She was everything I wanted, from the cool bohemian attitude with a sprinkling of urban hipster to the sparkling green that sheathed her ample curves. We seemed the perfect couple. Politics, religion, women's rights, environmentalism — on every major issue our ideals matched seamlessly.
I imagined long walks on the shore, endless hours of shoe shopping in quirky vintage boutiques and nights listening to jazz under a clear, starry sky. So, in March 2007, I came out to my friends and family about my new infatuation and moved 1,300 miles to be with my beloved Portland. She was my geographical soulmate, at least according to www.findyourspot.com, a matchmaking site that paired us up based on my living preferences. Location may not be the key to happiness, but considering that more Phoenicians are happy with their city than with their spouses, it's definitely a factor.
At first it was sunshine-laden ecstasy, until problems surfaced and we began to subconsciously reject each other. The fact that Oregon officials outlawed self-serve gasoline to help mitigate the staggering unemployment rate should've clued me in, but I didn't realize that finding a decent job in Portland would be like prowling for a hot guy at Luby's Cafeteria: laughable, pathetic, and doomed from the start.
Read the rest of Summer Guide 2008.
I eventually settled on a cushy job with good pay, and a soul-sucking corporate culture that took me from freewheeling freelancer to corporate bitch faster than you can say "Willamette." Granted, the bennies were fabulous and my co-workers über-supportive, but as I gaze into the mirror at my new love handles and cottage cheese thighs (which truthfully are leftover corporate meeting cheesecake thighs) I'm thinking it was a bad tradeoff.
And there were other little things that bothered me about Portland. My compassionate exterior wore thin after being harassed for change everywhere I went. Sidewalk cafes. Bookstores. My gynecologist's office. Not that I'm unmoved by the needs of the homeless, but when the guy panhandling in the Lloyd Center Mall food court is wearing Marc Jacobs and carrying an iPod I can't afford, I get a bit miffed. And driving through hailstorms in fucking April — don't even get me started on that one.
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So after tiring of the dreadful depression brought on by six solid months of Vitamin D deprivation, I made the choice to return to my former lover. She's warm, comforting, and filled with the joy and laughter of true friends and family. Job opportunities are plentiful and you can score a killer historic home for less than 10 years' salary. Everyone I knew was shocked by my decision to leave Portland, but the truth is that the most desirable location on paper (or in this case, a computer screen) isn't necessarily my idea of bliss.
While driving down I-10 on a recent Phoenix vacation, my sister declared, "I own this place." While I may not share her zeal for Arizona's sprawling brown landscape and dusty post-rain smell, I understand exactly how she feels. I know Phoenix, and she knows me. I can be myself there, without pretending to understand mind-numbing foreign films, veganism, unkempt dreadlocks, and thrift shops that sell tacky soiled furniture for more than it cost to buy new.
This Pisces gal may still be a fish out of water when it comes to living in the Sonoran Desert, but I'm hoping she's willing to take me back into her arms for a while.
So . . . hello, lover! I'm coming home.