Next Time

Two things I have decided: it takes a long time to get to know a person, and it takes a long time to get to know a place.

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I wonder about which places you’ve come to know. Could you make me a list? If you wind up having some room, at the bottom, I’d also love to know how many people you’d say have known you in all of your places. In all of your phases.

Why does that feel so critical? And critical to what, exactly? I have no idea. But that’s what I wish for, when I hike up here and make my now-customary stop to look out over the city still asleep.

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I’ve made good time. The summer sky has barely begun its slow burn. I can’t see it ever getting old — this whole business of being able to wake up and watch the mountains warm up. Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier. Navy, purple, pink.

I’m beginning to feel attached to parts of Portland. To the Pacific Northwest at large — definitely.

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Surprisingly, I don’t feel half as attached to the place I grew up. It feels like a lifetime ago that I lived in the house on the hill in Milton, Massachusetts. Milton feels like an exit I know on a highway I’d now only be vaguely familiar with.

I’m infinitely more nostalgic for other exits on the east coast. The big green sign that hangs overhead on I-95 in Maine for West Falmouth. The mostly intuitive turn off of the “stick road” that paves the way to Wellfleet in Cape Cod. The lone rectangle over to the right on the New York State Thruway that reads, simply: Geneva, NY.

I miss NYC too, but not in a way that makes me want to go back. NYC was never about place for me — it was about people. There are people I miss in NYC.

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There are days when I feel like I would give anything to stumble and slip along Maine’s craggy coast again. Moments when I just want to sit for an hour and sift soft sand through my toes. Moments when I feel like all I want in the world is to look up and see that lighthouse I’ve photographed a thousand times.

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And then the floodgates open: I long for all of it. For so many things. How can a person long for so much?

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I long for my family happy and whole and healthy. I long for friends I was only able to get close to after the fact, after I’d moved away. Friends I can only text and email now.

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I long for the kind of relationship I’m convinced I won’t ever have again. Or know I really can’t have, not while you are not thin therefore you are not attractive therefore no one will ever love you is still the reigning refrain.

And so we take baby steps. We make this place feel like one of our places. We take the pressure off and try to worry a little less about what’s permanent and what’s not.

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We smile at people on the street. We direct-message people on Instagram we want to meet. We make plans and we don’t cancel even though the introvert in us desperately (desperately!) wants to.

We try, for the 500th time, to have some more confidence in ourselves. More, more, more. We hang tight onto every moment we feel so seriously lovely on the inside. We keep working on that cavern called SELF-LOVE DEFICIT — that place so big in my chest I could take you there and show you around. We aim to show you six places the walls are caving in, next time.

{“HI” tile via @swellmayde, Portland sunrise via @justin.watts, foggy PNW road via @robstrok, Portland Head Light via @alexakenyarae, little house dream #57 via @robstrok, Mt. Hood National Forest starry night via @nicholaspeterwilson, Toketee Falls via @zmorgy — all on Instagram.}

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4 thoughts on “Next Time

    • Never have I ever wanted a car more than right now! Even if we can’t make it work this time it’ll be so nice knowing you’re close by. We really should make plans for a real visit! Anyway I can’t wait to hear what you think of the PNW and see all of the photos that come out of your trip. Your photography gets more gorgeous every day. (Sometimes I look at your Instagram and I think I know her!!)

  1. Hey Hannah. It’s the first time I’ve gotten here and it won’t be my last. I love what you’ve done. I’m glad we connected when you were thinking about a move to New Orleans.

    • Aww hey Will. This was so nice to come home to. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you’ll let me know if a stint in the Pacific Northwest ever ends up in your future plans!

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