East or West, home is best. – proverb
I’m not a small-town girl anymore. Granted, I’ve moved to a small[ish] city for grad school, but that doesn’t make me a small-town girl. However, just a few months ago, I was concerned about making the decision between going to a smaller city or staying in beautiful Seattle, WA.
What changed? And how am I not completely miserable with the transition back to Cow Town, USA?
Most people know that I put down the Wenatchee Valley. Sure, it’s my hometown, but I don’t relate to it anymore. That’s not to say that I don’t cherish the memories I made there, especially all the nights my friends and I had to get creative to find any fun. (Usually, that resulted in us going to Shari’s and making the servers’ lives miserable. Teenagers, I swear.) I feel stifled after a few days there; I wonder if I’ll get to a point in time where I wouldn’t feel that way. But at this moment, it’s not really a major concern. I do know, however, that I grew up in that city and turned out just fine. (I think.) It was a matter of finding good people and good fun– even though that involved a lot of Shari’s, Hastings, and drives up to the top of Burch Mountain.
I hated western Washington when I moved there. I hated the new culture, the unfamiliarity, and the feeling of being an outsider in my own home state. In retrospect, it was a disorienting time in life, which is actually a factor in development and growth. (Thank you, student development theory.) I was lucky in that I actively decided to stop being so attached to the familiar after several weeks; after that point in time, I started seeking out fun activities and creating memories with my new friends. And being in Bellingham, WA made all of that even more enjoyable– after an extended amount of time, I found myself forgetting why I had missed “home” so much. Bellingham had become “real” home.
I had the unfortunate experience of being “home”less for about a year when I moved to Everett. Sure, I had a place to sleep, but that was not home. Thank goodness I made the move to Seattle. Seattle is a city that thrives. It’s a city that doesn’t let the rain put a damper on things. (Snow is another issue.) Seattle has life, and it was exactly what I needed last year. Seattle helped me make the brief leap to Madrid, and it helped me get my feet back on the ground in the midst of this quarter-life crisis.
I’ve had the best of both worlds. I know that I can enjoy small towns, if they have some sort of culture that I can relate to. I also know that I love cities; it’s all about finding the neighborhoods that make the big city feel like home. And as a twenty-something, I’m more at home in a city right now. Since I’m in a two-year Master’s program, the question of, “Where will you go once you’re done?” always comes up. Right now, the answer is, “I’ll go home.” Where “home” is, I’ll find out soon enough. All I can say at this point is that it will have to be a city– but who knows which corner of the world?