Lesson Two: Finding Meaning in Small Talk Concerning an Impending Cross-Country Move

Most people we love or have been close to in our lives have good intentions. We catch up and have conversations about the near-past, present and near-future, and we care enough about the other person to get the background information before moving on to more interesting discourse. Good intentions don’t prevent emotional incandescence or tetchy conversational evolution, regardless of how neutral the pretense. Association depends on interpretation. In other words, if I’m having a neutral conversation and it becomes partisan, it might be because I’m being to damned sensitive.

It might help to mention that I am currently transitioning from Portland (Oregon) to an unknown city via my home state of Maryland. After many months of vacillation, I decided to move and I’m still unsure if the decision borders on correct (read this if you care for even more elaboration on the subject of decision-making), but it’s happening.

It hurts to go, because it means leaving people and places I love. I don’t have to drive, I’m not even peripherally presented with ignorant or closed-minded people, development hasn’t ruined the gorgeous landscape, and I can go for a hike without even leaving the city. These are all reasons to stay. On the other hand, the economy is crap, over-educated creative types make up a significant part of the population (which is also a plus, but unfortunately we’re all unemployed and looking for the same three jobs), my family is only accessible via an expensive, annoying and ecologically insensitive day of plane rides, and I’m treading cold water.

I’ll only know in hindsight how much of this is rationalization, but this is in a strange way what I’m hoping for. I want to be sure about something again. Anything, really. Even if the only thing I’m sure of is that I shouldn’t have left Oregon, that would be just fine with me. I’m allowing myself to become covered in moss and this is disturbing and gross. I can come back. But only if I leave now.

I’ve learned that although I love Portland, I’ll never get that first year back. It was fucking magic. I didn’t mind biking in the rain, I had a ridiculously close group of intelligent and beautiful friends, I was working towards a goal. I was working hard, playing hard, and I was in love but all things come to an end. I got a Master of Architecture months ago. I bummed around for the summer. I was successful in both of those pursuits, but now I’m lost. The city reminds me of this daily. Growth and confidence are the only things I know I want for sure, and my instinct is telling me to leave to get them.

A conversation I had a few hours ago brought me to these words. When I tell people I’m leaving Portland, I usually end up justifying my decision partly by mentioning the new places I’m interested in. Currently I’m focusing on New England, specifically the original American Portland, the one in Maine. I know nothing of significance and I’m aware I might change my mind, but I’m drawn to it somehow.

It seems like the first thing that most people mention when the word “Maine” pops out of my mouth is that the winters are cold. God, really? I have no concept of weather patterns outside Oregon so thanks for mentioning this as I wouldn’t have ever known otherwise. The second thing is that it is a very small city. Again: thanks, I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO KNOWLEDGE OF HOW THE INTERNET WORKS NOR ANY ABILITIES IN SPATIAL RECOGNITION, COMPARATIVE OR OTHERWISE. Shit.

I know now I react this way because I’m sensitive about the subject, not because the person speaking thinks I’m an idiot. I’m still very unsure and it makes me uncomfortable to think that I am in the middle of making a bad decision. But I’ll never know if I don’t try, so I’m strangely happy to keep having the same conversation over and over if it moves me closer to finding my new goal. Bring on the unknown.

So if you live in Portland, Maine and you see a cold, lost, short-haired girl visiting alone in a brand new winter coat, come say hello and remind me that Maine is much colder and smaller than Oregon. I might even thank you.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: