yet another describes his experience of Portland, Oregon in this home-resonance way.
Lucky for me, I have experienced a version of this home feeling again here in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Jim and I came here two months ago so he could interview with his new company and so that we both could check out the area and decide if it would please us to live here. I felt open to liking it, but my expectations were low. I have lived in some of the most beautiful places in the United States, in my opinion: Santa Cruz and Marin County in California and then Central Oregon. (I've lived other places, too, but those are the amazing ones.) It was going to be difficult to meet the beauty of those places.
After a long red-eye flight, we drove toward Charlottesville with weary anticipation. “The trees sure are pretty here”, I said. We hit a highway and there was a Walgreens. Well, I thought, at least there will be familiar resources. We drove toward town, passing box stores and some unfamiliar chain restaurants.
Then we turned toward downtown, parked the car and walked the historic downtown mall.
I think this might be home, I thought to myself. But I wasn't all the way there yet.
We ate. He had meetings. I shopped. People said, “Hello” everywhere I went. I felt warm – at ease.
But it was the country drive later that day that sealed it for me. I was home.
The branches over the road to Monticello create a canopy, even in early Spring before the leaves are in full bloom. The grass is vibrant green. The air is warm and a little bit wet. The people are interesting and courteous. The culmination of the day's events synchronized into the feeling I had subconsciously been searching for: The Vibration of Home.
We're here now, living among. There are too many details to keep track of and I know very few people. Yet, I know I'm home – that I'm in the right place and the right things will happen.
I guess it's a sort of Intuition.
Coaches, friends and counselors have asked me to call upon my “intuition” at times when I have struggled to make a decision. I have always had a conflicted sense of this word, “intuition” (which I will write much more about in upcoming posts.) And yet, I can feel it when I am “home” in a place. I know it is critical to my happiness and well-being that I live in a place that has that resonance because when I have lived in places that don't, everything feels harder and more confusing. I feel lost and out of place. Oh, there is logic to it, if I pull it apart (I love country roads, I love walking malls…), but the logic doesn't feel like the whole picture. It's a feeling. That's all I can say. It's in my gut.
So, it's good to be home.
How about you? What is “home” to you? And how do you know it's home? Have you ever arrived at a place that didn't feel like “home”, even when surrounded by people you love?
(Also, if you are intrigued by the concept of home, you might like the book “Shelter for the Spirit” by Victoria Moran, a book about the power of creating home and the feelings we associate with our space. I love that book.)