Best words I could ever hear from a friend. It makes sense, now, why I talk about my home all the time, why I can’t get it out of my head or my heart or my soul, why I swear that place and its people shaped me, why it’s the biggest and greatest part of my story and my past. I have said for so long that *I* only make sense in light of the place and people who raised me, and the Jesus who saved and continues to save me.
Some dear Texas friends of mine visited our tiny mountain village not too long ago. Mom and Dad picked them up from the airport and drove them down the winding desert roads to our little house in town.
One morning, they woke up and followed the directions I sent them to my favorite hike, a few miles out of town and way up in the mountains. It’s the hike I take every time I’m home, with my dear childhood friend Hayley. We always have a year or more of catching-up to do on our way to the top, and we usually continue on off-trail to the base of the mountain, a few miles in the distance. No matter the weather, we take our clothes off and jump in the lake after our descent.
And then, maybe ten years ago now, they built a movie theater there among the trees. Four screens. I went on a lot of dates in that little movie-barn. Spent a lot of time there with friends. Before we could drive, someone’s mom or dad would drop us all off and pick us all up, out front. And when Austin turned 16 before the rest of us, he became our honorary chauffeur.
I wanted them to see the forge where I learned to change my oil and rotate my tires with my Hayden-friend who gave me my very first Carhart jacket. The forge where I spent many nights my senior year, hammering out a damascus steel rosette for the guitar I spent the year building. It was in the parking lot of that forge, on a blizzardy and icy night, where Hayden taught me to pull my E-break and spin cookies. He’s the same friend who’d pick me up in his truck at sunrise on summer mornings and say “hop in–I’ve got coffee.” We’d bounce down old dirt roads, splashing the burning black stuff all over his cloth seats, listening to old-time country music, and I’d watch him shoe horses.
They didn’t have time to swing by The Hangar, where I spent every Wednesday night learning about Jesus from Dan Keels, or Sisters Community Church, where I was raised by The Village. They didn't see the elementary school fields, where Dad took Jake and I to fly kites and launch rockets, or The Pumphouse, where I bought my first pack of wood-tipped cigars for myself and my girlfriends one night when we needed them for our bonfire around the lake. They didn’t make it up to Hoodoo, where I learned to ski and spent every winter skiing and playing cards in the lodge for the majority of my life, and they didn’t see Billy Chinook, where I spent every summer wakeboarding and water skiing.
They didn’t walk on the dock at Suttle Lake–which I’ve been jumping off since I was six years old, and they didn’t have time to run out to the Metolius to drink from its crystal waters like I have so many times.
They didn’t know that Eagle Rock held me as a 6 year-old girl when I was brand new to the town and about to start first grade, and that it’s the first place I ran to when I arrived “home” fourteen years later after having left to see the world and start college in a state 2,000 miles away. They didn’t get to see my initials carved deep in the oak tree at the top.
They got to see the mountains that greeted me every morning for 15 years–the mountains where I first learned to backpack in the snow, with IEE friends and leaders.
I’ve decided that I flew far, and wide, for long enough. I’ve decided that the rest of the world has its beauty, and living in new countries and states is great, but there is truly no place like Sisters, Oregon.
I’ve decided, Lord willing, to go Home–to the mountains, to my family, and to the little town that has made a little Sisters-shaped hole in my heart.