I Escaped To Portland And It Only Made Me Miss You

Blending into the forest, nature, camping, solitude, solo adventures, thinking, reflecting, one with the trees of the forest
Tyler Rayburn

I thought about texting you last Thursday. I had flowers delivered to me from a No Name. They were beautiful. Dark. Black orchids. There will never be anyone like you, the card read. Maybe it was far-fetched but I wondered if it could be you.

I thought about texting you before then. I’ve actually thought about it more than once.

I’ve been looking for jobs in other cities. As close as Austin, as far as Denver, Seattle and Portland. I just need to get out of here, you know?

Houston’s just so suffocating, and I don’t just mean the humidity and this batshit weather. Everyone I know and want to get away from is here. I was born here. I had a thief take what wasn’t his here; I learned to keep my first secret from my mother here. I had my first heartbreak here. I tried to take the sad girl inside me and cut her out bit by bit here. I’ve played hide (and not seek) in the bathtub here. I’ve had all the gin and tonics in every bar here. I’ve felt too surrounded by so many people and I’ve felt so alone here. I’ve loved here. I’ve lost here. I’ve felt the sky collapse on me here. I became hardened here.

And I didn’t want to admit as much to myself – but you’re here.

I took a flight out to Portland not too long ago. I left. For three short, but very much needed, days. I didn’t tell anybody (somehow it felt so liberating.) I just needed some distance from here. I just needed some air. The moment that airplane took off I felt like I could breathe again. I spent that evening exploring everything there was to that city. I walked and walked with really no aim. It was one of the most soothing of things.

I walked into some craft cocktail bar alone. You’d think it would have made me sad but I was breathing, I was breathing. I sat at the bar, wondering if this is how it would always be. Walking into places alone. Sitting alone. Right now it was nice, but one is only young for so long. Would there come a time I needed to feel the warm presence of someone else beside me again? The bartender flashed me one of the most beautiful of grins and I dismissed the thought.

I didn’t know what to order. I told him to make me whatever people like here. He said, You don’t look like most people. His comment, and the light coming from the corners of his mouth reminded me too much of you. He passed me the most heavenly of drinks, I still am not sure what was in it. It was something thymey, something infused with lavender, something not sour but not really sweet. I asked him for the name and he told me it wasn’t on the menu. I flirted for 5 drinks with him. It had been so long since I had done something like that. It had been so long since I felt how I felt, since I acted seductively, since I held a conversation with a stranger, since I had confidence, since I charmed a man. When I asked for the check he winked, placed a pen and napkin in front of me and told me to just leave my number.

I had gotten so lost in the evening, in the aromatic drinks, in the fact that I was somewhere else, I was reminded what it felt like to not feel like there was a boulder shifting from shoulder to shoulder.

Here I could be anybody I wanted to be. I’ve always wanted to be happy.

The next morning I did more walking. I brunched alone and got sympathetic looks from a group of girls. I thought about my girlfriends. I love them so much. They’re my family. But I could be with them, hell, with a hundred other people, and somehow I still feel alone. The thought made me miss you. I didn’t feel that way with you. The moments I had with you, however short they may have been, were about the only moments in my life that I didn’t feel lonely, that I didn’t feel empty. Here I was, trying to temporarily escape my life, and it was bringing me right to thoughts of you, to some of the very thoughts I was running away from. I decided it was time for a blaze, but even that made me think of you.

That night I didn’t leave my Airbnb. I poured a glass of wine, lit a pre-roll, and immersed myself in Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

“She could only wait, wait and moan in spirit and she felt him withdrawing, withdrawing and contracting, coming to the terrible moment when he would slip out of her and be gone. Whilst all her womb was open and soft, and softly clamouring, like a sea anemone under the tide, clamouring for him to come in again and make fulfillment for her. She clung to him unconscious in passion, and he never quite slipped from her, and she felt the soft bud of him within her stirring, and strange rhythms flushing up into her with a strange rhythmic growing motion, swelling and swelling til it filled all her cleaving consciousness, and then began again the unspeakable motion that was not really motion, but pure deepening whirlpools of sensation swirling deeper and deeper through all her tissue and consciousness, til she was one perfect concentric fluid of feeling, and she lay there crying in unconscious inarticulate cries.”

And there you weren’t. There, I wanted you, needed you to come fill all the places you had before. I missed you. But you only ever came to leave.

You said you loved me and missed me yesterday, today and tomorrow, but I was a door you’d walk through as you pleased, an empty motel room you set heavy eyes on, and someone else shared your house key, you had a home in someone else’s bed.

Here I was, in a city I should be exploring, reading, crying because you’ll never touch me again, because there’s a cavity that is you in that place where my heart should be, because I couldn’t even leave a dent in yours. Because I shouldn’t have ever felt anything for you, but I did. I closed the book and poured my umpteenth glass of wine, lit another joint, and told myself that maybe like in the book, I only loved you with the element of the body. Maybe that raw passion arose from the kind of heightened orgasms only you had given me. Maybe I only loved you because you made me feel alive. Maybe you only ever made me feel alive with your touch.

Maybe I just needed to feel that same kind of unfiltered, elevated intensity with someone else’s skin on mine. Maybe that’s all it would take to forget I ever felt anything for you. Maybe I just needed a synonymous passion.

The next night I went out trying to see if I could find him. It wouldn’t be the first time I tried to test that theory. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Houston-based writer and artist.

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