Although I have known this for quite some time, it recently dawned on me that it is entirely possible to have a love-hate relationship with a place. It may seem obvious to some; indeed I have subconsciously acted upon it for what must be a good portion of my life, but it is not something you generally vocalize.
The view from the jetty I was sitting on.
I am in my hometown, Portland, for a few weeks until I move back to Melbourne to start work and placement and reintroduce myself to the real world. Yesterday, I was sitting on the pier staring out over the water (this sounds like the beginning to a movie, alas it is not so exciting) and it dawned on me that I do love this place, as much as I have always convinced myself that I hated it. After pondering this for a while I asked myself: “Is that what makes this home?”. The ability to simultaneously love and hate the place I grew up? It is not the only place I have lived, but I don’t feel the same attachment to those places.
It was super windy which created a lot of ripples on the surface.
When I was in the US and contemplating returning back to Australia – I immediately knew that I wanted to come to Portland first. There was no consideration given to returning to Melbourne straight away. Despite everything that has happened here it is still the place I want to be when I need to reset. There is no struggle here; as soon as I return it is like I was never away. Everything fits right back into place. There is a certain rhythm to it and it is comforting to know that if everything falls apart – there is a place I can return to that hasn’t changed entirely. Despite all that, this is not a place I want to live permanently or even return to as a retirement possibility. Perhaps it is more a safety net than anything else? That is still substantial though, still worthwhile.
This is a story.. musing.. thing? I wrote whilst in the US. As the title suggests it is not an entirely fictional summation of my feelings however I have taken artistic liberty and embellished occasionally. These things happen, often it makes for a better read though. As with anything I write; it does not have a title.
You asked me if I was ready and at first I looked to you with only confusion. Ready for what? In my heart I knew; I guess it was the vagueness of your question that led to my realisation. I took my time answering. I know you hate that but condensing every thought and emotion into words is never easy when the appropriate words do not exist. How can you ask me to quantify emotion?
I cannot articulate the turmoil I feel – the combination of relief and anguish that drives me to permanent exhaustion. I have always found emotion unbearable.
You are never satisfied by trivial answers; you demand my honesty and will take no less. Even now I can see you watching me. Anyone else would feel trepidation at the length of my silence but you understand. If not, your façade is welcomingly believable. I can only sigh and look to you with what I can only imagine is a look of utter despair. No. My simple answer leaves you unsatisfied. You mirror my thoughts by asking ‘why’, the question I hate merely for its appropriateness.
I do not know what I can say that will express what I feel. That in itself is not unusual. Words are never enough. I search for a way to be concise although brevity is not what you want. You will make me explain myself despite knowing the difficulty it causes. Give me a moment, I need time to think. You are temporarily sated but you watch me, fixated, allowing no escape.
The easy answer is that by integrating myself so thoroughly; leaving everything behind will be painful. That answer does not incorporate everything though. It ignores the fear I have – of going home, having to re-establish myself there with the knowledge of how much I have changed, having to commit to a routine that I cannot currently fathom.
I fell in love. Not with a person or place, but with a feeling. The limitation of my language constrains me. I use love for the lack of a more appropriate term. I am unfamiliar with passion – be it love, fear or hatred. The fluctuations of emotion I experience here can only be explained by passion. It is such an alternative to my usual apathy that the thought of its loss is devastating to me. I do not want to lose who I am. The desire to articulate this is overwhelming but I fear that you will be unable to understand.
Who was I then compared to who I am now? It seems like such a time ago.
The reality is that I will miss this place when I am gone. I will miss the people, the scenery, the community and the lifestyle. I am afraid that this will become nothing but fodder for nostalgia. I could be content with that, although not happy with normalcy.
You have grown weary of my musings. The silence has prolonged and although it is not yet uncomfortable; my time is up. I look at you again: what I have become here is not who I was before and I am not ready to lose that. Passion has enlightened me to a greater desire for knowledge and emotion. I am afraid of the certainty of my future, for the trap I face is avoidable but deceivingly easy to be consumed by. I fear the inevitability of forgetting and being forgotten. I have found meaning in relationships that I previously could not comprehend, will replicating that elsewhere be as satisfying?
I am rambling, I always do when I justify myself to you, although you are accustomed to that by now. I want to provide the answer you desire; that which will lead to absolute comprehension. I am not ready, I say, because everything I have learnt is trivial. I have glimpsed a potential for greater meaning but I am not yet close enough to achieve it. I am not ready; and I am terrible at goodbye.
So as it turns out – I am appalling at keeping any semblance of a consistent blog. I would apologise but realistically, that just means I am having too good a time to write about. This is more or less the truth (we’ll go with more because it implies I’m the king of good times). Although it has been many (many) months since my last post I am still not going to update you on everything I’ve been doing. There are two reasons for this:
1. Mostly it has been a lot of drinking. There are only so many stories you can tell about drinking before your audience becomes hazy-eyed and starts musing about the wonders of water. (Been there, done that).
2. My general ability to tell riveting stories is somewhat underwhelming. I often have to inform people that my story has ended. I don’t want to put your through that.
Honestly, there is no purpose to this post which pretty much means that it could digress into anything. The risk is what makes it exciting. I might start reciting poetry soon. You really never know. I have decided that when I finally get home, this will be more of a once-in-a-while storytelling blog rather than a ‘here are the mundane goings on of my life’ blog. It is a giant cop-out on my part seeing as it confirms my inability to commit to anything for a long period of time but that is ok, life goes on.
I never quite understood the people that felt the need to inform the world (or even just their friends) of everything they did in a day. So you had a sandwich? Awesome. I don’t want to see a photo of it though. In saying that; I did actually have a delicious sandwich today: avocado, lettuce, sprouts and ham. That bad boy was so good. Unfortunately (and I know you’re all torn up over this one) I didn’t manage to get a photo of it. Some things just don’t stick around quick enough.
This leads me onto another thing that I have discovered I’m terrible at: taking photos. I was in New York for almost a full week over Thanksgiving break and took zero photos. For my part; I’m ok with this because it means I was having too much fun to be bothered to take photos but it leads me to realise that I have taken very few since I’ve been here. While I recognise and enjoy looking at a good photo, I don’t believe it replaces the feeling of experiencing a moment. Indeed, it often has the disillusioning effect of making something disappointing in ‘real life’. Photos can be edited; people want you to think the photo they took is the most exciting thing ever. Therefore, people edit photos. I tell you, it was a real shocker to me when I realised Time Square was not naturally Sepia toned. Quite the eye-opener.
On that note; I will leave you to ponder these thoughts because I honestly have no more to say. Peace out.