A Case of Chronic Unbelonging


Spring came, and with it came an overwhelming feeling of unbelonging. I can hardly recall a time I've ever felt like I was where I was supposed to be. Growing up in my hometown, I felt like I truly belonged in the city. I moved to the New York metro area, and I felt like I was more suited for life back home. I moved back home and decided that I'd be better off living anywhere else. And then I moved to Portland. I spent the first few months simply adjusting to having a life of my own, but once the dust settled, it hit me all at once. I started to have doubts. I started to believe that Portland wasn't the place for me. When my roommate suggested a two day road trip to Seattle, I immediately agreed because in my mind, there's nothing better than a good road trip. But there was an inkling of hope in the back of my mind that maybe, just maybe, this little adventure was just the thing I needed to ease my doubt. So, I packed up my things on a Sunday evening and we ventured north early the next morning.

I love visiting new cities. There's something thrilling about being able to blend in and become little more than a face in an unfamiliar crowd. I can be invisible. I can explore and experience everything around me and do so without the feeling of being seen. For this reason, I spent the entire drive trying to contain my excitement. I'd never been to Seattle before. In fact, I'd never even crossed the Washington state line before this adventure. When we reached Seattle, the sun was shining and we immediately set out to see everything we could before the sun disappeared behind the skyline. The first day was filled with hope and optimism and adventure. I ran around the top of the Space Needle and I played like a child at one of the most dangerous playgrounds I've ever been on. I smelled the flowers and I smiled and laughed under the spring sun and my heart felt full. On the second day, however, a potent wave of melancholy washed over me and it filled me with uncertainty.

Any doubts I was having about Portland were suddenly amplified because being in Seattle made me feel like I didn't belong in the city I'd spent the previous six months trying to make a home in. I felt like Portland wasn't "city enough" for me. I thought it was too laid back for me. For a short while, I started to romanticize New York City in the way I used to when I was fifteen and wanted nothing more than to be invisible. That second day, we explored some more and while wandering up the Seattle streets, I could think of little more than my nostalgia for the hustle and bustle of the city. While I do live in a city, it's the kind of city that doesn't have that hurried feel that I tend to yearn for. When we decided to make our way back south, I experienced that wave of disappointment that comes when an adventure ends before you're ready for it to. Luckily, Seattle isn't going anywhere and I left that city behind with the comfort of knowing that I can always return.