I've seen a lot of the world over the years, starting with my childhood in the Middle East and then subsequent travels around the globe for work and pleasure. I've traveled alone and with other people, I've liked many places and loved others, but when I look back on the places I've seen so far in my life, there are a handful of places that have totally left a permanent mark on my heart. They are the places that I see myself living someday, or places that I've never felt emotions quite like I have there, they are places that have a deep hold over me, places where my emotions seem to answer all the questions. They are places that I have felt an instant connection with, places that pull me toward them.
Places in general shape me deeply but there are certain places in this world that upon my first steps there, I know immediately that it's a place that will stay with me, a place I'll miss when I'm not there, a place that will always mean something more than other places. I've been fortunate to encounter a few of these places along the way, and while I hope I come across many more in my life, these are some of the places around the world that will always mean something incredibly important to me, that will always reside in my heart when I'm not there and places that truly have shaped who I have become. These are "my places" if you will, places that mean something to me more deeply than the others, they are places that are rooted in my soul, places that will always be my special places.
If you've read this blog for any period of time, it's pretty obvious that I have a long standing love affair with the French Capitol. Paris, for me, will always be that dream city, that place that I long to be, that place that I feel a comfort come over me when I'm there. It's a place that I have a long history with, a place that just fits me completely. It's a place that I feel at home, a place that holds so many of my best memories, a place that will always be a city that I hold extremely dear.
Portland, my home city, is a place that is extremely special. I've seen a lot of the world and a lot of the United States and I have yet to find a place like Portland. It's a city that I could list on and on all the reasons why I love it, why I fit here, why I've chosen it as my home. It's a place that I immediately felt at home in, a place that I sort of knew I was meant to be, a place that has held my hand through some of the biggest moments of my life so far. It's the place I met Nick, the place I lived on my own in for the first time, it's the place I graduated from college and the place we got married. It's the place I know like the back of my hand and the place that to this day, still takes my breath away. Portland is a city that will always be in my heart, it's a place that has engrained itself deeply into my soul and it will always be my city.
It's hard to describe the way I felt in Dublin when I first visited last Fall. Ireland is a place I've heard about my whole life, it's a place I'm deeply connected to with my family, a place I still have lots of relatives. It's a place that has always held this mystery for me, a place I wasn't sure I would like but hoped I would. Turns out, I felt a deep connection to Dublin when I finally stepped foot on Irish soil. Dublin is one of those cities that just breathes an electric energy, it's a city that inspired me, a city that I could see myself living in someday. It's a place that I felt an instant connection with, a place that in a spiritual way I felt a kinship with. Dublin is a place that I'll always feel connected to, a place that holds more than just a deep love for the city but also my heritage.
I've never felt the way I did in Iceland anywhere else I've ever traveled to. I'm not sure if it was the biting cold or the spontaneous decision to take this trip, I'm not sure if it was the time of year we went (November) or the few hours of daylight each day, but Iceland changed me. Never have I seen such serene beauty as I did in the Icelandic landscape or felt such a spiritual pull as I stood alone in the middle of the snow and clouds. Iceland is a place that will forever be a turning point for me, it was a place that I felt emotions while traveling I never had before, a place that we spent every moment in wonderment at the landscape, at this beautiful untouched place.