People in love do crazy things. Masimbaashe Zvovushe up and left her life, all for the sake of love.
I had never seen Cory cry before, not in the six years we had been together. We had just finished dinner at Applebee's. Standing in a vacant parking lot, basking in the glow of the street lamps, he was asking me to leave behind everything I knew, with the exception of him. All of my family and friends.
He wanted more. I was too high to imagine what more might actually look like; a million thoughts raced through my mind as I watched his eyes well up with tears. He promised he wouldn't leave without me if I decided I wasn't ready to leave. But I could see that he needed to get out of Connecticut, where I had spent my entire life. On the other hand, Cory had moved a bunch of times and had very little sentimental attachment to the place where he had spent the last decade. The other options seemed impossible: We could break up, or get into a cross-country relationship. Neither of us was ready to do that.
Everyone says: Never move for a man. It didn't help that I had never lived outside of Connecticut, with the exception of one summer spent in the Bronx. Even that was just a quick train ride from home. When pondering the move, I couldn't stop Googling about Portland, Oregon; I knew that any additional information could make it easier for me to find an excuse not to go. In hindsight, I probably should've done even more research before uprooting my life.
But people in love do crazy things. I decided to go anyway. The move made for a good bargaining chip toward an engagement ring, I figured. We packed everything up and uprooted to Portland.
Everything you hear about Portland is true: The food is so fresh that my first time in a produce aisle literally left me in awe. And everyone who lives in Portland is obsessed with nature, so I've tried to embrace the trees and stuff.
It's everything you don't hear about Portland that makes me hate it here. A little more research may have shown me that Portland is the whitest large city in the country. According to 2016 census data, Portland, a city of about 640,000 people, is 76 percent white and just six percent black.
While living here, I've discovered that the "Keep Portland Weird" ethos is reserved for white people, as are many other aspects of the city. The facade of pseudo-liberalism here causes some people to deny just how racist this city can feel. I experience microaggressions on a daily basis here. Sometimes, as in the fatal stabbing on a light-rail train last month, the aggression is not so micro. And yes, this may seem like a minor complaint comparatively, but it also rains all the time.
Most important, though, I feel invisible here. While my husband, who is white, continues to build a home here, I don't think I'll ever feel at home in Portland.
I often wonder whether I have given Portland a fair chance. Connecticut is the only home I've ever known, and this place isn't that. But when people ask me why I stay, I tell them it's because of Cory. He understands that things have not been easy for me here. We continue to weigh our options on where to go next since he refuses to go back to Connecticut. And although I will forever be uncomfortable in Portland, I also understand that I could encounter racism anywhere, so moving may not be a magic pill.
I understand what it is about this place that makes my husband so happy, so to some extent, I am able to disregard the isolating feelings that arise from living here. And while Connecticut will always be the place I love to call home, after living in Portland for three years, it has started to get a little easier.
In the end, it doesn't matter to me where we end up - as long as we get there together.