I left Boston in September of 2011. I left because I felt like I’d done all I could do there, and that Boston had done all that it could for me. It turns out that cities don’t owe their inhabitants shit, and I EASILY could have done a lot more. Like find a job, for example. I probably could have found a job. Back in 2011 I thought that I was brave for moving to a new city where I didn’t know many people and where there were no job prospects for a woman with no experience in the service, medical, or financial industries. I felt like a pioneer moving to a place where there was no subway and no GrubHub.
“I’ll not only make it” I thought as I packed my life into various poorly organized Banker’s boxes “I’ll make something of myself!” I pictured myself as Mary Richards throwing her beret into the welcoming arms of the Minneapolis skyline.
I am not Mary Richards, as it turns out. I’ve spent the last few years trying to justify my reasoning for leaving a place where my life was much, much more stable from a financial standpoint. I looked so good on paper back then: I worked for a well-known internet institution. I co-hosted a weekly trivia night, I showed my art and (pretentious) performance pieces at a local gallery, my extended circle of acquaintances boasted various well-known personalities. I just wasn’t happy. All of that shit had gotten tired, and Boston and I needed to have a clean break.
I was defiant for my first year in Portland. “I made the right choice!” I would proudly declare to anyone who dared to suggest otherwise “I’d do it again!” I’d shout every time an abusive employer yelled at me in front of a customer. “This is the happiest I’ve ever been!” I’d proclaim every time I got rejected for a job I really, really wanted. I wasn’t lying, not exactly. I did make the right choice, and I would totally do it again. It was the happiest I’d ever been. I was making friends, good friends. And I was falling in love.
Time wore on, and those words of defiance started to sound a lot more hollow, and the endless rejection started to weigh on me. I stopped looking so good on paper, or in reality. I stopped spending as much time with my friends. I stopped playing music. I stopped making things. I just stopped in general. I became sour and full of self-doubt, and it cost me.
That just about brings us up to date. So what have I been up to? Well, working weird and constant holiday hours at a local box office mostly. Every weekend brings a new Christmas themed show with a lobby full of happy families holding hands during the matinee, and elderly couples doing the same for the evening performance. In short, it’s a soul crushing nightmare for a recently dumped 31 year old. But I like my co-workers, and one of the promoters gave us a giant block of cheese this week, so I can’t complain.
I’m starting to feel that old defiance creeping back though. I’ve been watching a lot of Buffy The Vampire Slayer when I’m not at work. Fans of the show will be very familiar with the climatic battle at the end of the second season finale “Becoming Part II”. Buffy must fight her former lover, Angel (now Angelus, having lost his soul during a moment of “true happiness” with Buffy on her 17th birthday). He taunts her, and it appears that he has the upper hand until
Angelus: Now that’s everything, huh? No weapons… No friends…No hope. Take all that away… and what’s left?
She then proceeds to hand his ass to him and then Willow’s spell works and Angel’s soul is restored. He becomes the person Buffy fell in love with once again, but she still has to send him to Hell to save the world. You know, pretty much exactly how every bittersweet break-up works.
I’m not Mary Richards, beloved sitcom heroine full of pluck and spunk (I hate spunk). I’m Buffy. I’m flawed, I’m not always everyone’s favorite character, and when shit gets real, I get tougher. No job (pretty soon), no money, no boyfriend… and what’s left?
Sometimes the worst thing we can imagine has to happen in order for us to see the monster we’ve become – and to see all of the good that remains. I made a series of unwise choices that led me to this city of misfit toys. I’ve been struggling ever since. I made the right choice, and I’d do it again.
This is the happiest I’ve ever been.