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The Odious Ode

"You have to use fantasy to show different sides to reality.

That's how it can bend." - Jimi Hendrix



When I was a young girl, I saw your name on the East Side of town and my mind was aroused with such wonder. Time and again, I asked my family about you, but you seemed unreasonably distant, deflating any hope that we would someday meet. My family would occasionally venture up north, and whenever we made that trip, I had fantasies of seeing you. But we just never drove quite far enough to get there. It would be years that you remained mysterious to me, and it was remarkable that over such a long period of time, my interest never once waned. Other friends and family would eventually make the journey to visit you – some would even go there to live with you and never come back. My mind would wander off to a recurring daydream believing someday I would be with you as well. I had such a schoolgirl crush, and whenever I’d see your name, I’d gush on and on about you, to a degree that my family thought I was crazy and obsessed. Everyone that I knew believed it to be no more than a young girl’s fantasy and how it too would pass, eventually. However, this young girl grew into a woman, and years later, had found herself finding you with the utmost excitement and wonder. This long-time infatuation was now within my grasp, and I was determined to make it happen, whatever the cost. I fell in love with your beauty in the daylight, with every dirty crack and all of the wrinkles visible, as well as in the darkness, under the bright city lights where everything appeared much more sexy and alluring. It was still so fresh and new at this point, you graciously welcomed me with open arms, gave me money, packed me up, and moved me right into your world. You introduced me to wonderful new experiences, lifelong friends, memories that I’ll always cherish, and for that, I am so very grateful. I’ve had countless other lovers like this before, the fantasy that comes with the newness, the sweet exploration, learning about all of the wondrous discoveries, and the well-guarded dirty little secrets, with the inevitable bitterness... and eventually the longing over what could have been. The good times lasted for several years, as we got more comfortable with each other. Inevitably, there were difficult times, as with all circumstances in life, nothing is perfect or easy all of the time. But I believed in you, and I thought you believed in me too, but maybe I was wrong. Perhaps I grew tired of the uncertainty of not really knowing if you loved me back. What the hell happened to you? You have become a caricature of yourself! I mean, it was almost quaint in the beginning, everyone kept fawning over you, day and night, and they just could not get enough of you. People were coming from every corner of the world once they heard about you, your reputation was notorious. Strangers would come to visit, and as if that wasn’t annoying enough, many of them would choose to stay for long periods of time, or outright make themselves at home indefinitely. By all accounts, after twenty long years, this fantasy has come to a conclusion. Enough is enough, old friend, this relationship is severely tarnished, and I just cannot make this work any longer. It’s too much for one to handle, let alone the swarms of newcomers who must have a go at you with the promise and allure of a free ride, or rumors of less than they are used to. You can’t give a home to everyone that stumbles upon your doorstep, and let’s face it, you don’t even want to, so what happens? They camp out on the streets. You certainly can’t feed everybody, just because they are hungry and have traveled far. Your children are hungry and left without shelter, and do you care? You make it unbelievably easy for any of them to acquire drugs, young and old. They do so because it will take away the pain of their scars from feeling so rejected by you. You even took away my son at such a difficult time, and made it so easy for him to access any self-medicating option available, from the doctors to the streets... to his death. And because of that, I am broken, and will never recover from his loss, yet I have remained here. Why on earth have I continued to stay here, in this god forsaken place for so many years? I once believed you were more compassionate, but honestly, you are not kind at all. It’s not just me, but countless others have suffered such great loss merely from being in your obfuscated presence. While every crack and wrinkle once held such character and charm, I cannot say I have the same feelings today. Those feelings are long gone and will never return. Nevertheless, every single day brings new strangers to our door, new life, and new death. For this reason, you have made it utterly impossible for me to hold on to a thread of the desire I once held so dear to my heart for you. I can no longer say that I love you, because I know you now, more intimately than I ever thought possible. I hate to say it, but the truth is that my friends and family never really liked you when they came to visit. They all told me that you were far too temperamental and had no logical understanding of how I could possibly love you. After all I have endured, there is no logical answer as to why would I put up with you for so many years. In recent times, you’ve made it even more unimaginable to stay. Once I was ready to be brutally honest with myself, I was absolutely prepared to make an eloquent departure with no turning back. You won’t discover that I had secretly slipped away like a thief in the night, I have far more dignity than that. I walked away confidently, with the light of the sun shining down on me in all of its glory, traveling toward blue skies ahead of me, continuing my journey away from you. This is my ode to the city, I’ve had enough. Goodbye Portland!

I first wrote this over two years ago, but obviously it was a long time coming and still holds up in current times. What are your thoughts? Let me know liz@goalreaper.com

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