I’ve lived in Tri-Cities now for almost 10 years. I grew up and graduated high school from a smaller town way up in Northwest Washington, that to me, was always “home”. This was a town where everyone knows who you are and you can’t fill up your gas tank without running into a friend or a friend of your parents. When people asked me if I grew up in Tri-Cities, I said things like:
“Oh no, I didn’t grow up here. I am from Anacortes and we’re planning on moving back before we have kids”
“Not at all. I am from Anacortes and we plan to move back before we have our second child.”
“I’m actually from Anacortes. We’re planning on moving back before our oldest son starts school.”
Just in the past year, I’ve noticed my answer to this question changing a little. When people ask me where I’m from, I say “I didn’t grow up here, but we’ve been here for several years” or something to that effect.
It didn’t occur to me that my heart was even changing and it didn’t happen overnight, but all of a sudden I realized that I now may be “home”. We’re planning on buying a new house and talking about school districts. I think this may be called putting down roots.
For one, I came to the realization that we probably weren’t going to move back “home”. We talk less and less about it as the years go on. I have met people and grown friendships, they have introduced me to their friends and so on. I got to know the people my husband works with and their families. I have put myself out there in the hopes of making new friends. I joined a local MOPS group. I have cultivated and encouraged local friendships. I have volunteered my time. Slowly, I have become invested in this community. I have begun to appreciate the great things about Tri-Cities, rather than lamenting the fact that they aren’t like “home”.
What really woke me up to this change was when I read recently that Tri-Cities was in the top 10 “Fattest Cities in America”. What? I was horrified and outraged and decided I needed to single-handedly fix it. My reaction surprised me. When did I become so entwined in this community? When did I start considering it “mine”?
While there is something comforting about living in a place where everyone knows your name, there is also something invigorating and empowering about creating your own place. Meeting and getting to know people who don’t have a pre-conceived notion of who you are is pretty fantastic. Building a life that you can call your own brings a whole new form of independence.
What I have learned is that “home” is not made of past memories or feelings of what could be or what might have been. I have embraced my new “normal” as a Mom of two toddlers, why couldn’t I embrace my life in my new city? How are my kids ever going to feel pride in their community and fondly remember their “home” if I can’t figure it out for myself?
10 years later, I am officially declaring myself home.
I would love to hear your thoughts. Have you struggled with this before? This has been a long process for me, but it’s been so nice to watch my heart slowly change.