Where the heart lives

You’ll fall in love with Portland, I keep hoping, or at least the Northwest—let the branchy arms of pine trees wrap around you, the gray roar of the Pacific pull you to its shores. Instead, you speak of Boston, the bustle and cold, the cobblestone streets that make a different sound of footsteps, leading to a different kind of ocean.

I live alone now, in the hills of Southwest Portland, in a studio over someone’s garage—more treehouse than apartment. I have a high, pitched ceiling and a deck far bigger than I need. I never pictured myself here, like this. I’m not sure where I saw myself, but I know it wasn’t here. Not that here is at all a bad thing.

But you don’t talk about Portland. Maybe, you talk about Baltimore. Maybe Tokyo. Maybe Tibet. It doesn’t matter—it isn’t here. Here, where I’ve found my heart buried beneath the moss and loam, dug it out and held it up to watch the light play through it, like the prisms I’ve hung in all my windows. How I need this light.

And yet, I have my moments. When I choke on a bite of salad or drop a butter knife point-down on my toe, I think, No one is here to give me the Heimlich or ensure I don’t bleed to death in the night. But these moments pass. Mostly, I’m surprised by how unafraid I feel, how deeply I sleep, how wildly and vividly I dream.

You don’t say much anymore. You, who’d been made up of composite images in my mind—a hundred different outcomes formed from as many pre-cooked plans. Though I do still wonder what it might look like when “you and I” isn’t just me. I keep hoping I’ll learn not to birth problems that haven’t even been conceived.