When I was growing up my definitions of home changed drastically, and today I consider myself lucky to call multiple places across the globe my home. The first two years of my life in Oregon, I had real trouble settling in because I was so determined to hate being so far away from Europe and the place I had considered home my entire life. Also, at the angst-filled age of 17, even the best opportunities were viewed negatively.
I didn't know where Oregon was until I landed there on the 31st August, 2009, and the first thing I noticed was the size of everything: big cars, loud carpet, and tall trees all surrounded me and reminded me that I was about to embark on a journey. I was hesitant to allow myself to fall in love with Portland or the Beaver State. I fought against this beautiful place, clinging to a home 5,000 miles away and telling anyone who would listen that I was leaving with my high school diploma on the first plane out. Though I did leave and visit my dearly missed European homes, Oregon had her ways of bringing me back.
Since 2009 I have considered my home to be in airports as they seem to be the one place I am guaranteed to explore multiple times a year. In times of joy, it is always a pleasure to connect with strangers as we pass time together; friends I've made who I wouldn't have known had we not been on different adventures in the same place at the same time. In times of grief, the comfort of the familiar routine guides me through the hard goodbyes and the heartbreak of farewell.
I find camaraderie with the airport staff who guide me, share a smile, and have even given me a hug when I need to calm my nerves or regain my composure. I treasure the friendships that were made for me by the fate of seat assignments on long-haul flights. I always know I can look out over the sunrise kissed clouds and I find a sense of belonging. I find a certain strange comfort in midnight turbulence that jolts you awake from restless sleep to remind you that you are flying through the sky in a metal tube with a couple of hundred strangers, with nothing but those sunrise kissed clouds below to catch you.
Now five years older (and hopefully five years wiser), I have a deep love for Oregon that I will never shake. The tall trees offered me a beautiful landscape to explore by myself or with friends, and make memories I'll treasure forever. Portland and Eugene were kind to me with vibrant culture and people I could never have imagined meeting if I'd stayed in Europe. It quickly became obvious that many of the friends I made were always going to have a place in my heart, these friends became part of my family. I'm happy that my 17 year-old-self grew up because there's no point in harbouring so much negativity, when you can make the most of what you've got, and fall in love instead.
Home is wherever I find my family and friends close by. Today I left behind a new home, The Embassie Hostel in Liverpool, and the eccentrics who welcomed me and made me one of their own. I have the great opportunity ahead of me to go to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to reunite with my wonderful parents and our little French Bulldog and see what happens next. I know how lucky I am to grow up with the privilege of travel, and I always take comfort in knowing no matter where I'm headed, I can always find home at 30,000 ft.