Today marks six months since I arrived at my new home of Chesterton, Indiana. Along with my daughter, Meriwether, and my dog, Matilda, I drove the 2,000 or so miles from Portland, Oregon to a small town about 40 miles east of Chicago. Portland was the city of my birth and my lifetime home, except for a few sojourns in places like Chicago and Istanbul.
My main reason for leaving home was that my son, Cory, had settled in Chesterton with his wife and daughter, moving there during the pandemic to be closer to Katie’s family. But soon a son was on the way and Cory wanted his side of the family to be better represented.
My other reason for leaving home was that I was sick at heart over what had become of Portland. As a writer, the subject of Portland had long been my bread and butter. I had written so many glowing accounts of my hometown and its denizens for the likes of People Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times that I was given an award from what was then the Portland Oregon Visitors Association (now Travel Portland) for bringing our town to the attention of a national audience.
But by the time I left, I barely recognized Portland as the place I had loved to brag about in my articles. Every time I drove downtown past boarded-up businesses and destroyed city landmarks, I was filled with anger at the feckless city officials who had looked the other way during our downtown’s ruin, and grave disappointment that a place with such promise and beauty had been allowed to collapse.
With no regrets, I left Portland behind and set my sights for Indiana.
Now that six months have passed, I can report that I have never been happier. I’m delighted to be grandma to Octavia and Quintus, and although my surroundings are much different from the tall trees and snowy mountains I loved seeing in Portland, I’m impressed by the beauty of Northwest Indiana, especially the Indiana Dunes along Lake Michigan.
Also, it hasn’t been difficult to find new subjects for my writing. There are interesting stories everywhere and already I’ve profiled a local hiking enthusiast for AARP the Magazine and have been a contributing writer for the local newspaper, The Chesterton Tribune.
I never imagined I would move away from Portland. But now, even while in the throes of my first Indiana winter, I’m sure glad I did.