"I Moved 3,000 Miles Away—Alone"
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.
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