san diego, california
it's a hard feeling to describe, how someplace can just *feel* like home, but as i look over the cities on my list, i know it has something to do with expectations, first impressions and instant memories.
as a kid growing up in kansas, colorado is a magical place. drive just eight hours and you're in a whole new world. i couldn't wait to visit ouray, colorado as a kid. i was told we would be staying in an old hotel in a secluded mountain town and that's exactly what we did. becoming friends with the family who owned the hotel may have helped add to the experience. i was able to explore a place which had been in operation since the 1800's, an amazing adventure to have as a kid and exceeded any expectations my little adolescent brain had. memories from that trip have stayed with me to this day, including the best peanut butter pie i've ever had. it felt like home.
manhaattan kansas was a different feeling. i was trying to decide where to go to college and kansas state was not on my list, i didn't want to visit it and i didn't want to like it. my expectations were low. however after spending a day on campus i loved it. i loved how the limestone buildings bordered the grass filled quad. the tress filled in their fall foliage put the vision over the top. in my mind, it felt the way college was suppose to feel, it felt like home.
my whole life i had wanted to visit california. a place where things happened, a place with culture, a place with an ocean. my expectations were high when i finally visited the state at age 18. i saw celebrities, i surfed, i saw a shark and i watched the sun set over the pacific ocean. there was just something about california and especially san diego. it felt alive and youthful. maybe it didn't feel like home as much as i just wanted it to be home; which i eventually did for a little bit years later.
portland and austin were hipster fantasy lands in the mid oughts. everything in my life i was interested in during that time was pointing me towards these two cities. music, coffee, beer, food trucks, flannel shirts, trucker hats.....these two cities at that time were peaks in the hipster timeline and i was glad i had a chance to visit them when i did. a home of culture.
boothbay was different. i had no real expectations, it was just a regular weekend trip. however upon entering this little village tucked around a small bay, if felt quintessentially maine. lobster boats by the dock and seafood restaurants on the shore. to add to the experience it was a weekend of their "harbor fest" so everyone was in goods spirits. in the short time we were there the locals made us feel incredibly welcome. somehow in the middle of all this friendliness i was entered into an oyster chucking contest. a contest that brought more humor to those watching me than anything else. expectations were exceeded, the first impression was picturesque and the whole weekend was filled with memories and even a few souvenirs. i was gifted an oyster chucking knife and glove for my effort.
for a few days, i felt a part of a small community. for a guy who grew up in a town of 2,000 it really did feel like a home...away from home...away from home.