Digging to Roam

Pacific Girl: Feeling My Pacific Northwest Roots

Age, late 20s

Pacific Northwest Roots

In the weeks leading up to my journey to the Pacific Northwest, I was experiencing higher than normal levels of anxiety. Trying to chase and catch enough jobs so I would have enough money to pay rent and pay for my trip. I suppose I was feeling a sense of nervousness because I would be revisiting the beaches where I left behind the footprints of my childhood. I hadn’t been back to Oregon or Washington for nearly five years. So much has happened since that last trip, including losing my dad who used to hold my hand when we walked on the dark colored sands of Southwest Washington at the mouth of Grays Harbor.

Pacific Girl Boat

Even on the way here, I didn’t believe the trip was really happening. I’ve taken a lot of long haul flights. While in transit, each one feels like the last. I was lucky enough to have my own seat with no one next to me on two legs of my journey. I curled up in a ball and slept as well as anyone can in a coach seat. I helped a sweet little elderly lady from Argentina who couldn’t figure out where to go after customs in Dallas-Fort Worth and I helped her again in Los Angeles. I felt an ego boost for communicating with her in Spanish on my home turf, something I was not able to do only nine months ago when I was living in Vermont.

When I finally arrived in Portland, Oregon’s PDX airport, it felt like coming home. The classic PDX carpet welcomed me and I made my way past the familiar gates I’d traveled through many times before. I was met by a friendly face, Uncle Rich. His presence reminded me of the love that is there for me in that part of the world. He brought me to the train station and I hopped on a train up to Olympia, where my cousin Shandra met me and drove me half way to Westport. At the half way point my brother-in-law, Brandon, picked me up and drove me the rest of the way to my mom’s sweet little condo on the beach. Finally at one of my many homes, I was giddy with excitement and barely noticed the four hour jetlag or the 32 hour travel time that was turning my eyes red and puffy.

The weekend was filled with family love and warm beautiful weather. I saw my great aunt perked up like she hasn’t been in years. We stayed up way later than she ever does, while we all chatted and laughed at the table, just as our family has been doing for as long as I can remember. I saw a new generation learning to love the cool ocean breezes and abundant wildlife that resides in Grays Harbor.

Hope on Beach

Even on the way here, I didn’t believe the trip was really happening. I’ve taken a lot of long haul flights. While in transit, each one feels like the last. I was lucky enough to have my own seat with no one next to me on two legs of my journey. I curled up in a ball and slept as well as anyone can in a coach seat. I helped a sweet little elderly lady from Argentina who couldn’t figure out where to go after customs in Dallas-Fort Worth and I helped her again in Los Angeles. I felt an ego boost for communicating with her in Spanish on my home turf, something I was not able to do only nine months ago when I was living in Vermont.

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4 Comments

  1. Katie Dwyer on May 20, 2014 at 9:25 am

    I recently had a really similar experience flying into PDX after two years living abroad. I would have said I didn&#39;t have a home base in the US, particularly as I grew up in Colorado. But seeing Mount Hood from the runway I felt so strongly that I was home. <br /><br />Since it was only a visit, I&#39;m not exactly sure how to deal with that emotion. For now, I&#39;m grateful to know that I

    • Kristance Harlow on May 28, 2014 at 11:08 pm

      Thanks Katie! Yes, you don’t know where you’ll suddenly feel like you’ve found home . Sometimes it can be somewhere you’ve never even been!

  2. Rose L on May 16, 2014 at 4:18 am

    Enjoy the youth of springtime while you are here. To me, the NW is nurturing and loving. Enjoy the memories you will create with your family and friends.

  3. mplanck on May 15, 2014 at 2:58 pm

    Welcome home, Kristance! I know your family roots are stretching wide and deep as you reconnect with the familiar people and venues of the past. Refresh, renew, and then come to se us!

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