Today’s post comes to us from Steve.
I have always had a strong sense of place. Born in Iowa, I grew up regarding Minnesota as my natural home. I left Iowa in 1960, and for 54 years I was proud to call myself a Minnesotan. Then in 2014 I sold my pink bungalow and moved to Portland, Oregon, driving 1,745 miles in two ferocious days. The main reason for changing my life so dramatically was a desire to be closer to my daughter and grandson. On Trail Baboon “Saint Paul Steve” became “Happy Valley Steve.” I settled into an apartment near the top of a small mountain. In view of my age, I was sure I’d never set foot outside of Oregon. Indeed, because of my physical limitations, I have not often set foot outside my apartment in three years.
Guess what? In June I will travel 2,400 miles to set up a new home in Michigan. “Happy Valley Steve” will become “Port Huron Steve,” or something like that. I’ll get a Michigan driving license and slap Michigan plates on my old Subaru.
Why make such a dramatic move when I only got to Oregon three summers ago? My son-in-law has accepted a job in Port Huron, the town he grew up in and where his mother and brother still reside. He, my daughter and my grandson returned to his childhood home for Christmas a few weeks ago. That home, built in the 19th century, is parked right on the edge of the Saint Clair River. The photos with this article were taken of that on their visit. My son-in-law came back to Portland convinced he really belonged in the Midwest, and that he should do something to make a return to Port Huron possible.
And me? How is it that I’m moving back to the Midwest? I’m like a gimpy old dog that my family rescued from a canine shelter. Having adopted me, they cannot abandon me now. I should start rooting for Michigan athletic teams, for they routinely kick the butts of Minnesota teams. In any fight between a gopher and a wolverine, my money is on the wolverine! But my heart still hopes the gopher will prevail. Hey, you Gophers, Ski-U-Mah! Whatever the hell that means.
I hope the upcoming move will be less wrenching than the one I’ve done. It would be even nicer if I feel more at home in Port Huron than I have in Portland. Oregon is astonishingly beautiful, at least in places, and Portland is a fascinating city. It is only slightly less quirky than “Portlandia” suggests. I expected to feel at home with Portland’s progressive politics, but each day I spend here offers fresh proof that I am a Minnesotan and always will be. I have found Portland to be like a gorgeous girlfriend who chain smokes and makes a toxic mess of her personal finances. She’s irresistible, yet it is hard to believe things will end well for her. And whenever I drive through Portland a little voice whispers, “This isn’t home, is it? We don’t belong here.”
My daughter knew it would not be easy to tell my grandson, Liam, about the move. Ever since he was a toddler, Liam (now seven) has struggled with “transitions.” Now he faces losing all his friends and leaving his wonderful Montessori school to start up life again in a strange land where nobody knows him. Liam raised some concerns, which his mother attempted to address. Then Liam said, “But Grampy, Mom . . . what about him? I can’t leave Grampy behind!” My daughter said, “Oh, no Liam! We’d never leave Grampy. When we move, he comes with us.” Liam reflected and finally smiled. “Well, then I guess we’re good. We can do this.”
When have you taken a leap of faith and moved?