Generally, when writing these pieces, I look for something that defines a person. During the interview, I ask a specific set of questions designed to get to the core of a person I may or may not have ever even met before.
As I proceeded through my interview with Melissa Magallanez, the one thing I noticed the most is that she’s moved around… a lot. Although she now calls Vancouver, Washington home (hey, that still counts as a PDX Person), she was born in El Paso, Texas, then moved to Arizona when she was twelve and finally Portland when she was 19.
Wait, I suppose “finally” isn’t the right word to use there, because after six months in Portland she wound up going back to El Paso, then to Phoenix and a town called Rio Rico (also in Arizona), back to Portland, back to Rio Rico, then back to El Paso.
Still with us?
After that stint in El Paso, she moved to Wichita Falls, Texas, then to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, then – of all places – Lakenheath, England. Could you guess where she went from there? No, you couldn’t. Probably not in a million guesses. Minot, North Dakota. Then – and this is where I can finally say finally – she wound up back in the Pacific Northwest, where she has remained ever since.
As you can probably guess, the military had something to do with all her moving.
“I got pregnant just after I turned twenty,” she says. “So pretty much my entire adulthood has been as a mother. After having Amy, we quickly got married and he joined the Air Force. So really, most of my adulthood was spent being a military spouse and mom.”
Except she’s not a military spouse anymore, a blessing in being able to stay in one place. In fact, when asked what makes her tick, her answer explains it all.
“My ex,” she bluntly replies. “He makes me tick. Like a time bomb. Like, one day I will eventually explode.”
The last thing we want to do is cause Melissa to reach critical mass, so we move on to a more inspiring topic, one that seems to have graced these pages quite a bit of late.
“In 2009, at twenty-eight years old,” she says, “I decided to go back to school, and in 2014 I got my Bachelor’s in Accounting.”
An accomplishment in-and-of itself considering her status as a single mom, Melissa still finds time to enjoy the finer, grander and yet deeper aspects of life.
“I like to get out into nature and go for a hike. Get off the grid and enjoy nature. I love to lay on the grass in the summer at night and look at the stars and think how we as humans are such a tiny spec in this giant universe,” she says before reminding us she is still human after all.
“Don’t get me wrong,” she says with a wry smile, “I still love the occasional Netflix binge.”
With all the moving around, Netflix binge or no, one can only wonder, is Portland finally home for this single mom and serial mover?
Based on her answer, fearing that everyone will “see how amazing and great Portland is,” we think so, and the city is better off for it. Welcome home, Melissa!
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William Bessette – PDX People Contributor
William Bessette is a journalist and freelance writer who has been covering politics, entertainment, culture and travel for over thirteen years. When he’s not profiling Portland-area restaurants and residents, you can find him reporting on national and international travel and eco-tourism through his travel brand, Floppy Hat Adventures.