I have enjoyed my 6 years in West Virginia and have made many friends that I will hold close to my heart even as I move 2500 miles west. Having grown up in the New York City area, I was indoctrinated as a child that City was the center of the universe. Perhaps your own upbringing gave you a similar concept about your own town or region or state.
My parents took my sisters and me camping around the United States every summer so I was exposed early to the beauty of this nation, its natural treasures and its history and culture. In my adult life I moved from New Jersey to Tennessee, to Connecticut back to Tennessee and then on to West Virginia with shorter stays in Pittsburgh, Pueblo and Europe. My mom asked me once why I chose to move so far away from my home town and I reminded her it was, perhaps, her own fault, as she and dad had shown me that there were other places. But it was my decision and I have enjoyed meeting people from all over the country who have taught me that regional differences aside, we are basically the same with similar wishes for our lives.
Decisions to move have never been made lightly and this move took about six years to consider. Even as I jumped into projects and activities in Huntington, West Virginia, I knew I would be leaving. It did not stop me from being involved. In fact, just the opposite. It provided a tremendous boost to my effort, to get as much done as possible in the time I had left.
I have found over time that jumping in and getting involved is the fastest way to make friends in a new place. When I am active doing something I enjoy, the people I meet most often have a lot in common with me and connections are made. It is those connections, those friendships, that make a place enjoyable.
It is also what makes the decision to leave bittersweet. I will miss them, but I hope I have left them with positive memories of me.
As for me, it is not that I am leaving West Virginia but I am moving on to Oregon. It is this FORWARD movement that shapes my view. Come with me.