Where the Heart is

When I met Risa in July 2013, she was wearing Uggs. I let it go -my hatred for Uggs- because Sean, Jeremiah’s housemate, had toted Risa as “really cool.” Sean’s not easily impressed. I gave her the benefit of a doubt.

When Risa and her straight blond hair stepped into my life, Jeremiah, Sean, and Jimmy had owned a house together for a few years, and I’d been dating Jeremiah for 2-and-a-half years. Our friends the Secret Keeper and Promise Breaker had moved to Maryland nearly a year earlier, and I had bemoaned the fact that Jeremiah and I did not have a couple-friend for double dates. However, I had told Jeremiah, “I don’t think Sean will ever be our couple friend.” I was wrong. Risa changed everything.

Our Couple Friend

By the winter of 2013-2014, we were seeing movies, playing board games, going out to dinner and drinks, and working on cars in the shop together. A switch was flipped when Risa walked in to that Portland, Oregon house.

Over the next couple of years, the guys sold their house, Risa and Sean moved in together, Jeremiah and I moved into a house in the country – but we were still brunch-eaters, board-game players, dog-petters. Then, the day came (the day that Risa had planned for since before she knew Sean) that they made the move back to California, away from Portland. Back to her big, boisterous, warm family in the Bay area. A part of my heart was packed away in their big moving truck.

Oregon just wasn’t the same for me then. We never did have a full replacement couple-friend. That era was over. Jeremiah and I put in a couple more busy years in Oregon, then we hit the road and haven’t been back since 2018.


Now, we’re in California, spending time with Risa and Sean, and I’m wondering all over again how I’m going to say goodbye to them, especially since now there is a 16-month-old toddler who can say my name and who smiles when I get to their house nearly every evening that we’re here. A mini Risa.

On weeknights, we head over, and Jeremiah and Sean watch youtube videos on cooking and welding and talk about cars and video games. We’ve played half a dozen games. Cooked in their beautiful kitchen. Taken walks in their neighborhood… and it all feels like home. And that’s hard – because in the end, we don’t feel like this RV journey is over. We don’t know where home is yet – but sometimes it really is where the heart is.

Family Dinner

On Sunday nights, we go over to Risa’s parents house for Family Dinner while we’re here. It is not lost on us how incredibly special that is – to be able to be invited into someone’s home as family warms even my cold heart. Her family is loud; children are constantly yelling and throwing toys, and her parents take everything in stride as they serve a dozen of us dinner. Her dad falls asleep on the couch while his grandkids pile pillows on him after he does the dishes, and Risa’s sister frets that her daughter mixed up her sippy cup with someone else’s. Last night, we spent three minutes looking for one of the kids who had hid in a closet. Even during the loudest moments, I understand why Risa had to go back to California after living in Oregon. That is where her heart is.

This RV life has given us opportunities we wouldn’t have normally had. Living fulltime in a home on wheels means we get to spend six weeks here in California visiting our friends, instead of a weekend in a hotel. Living on the road also makes things harder sometimes; decisions like when to leave, for instance, are a lot rougher when some of our best friends are 20 miles down the road. We don’t know when we’re leaving the Bay area for sure yet. What I am certain of is that I am so grateful Risa stepped into that house, and my heart, in Portland, Oregon, wearing those Uggs that day in July many years ago.

2 thoughts on “Where the Heart is

  1. Your beautiful words about such a beautiful girl, friendship, family made me stop and be still and imagine the times you all have shared. I hope that your 2020 word “clarity” will help you on the day you decide you have to move on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *