I’m a huge Sara Bareilles fan. One of my favorite songs is “Manhattan” which has the singer relinquishing the New York hub to an ex.
You can have Manhattan,
I know it's what you want.
The bustle and the buildings,
The weather in the fall.
And I'll bow out of place
To save you some space
For somebody new.
You can have Manhattan
'Cause I can't have you.
It’s a beautiful, melancholy song. A place with millions of people just isn’t big enough for the both of them.
For me, I’ve flirted with giving up an entire state. Oregon. After two and a half years of online contact and dating, my relationship with a Portland guy ended seven months ago. No more quick weekend flights. No more meeting halfway in Seattle. Just no more.
It doesn’t matter that I’m the one who ended things. The sting of failure still lingers. I suppose there’s a good chance that will last until a new relationship comes along to offer renewed hope and to show that maybe I am capable of negotiating through the good and the bad.
Why couldn’t it have been another state? I’m sure I could live the rest of my life with no effort at all in avoiding Boise or, god forbid, a smaller outpost. Yeah, you can have Idaho.
The thing is, I really like Oregon. I’ve been going to Portland and the Oregon Coast for years. I’ve gone to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland a number of times. I’ve long felt that the state is a gem overshadowed by its neighbor to the south. I have no intention of surrendering the state to an ex.
But what I think doesn’t always jive with what I feel. This past weekend, I booked an impromptu trip to Newport on the Coast. I emailed me ex to say I’d be swinging through Portland, offering a chance to grab a meal or ice cream. I figured it would be a nice way to reconnect as friends—or something—, a way to move past failure. I like keeping people I’ve valued in my life.
He never responded.
It doesn’t come as a complete surprise, but it’s disappointing. In hindsight, it would have been better not to reach out at all. The silence did not surprise me, but still it came as a jolt and stuck with me during the entire trip. Suddenly Portland felt more like his town. When I went to my favorite spots—places I went to with him but had discovered before him—I struggled in my mind to take them back as my spots. Same with the hotel I stayed at in Newport. It’s my favorite spot. Yes, we stayed there together once, but I’ve been there many times. The visit was tainted. It wasn’t a full-on grieving; it just felt uncomfortable.
I don’t want to avoid Oregon. I don’t want to avoid the places I like. If we can’t meet to redefine our connection, then I am left to redefine my relationship with these places. I need to take them back. I need to create new memories. To be sure, I made progress. My time of the Coast was highlighted by a bike ride that allowed me to get better glimpses of the views. I kept stopping to take in the gorgeous shoreline and to stare out at the endless Pacific. Remarkably, I spotted whales at each and every stop. Absolutely glorious! I felt utter serenity. For three hours, it was just the sea and me.
I’m headed back in a month, visiting Portland for five days with a friend. He’s got a conference so I’ll have plenty of time to revisit my favorite jogging routes, to get lost at Powell’s Books, to overindulge at Blue Star Donuts and to find new cafés for writing. I’ll also have the opportunity to find a balance between memories of us and memories of my own.
As much as I love Sara Bareilles, I have no intention of surrendering a place to an ex.