Wednesday, July 15, 2009

It's not Portland's fault, though she's not exactly helping, either.

I'm guessing it's not Portland's fault. I mean, she trotted out her finest allergens, her strongest sun. She put on her cutest dress and finest perfume, and well, I'm just not feeling it. Too squee, too perfect, too many smiling happy people drinking coffee and loving life and showing off their tattoos on bony shoulders and legs bared to the sunshiny day we've all been provided.

Maybe it's because it feels like Mr. Roger's neighborhood, or because everyone wants to talk to me, about my burrito, my coffee, because they step out of the frame when I'm taking pictures, or because Seattle felt so strangely homey to me and Portland is just decidedly not Seattle.

It certainly wasn't waking up on the wrong side of the couch or catching up with old friends or the fabulous southern-style meal I had last night at The Screen Door or either of the two editors I have either seen or will see by the time today it's over, nor is it the awesome berries or the great cups of coffee, or that they offered me non-dairy “sour cream” on my burrito that I got in Pioneer Courthouse Square at lunchtime today, partway through my megawalk from Hawthorne into upper NW, where I currently am.

Something about Portland that you may or may not know is the fact that I lived here before. A very long time ago. Which is funny, because it's faded to this weird stain on my memory where I don't really get the feeling of the city, but at the same time, half the restaurants I pass are places I've eaten. An Indian place here, a burrito place there, Jarra's Ethiopian, endless coffee shops, the Brasserie Montmarte, where I went with my high school prom date's parents when they came to visit, Jake's Famous Crawfish, where we went when my family was here visiting me, and they made me a vegan feast when I was going through that phase.

And an unnoteworthy Thai restaurant that popped up out of nowhere this morning on my walk, and bit me in the subconscious reminding me of why I woke up strangely on my last morning in Seattle. I planned this trip to Portland without thinking about my ex, with whom I used to live here. And 99% of the time, that is a blip on my memory screen, but I've been retelling the story to old friends lately, and feeling sensitive, five-plus years out. And Portland is gorgeous, stunning, adorable, perfect, bicycle-embracing, quirky and perfect. And I'm happy to be here for two days, and I will be just as happy to get on that 17-hour train trip and get the hell out of here.

Three years was enough. Pictures to follow, I hope.


Anonymous said...

At least go to Powells, on your mammoth walk from Hawthorne to NW.
...sigh...and post those pics! I still consider Ptld "home" in many ways and this post makes me "homesick" in the good way. We lived on Quimby just off 23rd before it got totally spoiled and I lived behind Jarra's Ethiopian for a year or so and I have been seriously missing fresh raspberries, blueberries and marionberries lately.

Eileen said...

I know, I know. I could have spent a week in Powells! But I have no more room in my bag, nor desire to carry more. What I really need to do is figure out a way to spend a month in this area at some point, but that point is not today! I probably walked past your old house yesterday. I walked past some of mine, too. You must feel that you're a world away. I suppose you are!

Shanna Germain said...

This is exactly how I felt about Portland right before I left her. I was tired of all her pretty smiles and her swirling skirt, I guess. I began to miss the "old days" when no one had real hair-dos or umbrellas, when you could still bike to work in the rain without everyone looking at you like you were a drowned rat (which you were, of course, but when I first moved there everyone was a drowned rat)...

And, yet, I still can't fault her too much. Such a pretty, pretty place. I like her best now that I'm not in her gripped hug anymore though! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh my, I can hardly believe that the fates took us both to Portland at the same time. I was there Wed. afternoon through Friday morning. As was my family from afar. I probably could have met you along your long walk. I spent part of Thursday morning over on 30 something and Belmont, not that far from Hawthorne. Drat.
Oh, and Portland was messing with my psyche too.