The Place That Got Away

Sometimes in relationships, it’s relatively easy. It doesn’t feel easy at the time, but looking back gives a new perspective. When a good relationship ends for reasons other than because it became a bad relationship, we have the consolation that it was, at least, a good relationship. And if the relationship was so good that even not being in it doesn’t make you emotionally available enough to date other people, at least you can be single. You can choose to be alone with the memory of a good relationship, until you’re ready for another go in the Octagon of Dating.

Moving though… that’s a tricky one. I have lived in six cities, which is higher than the average number of people an American woman has slept with. Given that I’ve probably spent more time with these places than most people spend in relationships, moving is both natural and unnatural. I do it a lot, every few years or so, but I carry a lot of nostalgia for every place I’ve been. I’ve lived in most regions of the U.S.: the East Coast, Alaska, the Midwest, and now the West Coast. I also just spent a year in London. Each place I’ve lived has been a good fit in some ways, and not in others.

London was a prime example. There are things I love about London: the English sensibility, the public transportation, the surprising amount of sunshine, and the undefinable depth of history in the city. There were things that I didn’t love: losing a major portion of my deposit to the crookery that is the property rental scheme, getting run into on the street, paying one point six times more for nearly everything… But leaving London, it was the worst ‘break-up’ yet.

Leaving London meant going somewhere. It meant finding somewhere new that would naturally be compared. That’s why I picked Seattle: the weather is similar at least, and the ecosystem reminds me of growing up in Alaska. But, what I really wanted was to have some time off. I want to mourn the end of my relationship with the city I fell in love with. If I could just not live anywhere for a while, just ‘be single’ from a city, that would be great.

I don’t mean sleeping on couches. I’m not even sure the International Spaceship is enough of a ‘non-place’ to feel separation and not want to compare where I am to where I was. I don’t really think I’m stuck in the past any more than I have been known to be when a really great boyfriend just doesn’t work out. But, it would be nice for time off. In dating we can learn to take that space, to sit with the bittersweet nostalgia of the person who we realize makes all those sappy love songs about ‘the one that got away’ true. Moving from the city where you left your heart is a lot harder. Seattle has a lot to live up to.


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