Throughout high school, I daydreamed about moving away from my hometown of Hermiston and living in a big city with more opportunities, away from the desert and the citizens of my previous homelife. I did achieve that dream and I am very happy I did.
Winter break proved something to me. I visited my family and friends to celebrate the holidays, and it proved to me that a lot of things have changed, including myself and my perspective of the town I grew up in.
Upon returning I immediately felt whiplash from the temperature change. Not only did it snow in Hermiston but temperatures dropped as low as 10 degrees in the morning and as low as negative nine at night. Not surprisingly, I suffered from allergies a few days later. My dad poked fun at me and said that it was bound to happen since I lived in a city. It caught me off guard. Me, someone who used to love snow, now resents it and rainy weather is what my body is more accustomed to now.
I met up with my close friends, which was the first time I’d seen them since Thanksgiving break. We watched the new Spiderman movie together (that I may or may not have ugly cried too), got boba, caught up over Denny’s, explored Walmart, chaotic car rides (the usual small-town activities) — overall, many fun shenanigans that I didn’t realize I had missed. I made amazing friends in Portland and I have a few close friends who I love running errands with. But with a job and studies, I hardly have the time to have fun and get into crazy shenanigans like I used to in high school.
The holidays made me even more emotional. My grandparents and older sister with her husband and children came over to my dad’s house to celebrate with the rest of the family, which consisted of me and my siblings. For Christmas 2020, it was only my dad, my older brother, and my younger siblings who were home. My grandparents and my older sister stayed home for quarantine. All of us celebrated Christmas separated and lonely that year, thus this was the first time in over a year we celebrated with everyone. There were no more “how are you feeling” texts or Facetimes.
The day I left to return for Portland, I left with my older sister and younger brother. Running only on two hours of sleep, greasy hair, and bad breath, it was one of the most fun times I’ve had with them in a while.
We stopped by Multnomah Falls and saw it in its icy glory. We treated ourselves to The Cheesecake Factory and Dave & Busters (I won an Axolotl Plushie). It was when we said our goodbyes and they dropped me off at my dorm that it dawned on me. I will have to set aside the hometown fun for a while to refocus on responsibilities and classes. I will have to go back to making Facetime calls and texting people to let them know how my life is going.
I am not moving back to Hermiston anytime soon and I love the endless opportunities PSU has given me. I wouldn’t exchange it for anything. But I will go into this year and end winter break with a new perspective on my hometown and what I value. I appreciate my friends more, I appreciate my family more, and I appreciate the familiarity that winter break gave me that I needed. This year I will be focusing on making new amazing memories in Portland without forgetting where my roots are.