I’m leaving Portland for a while. We’ll just call it taking a break. It’s not you Portland, it’s me.
In all honesty, Portland is one of the best cities I could hope to live in. Every time I fly home to the PDX Airport I feel fortunate to call this place home. I know it is overwhelmingly hipster and a bit pretentious at times, but I still love it. Where else can you go to an art festival one day, hike a mountain the next and be at the coast before the weekend is over? Although I’ve been exasperated recently, I probably belong here much more than I realize.
It’s not Portland. It’s figuring out where I fit in life in general.
This all started months ago when I couldn’t put a new lease on an apartment that I absolutely loved. I just couldn’t commit to a one-year lease. The neighborhood (Mississippi) was great, the rent was reasonable, the commute was short. Yet, I couldn’t do it. Dating was a similar story.
When I look at my options and the life I think I’m supposed to live, it appears that a career, mortgage, and sensible shoes are the popular choices. So I looked into buying a house that will take 30 years of working 55+ hour weeks to pay off, two weeks of vacation a year, and then counting down to retirement. I couldn’t get excited about it – call me crazy. The entire plan seems so predictable! I didn’t want to be trapped in an endless cycle of mortgages, car payments, a work cell phone I never put down and all for the occasional escape two weeks out of the year?
I don’t really want the sensible shoes either.
This feeling reminds me of when I was in high school cheerleading. Being a cheerleader made sense to an extent because I was into wearing skirts and yelling. In a bigger city I probably would have joined a girl’s punk band. In Anaconda, Montana, cheerleading was a more viable option. It just so happened that I hated it. Everything was so stringent and scheduled; the games, the rallies, the practices… so many rules! I kept missing practice because I was working for my dad’s logging company. This was a fact that the coach didn’t seem to appreciate. The girls were also really uptight about weird stuff like their tans and making sure we all wore the same bloomers.
I eventually quit to join the Speech and Debate Team. That was one of the best decisions I ever made. Life was fun there. They were much less concerned with spray tans and much more interested in doing a good Monty Python impression.
That was more my speed.
It’s possible I just haven’t found my tribe out here, the right ‘life partner’, the right modest suburb living… But you know, it sounds like a lot more fun to attempt something totally different and see what happens than taking the predictable route. Life is just a big experiment anyway, why not see where it can take me?
Who knows, in a year I may be a plumber living in a yurt, but I’ll still be driving my Jeep. That is one commitment I made whole-heartedly.
I’m going to do some exploring and find a way to make it on my own, outside of traditional 9-5 jobs and housing developments. Let’s see what else is out there! I’m positive there are options. Although I’m sure I can even find what I need in Portland, but first I’m going to shake things up a bit. Gaining a fresh perspective always helps. I want to see my family and travel. I’ll work on my online businesses and work with my dad too.
I know I’m going to miss Portland so much. From the mountains to the city, the art and the restaurants and the very, very wonderful beer, my heart is broken to leave. I’m even going to miss the dottering Shane Co. commercials on the radio. (How will I know what “she really wants this holiday season”?!) But tough choices have to be made to make room for something new.
So, I’m leaving Portland for a while. This city still has my heart, but first, I need to figure out how to build this life for myself in a way that makes sense.
It’s probably best I see other cities for a while.
I swear Portland, it’s not you, it’s me.