I Left Half My Heart in Oregon

Endless green in western Oregon, where I grew up

By Regina Winkle-Bryan

I just spent a couple months in the States, mostly on the West Coast where I grew up. Now I’m back in Barcelona, and for the first time in a long time, I have ‘homesickness’, which got me thinking on that old question, “Where is home?” To which you reply, “Home is where the heart is, of course.” And what if your heart is in two places? Can you love two homes equally and completely? Is this whole train of thought heading straight for an ‘open relationship’ argument? Yikes.

There are certain aspects of Oregon and the small town that I grew up in that I miss. For instance, I miss the quiet. As a tween and teen I hated that same calm and every chance I got I fled from it to Portland or wherever else ‘exciting’ I could get to.

The smell of fresh cut hay in the air, fields in Oregon

Maybe that need for excitement landed me here, in Barcelona, Spain, where as I type these words there is a carnival (with rides, games, cotton candy and chaos) outside my window. It’s been there for a few days now and the constant din makes me yearn to hear nothing more than the wind in the trees and an occasional lawn mower, the soundtrack to my hometown.

I also miss all the green in every shade: emerald, lime, deep forest, almost blue, turquoise. The green in western Oregon is endless, and when I left this last trip the air smelled of fresh cut hay, water, and the approach of fall.

Giant trees in Oregon, not far from where I grew up

Barcelona, on the other hand, smells like salt but also like urine, garbage and people cooking fish. Cities are like that, you know, smelly. Soon Barcelona will smell like roasted chestnuts and sweet potatoes, a scent I prefer over urine any day.

Busy Barcelona under a sunny, blue sky

The point is, I suppose, that you can’t have it all. You can have a lot, but perfect doesn’t exist. You can’t have the sea of Oregon green without months of constant rain. You can’t have an exciting life in Barcelona and expect it to also be quiet. This makes me conclude that I have the best of both worlds. I have two love affairs with two different slices of this Earth, where I have two sets of friends, families, and homes. I have the peace and I have the party – I’ve got what they call ‘abundance’.

5 Responses

  1. Georgina says:

    Cool piece – should resonate with more than a few people who didn’t grow up in a city but live in one now.

  2. admin says:

    Thanks. You can take a girl out of the country, but never the country out of the girl, or whatever the hell the saying is.

  3. Kirsten Carpentier says:

    Love this one!! Thanks for this reflection on how you can have it all…

  4. ChrisCiolli says:

    Great piece. I grew up in a relatively small midwestern town, and have a pretty similar perspective. As a young person I was desperate to escape, but now I miss the quiet, and the green spaces, not to mention the privacy of living in a house surrounded by it’s own outdoor space. Also glad to know I’m not the only one that notices and is bothered by the fact that Barcelona smells of urine. Because it does. It’s always there, one of the layers of smells in a very smelly city.

  5. admin says:

    The good with the bad. The smell of urine but also the smell of fideua!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge