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Starting Over

"I Moved 3,000 Miles Away—Alone"

Page: 5 of 5
  • We drove 45 minutes out of the city and went snowshoeing on a mountain, the clouds of mist hanging low over the trees like I'd wandered into the serene cover of the bookSnow Falling on Cedars. That night, we made friends in line at a 24-hour doughnut shop known for its hot pink skull decor and oddball flavors like Cap'n Crunch. I felt like I'd finally found my place, where I could have the creativity, hyper-literacy, quirkiness, and foodie culture of a city, along with access to farmers' markets and mountains. Plus, no one would look down on my desire to make jam, to wear Converse instead of Louboutins. Here, people made a conscious effort to have time for things other than work. No one even asked me what I did for a living, let alone which house published my books. Coming from New York, this was revelatory. Here, I could be defined by who I am, not what I do.

    Against the advice of my mother, I didn't go back to Portland to "make sure" before I moved there. I'd found an exit strategy from my stagnant unhappiness, and I refused to overthink it. I signed a lease through Craigslist on a dusty blue 1920s bungalow with original wood floors and crystal doorknobs, small luxuries I'd never had in New York, like a dishwasher and a washer-dryer, and a grassy backyard for my dog. The night I said good-bye to my friends, I couldn't stop crying (different tears than my city-induced breakdowns) and kissing their cheeks, both sad to leave them and panicked I was making a mistake—who moved 3,000 miles away all alone? My hands shaking in bed that night, I told myself I could always come back—the only thing I'd lose was the $2,000 I paid the movers.

    In the morning, I took a taxi to the airport. As the blocks I'd walked a hundred times sped by, my stomach was a hard fist, but my eyes were dry. This time, I chose flight.

    Next month: Culture shock. See what happens when Sarah relearns how to drive and meets people who are nice (too nice? why are they being so nice?!) in Portland.

Starting Over
"I Moved 3,000 Miles Away—Alone"
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