Just Right

I’m 23 years old, and I can honestly say this is my first time falling in love with a place.

I’ve fallen for a boy, before. He kissed my cheek when he thought I was sound asleep.

I’ve fallen for a thick slice of carrot cake, on more than one occasion. Served cold, sans raisins. With a substantial smear of cream cheese frosting tugged across the top.

I’ve fallen for many a hardcover book. (Why can’t you be a paperback.) I’ve fallen for passages in those books. For inscriptions in the front, for bios in the back.

I’ve fallen for a friend, too. Multiple times. (This generally ends 1 of 2 ways. I’m 0 for 3, if that gives you an idea. Maybe you have a better track record?)

Does it go without saying that I’ve also fallen for pretty much anything involving butter, sugar, and salt? I think it does. Butter, sugar, and salt. That’s the opposite of what rejection tastes like. If you ask me.

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And I’ve fallen for other things, too. The way a duck’s feet paddle furiously underneath the surface, but you’d never know it. The way it feels when you make eye contact with someone new and (potentially) wonderful. The way the light looks, in the morning, when it sneaks through the slats and splashes across something old, something new.


And more, still: the way an upside down cake turns out, when it slips out of the skillet, all syrupy and sweet. (You hope.) The way you can surprise yourself, sometimes. The way you can make something incredibly pretty, and feel a little brighter, a little better, as soon as you eat it.

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I am easily infatuated, I guess you could say. But not by places. Places have always been the exception. I’ve felt out of place, for one reason or another, in almost every place I’ve ever been. In Milton, where I grew up most of the way. In Maine, where my parents went to try again. In Geneva, where I went to college. In NYC — oh god, in NYC — where I went to grow up the rest of the way. Or try. Try my hardest.

But in Portland? Why, I feel like Goldilocks, tucking into her perfect porridge. It feels just right.

(Yes…even when it feels so Portland it hurts.)

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This city just feels tailor made for me. Even when another job opportunity falls through, and my hopes are dashed. Even when another group of girls walks by, with their arms linked, and I feel a little pang.

I feel so sure I can do this. I will find a job, even if it’s not the kind I’d ever announce on Facebook. And I will make a friend. Even if she doesn’t turn out to be a best friend.

That’s how I feel in this particular moment, mind you. In this particular moment, it feels really good to have made a start. I’ve unpacked my room, I’ve joined a gym, I’ve been interviewed, I’ve gotten a doctor, I’ve written in a coffee shop. And, most importantly: I’ve found 3489834 bakeries.

And, and, and! I’ve found a chocolate café. Which happens to be hiring! Would you buy a truffle from me? Say yes, I need the confidence boost. I’d wrap it up in a beautiful box, even if it were just for you, to eat on your way home.

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Meyer Lemon, Orange, Peanut Butter Cream Cone, Sea Salt Vanilla Caramel Milk Chocolate — what do you think? I think I could help turn your day around, with any one of those.

I have to admit, half of me wants to open my own place like that. A place full of with things to cheer people up. What do you think? I have no idea what I think. Except that maybe I shouldn’t be working so hard to stifle that particular voice.


I should shush the other ones, maybe. The one that says the average truffle has 75 calories. And the one that insists I did not pay $200,000 to go to college and stay in every weekend to plow through the semester’s syllabus in order to bag groceries full-time. And the one that worries I am never going to meet anyone. Because I am not small enough, or smart enough, or successful enough, or special enough. 

Let’s just…turn those ones down, and turn this one up:

“We’re all sinking in the same boat here. We’re all bored and desperate and waiting for something to happen. Waiting for life to get better. Waiting for things to change. Waiting for that one person to finally notice us. We’re all waiting. But we also need to realize that we all have the power to make those changes for ourselves.” -Susane Colasanti, Waiting for You


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