When we first left Portland, nearly a year ago, we had every intention of returning to the place that had won our hearts. We adore the vibrant seasons, quirky neighborhoods, and charisma of Portland's inhabitants. This was the place where we had begun our family, built friendships, had regular access to the coast and mountains, wonderful clients and lets not forget to mention an infinite number of local breweries. To many, the Pacific Northwest just can't be beat and we were proud it call it home.
The first few months after we moved to the Sierras we longed for bits of our old world and gathering with friends whose presence we dearly missed. But something rather unexpected began to happened. Upon each return, this place that once held a feeling of home slowly began to diminish. While we still enjoyed visiting our favorite spots, spending time with friends and connecting with old clients, our sense of belonging was fading.
Throughout our time living in California, much of our days were spent traveling to various places across the west coast or indulging in the mountains out our backdoor. Our connection to the outdoors and our yearning for adventure had grown tremendously. So much so that we began to realize that the city would never again feel truly fulfilling as a home. The distance we had to drive to no longer feel the weight of the city or shuffling along with bunches of tourists and fellow city dwellers that needed a taste of nature was not our idea of enjoying the outdoors. The number of times the three of us were able to connect and feel rejuvinated from a needed escape from our busy world were far and few between. These were no longer things we were willing to compromise on.
And then there was the cost. A primary reason for taking our hiatus from the city was in an effort to save enough money to buy our first home and escape the rental life. However, cost of living in the city was rising, and it grew at a frightening rate over the months we were away. Our options became those of fighting tooth and nail for a town house in the city with no yard or the far reaching suburbs. This was just simply not what our family was looking for.
Upon this realization in early summer and Ben becoming a full-time remote employee (aka we could live wherever we like as long as there is internet and airport access) we concluded that we needed some new options. We began researching towns in Washington and various parts of Oregon that had more affordable housing and met our nature needs. We even began putting offers in on houses in Bend, Or. Our prospects were exciting but nothing felt "right".
It was the beginning of September and we knew if we were to move before winter some decisions needed to be made soon. And so we did.
After a lengthy visit with Ben's family in one of our favorite places, the universe gave us a sign. Montana.
It was the state where Ben grew up and where we first met. We returned yearly for visits but never seriously considered moving back. The list of reasons against it was lengthy. Reasons like my family all lived within a days driving along the west coast. Many of my favorite people still lived in Portland and we would now be 9 hours away. Moving 11 hrs from the ocean. I didn't think I could handle living through Montana winters again. I was unsure of the potential for my photography. It goes on...but eventually, the more I went through that list, the cons just didn't matter more than the pros. All the cons were manageable and were mostly based out of fear of change and the fear of the unexpected bend in the road. And the one thing that I couldn't ignore and was constantly tugging at me: my gut. I knew. Ben knew. We were both completely confident in making Montana our home again.
So we put an offer in on a house and are near closing. Come November, we will be relocating to Whitefish, Montana. It is a town in which we have never lived but has always called to us. It provides opportunities in a home and lifestyle we have long yearned for. We will be near much of Ben's family and closer to old friends that can help us build our community.
Sure, there are still some questions about what life will be like and how we will cope with our new environment. But the thing we have learned the past year is adapting. We have spent much of our time with only a home-base, not a home, and have learned to lean into each other through our ever shifting location. While we have no intentions of putting our travel days behind us, we are beyond ready to slow down and begin to let our roots grow in a place we feel is ideal for our family and our hearts.
I know we will visit often, since a 9 hour drive has become standard in our book, but part of me may always mourn a little for the life we once lived in Portland. It was the place of so many beginnings for us, as a family and individuals and will always be held dear. It is also the place that gave life to so many adventures and, ultimately, the one that has led us to where we are now.
We love you Portland.
Montana, we're coming home.