Although I have already posted a blog raving about how much I love my friends I thought it was about time to ‘jump on the band-wagon’, as it were, and write a proper post.
The reason I am writing this now is that over the past few days my life has slipped back into ‘normality’, shall we say. I am back to early nights and early starts; back to being stressed and disillusioned with my job; back to feeling like there is something missing from my life. The difference this time is that I know what is missing - because I found it in Portland! And this makes me very very happy :)
Although I had known the people for a while online - some almost a year – it was nerve racking leaving my country and travelling by myself to meet them. I was having thoughts such as ‘what if they don’t like me’, ‘what if we don’t get on in real life’, ‘what happens if I want to leave’ etc (the usual for people lacking self-esteem). But when I got to Oregon I realised how stupid and trivial and unnecessary my worries had been. Why? Because I felt like I had found my real home.
I know the exact moment when I realised everything would be ok. It was Monday morning at about 9am. Michael (who had picked me up from the airport at about 12:30am after I had spent about 15 hours sitting on planes) and I were waiting were waiting outside his house for James, Adam and Amber to pull up. I was excited and a bit nervous to meet them as they pulled up. I began saying hello and before I knew it James gave me a massive hug spinning me round in circles as if I were a friend he hadn’t seen in years. That was the moment that I knew I had made the best decision of my life.
The trip was, in short, life changing.
I want to explain a bit about what I mean when I say ‘life changing’. Obviously I have the same friends here in England, I have the same job, the same family, the same cats, the same routine etc. So what has changed since I have been back? Well without going into much detail (although if you are interested I am perfectly happy to talk about it one- to-one), quite a few years ago now I encountered an incredible change in my family life. It affected my life immensely. I would even say completely.
I did not cope very well with the problems we faced as a family and I am afraid to say that I never sought help. Because of this I have spent quite a few years struggling to do things like be decisive, be confident, be strong. Although I still studied then graduated in a lot of ways I felt like my life had been stopped temporarily, and I didn’t know how to get it back. And I don’t feel I did get it back, not really... not until Portland.
Well, I guess it really started when I discovered the Green brothers and nerdfighting. Finally a community where being nerdy was cool and learning was important! This obviously led to vlogtag (the best collab channel on YouTube, I don't care if I am biased), which led to the Classy Ladies, which led to Portland.
For the first time I felt like I had done something just for me. I travelled a long distance (about 11,500 miles in total) by myself to go on a holiday that I had decided to take on my own. But just doing this wasn’t enough to change my life. This was just part of it. The other part was the feeling of wholeness that I discovered in Portland. When there were 14 people in Room 612 just relaxing, talking, singing and laughing together I couldn’t think of a single thing I would rather be doing. I felt like I had known them for years and years and years. And it was then that I felt complete again.
As most people know there has been a lot of crying this week. And despite not having a tear-free day since coming back to England the people here will never be able to fully understand how or even comprehend why I miss the people I met in Portland so much. Thinking about my friends makes me want to dance around the house naked. Ok... not naked. Just dance around the house.
I haven’t worked out what all of these feelings mean in literal terms. So for the moment I will reluctantly return to my normal routine - as I must - but I will do so with a heart full of my online family and knowing that my friends in the U.S. are holding a little piece of me with them as they inevitably do the same.
I can’t wait for the next gathering. And I can’t wait to meet the rest of our family i.e. the classy ladies who could not make Portland. I would sell my arms and legs if I had to, just to all be together again (luckily I have a job so limb hacking should not become necessary). I just can’t put into words how privileged I am to be so close to such wonderful, talented, funny, kind and generous people. I love everyone to bits!
I hope this blog hasn’t been too heavy. I have written it from the heart and that does tend to come with a lot of extra cheese. Every time I see a picture, a video, a blog post, a tweet or anything that even mentions Portland I can’t help smiling.
Classy ladies chat - thanks for making me so happy.