Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Portland post

I guess I'll finally write about my trip to Portland. The only reason I haven't is that I'm sad I'm not still there. In a perfect world, I never would have left.

So, like the dork I am, I kept notes while I was in Portland. Memories I wanted to hold close, images I wanted to preserve, events that made me smile or laugh or gape at, disbelieving. Here's what Portland has to offer:

Leaf-shaded, sun-warmed wild blackberries, eaten out of hand on a busy street; graffiti that makes you stop and think; poetry everywhere, written or unwritten; unbelievably delicious Lebanese food on the cheap, and pita the size of your torso; the grandeur of mountains and trees and sky filling your senses; three excellent local bands for $5 in a smokeless venue that offers free water and isn't too crowded; top-notch, locally roasted coffee; 75-degree weather in August; an independent bookstore that covers an entire city block and necessitates a map to navigate; the word "sustainability" actually applied; a health food co-op that offers "living Incan berries" that made me eyes pop open as I chewed; tea eggs; girls wearing capes, butterfly wings, or Link costumes roaming the streets; cats on leashes; 24-hour donut shops that offer abundant weirdness; people on unicycles; people that make art in your latte or Guinness foam; free symphony concerts by the river, complete with fireworks and cannons; hemp milk offered at various bakeries and tea houses; a haunted pizzeria; food carts with amazing, fresh food; a weekend market that enlivens downtown and makes you want to empty your pockets in exchange for beautiful homemade wares; a building that boasts a tattoo place, a "Dragon Herbarium" and an "Irish Dancing Store;" spectacular waterfalls half an hour from the city; chatty Ethiopian waiters with surprising knowledge of world history; lush thunderstorms; scenic drives to the beach along winding strips of highway dotted with farms, lookout points, and tree graveyards; misty mountains; unbelievable clouds; the vastness of sand, sky, and water at Cannon Beach; sunsets that flash orange, pink, gray, blue, yellow, black; perfect roses; spiritual awakening; Mt. Hood, imposing in the distance; houses with character, personality; the best hot dog in the history of time; polite, friendly, open people; the feeling of possibility.

There are these drinking fountains downtown called Benson Bubblers that offer fresh, delicious drinking water. In researching their history, I came across this quotation that just about sums up Portland:

Simon Benson's water fountains still bubble invitingly on Portland's downtown streets. And around the fountains has grown a city of parks, outdoor artwork, coffee carts, microbreweries, bridges and bookstores. Portland is a people town, whose pedestrian-friendly city blocks are half the size of those in other towns, where outdoor benches are crowded with readers enjoying good books and spring sunshine, and where limits on growth have kept the surrounding countryside within a 20-minute drive of the city's core. To many, Portland is still the paradise that captured William Overton's enthusiasm so many years ago.

So true.

I'm so moving here. I felt home when I was there. It's hard to explain, but it's powerful and certain, and I know I would be perfectly happy there.

Photos from the trip are here (mine) and here (Jay's).


Louisiana Belle said...

Oh, my. I knew it would be glorious, and I knew you would be smitten. The pictures are absolutely gorgeous. They make me long to live in a place that fosters community in a very real way, with a beautiful scenic backdrop as a bonus. I can't bear the thought of you moving, but I understand why.

Autumn said...

Move there with me! You would adore it. And you'd be so energized and creatively inspired, you wouldn't look back. Maybe it's not feasible now, but in a few years? It's possible, right?

Louisiana Belle said...

Well, anything is possible. I guess when I have no further ties with my Cajun family (the close ones), then I would consider it. Texas is choking the life out of me. Every summer it gets worse and harder to deal with. There really is not much here for inspiration. I'd love to play tennis again, but not here. I'll bet Portland has a great climate for it. Just the photography alone makes me want to start packing!

Mickey Schufman said...

Hey!I'm your moms friend! I was in Portland last year for a training conference. Didn't get to see too much of it, but what I saw I absolutely loved!!! I came back to TX and did research on it. If I had to move somewhere, it would definitely be on the top of my list!!