The Break-Up Letter

Dear Tucson,

You’re probably wondering why I didn’t say goodbye.

You’re probably upset, and I understand how you would feel that way.

If you step back from your raw emotion, however, I think that you’ll start to see the rivets in our lives that led us here.

We weren’t happy, Tucson. Not together. I know you can point to moments here and there—switchbacks in Sabino Canyon up to the most magnificent high desert vistas I’ll ever see, and the Bisbee chile relleno that brought a tear to my eye, and your adorable pack of lizards popping by to say hello and do a few push-up reps. You bought me a big(ger), beautiful house with turquoise cabinets and the patio of my dreams. I will remember such things forever, and when people ask me if there’s anything I miss about you, my answer will not be “no.”

I know that the simple answer to why I couldn’t love you will be your flare-ups. How you get so hot, I can’t breathe. But even though I can’t stand it when you’re like that, the truth is, you don’t just stifle the air. You stifle me. My community isn’t here. I miss the writers, the coffee, the farmland crushing right up against the metropolis wedged between the ocean and the mountains. I may have found a rhythm to live life with you, but I never actually had a place.

There is a lot of good in you, Tucson. Really. I know that there is. But it’s not the kind of good that’s for me. You know who has always had my heart. And I don’t care how many articles in Sunset or HuffPo try to prove otherwise, you’ll never be Portland.

All that being said, you need to know that Portland and I didn’t plan this. There wasn’t some secret plot to spirit away my life on what was supposed to only be a week’s trip up to the Tin House Writer’s Workshop. I know I told you that I’d just go and come back, and we’d continue to work on things between us. Then I was on my way out the door to the airport, and Portland called with my dream job offer, and—well, one thing led to another, and here I am, and there you are. I’m not coming back, Tucson. Someone will be coming for my things. You may have noticed they are already packed.

Don’t apologize, Tucson. Yes, we did have that lovely weekend in Sedona and Flagstaff. A weekend here in there of discovery and bliss can’t fix a daily grind of unfulfillment. And yes, I am disappointed that we didn’t get one last hike in, and that I left without one last ceremonial taco. I have to live with this knowledge.

You may not have turned out to be what I wanted for my life, but you will always be part of that life. Please try to remember that.


Tabitha Blankenbiller

P.S. I left some delicious plantain chips in the drawer. Don’t let them go to waste.

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