I am very excited to be leaving for France. My head is filled with thoughts and images of what I will see and do. That’s not to say that I won’t miss many things about Portland, my beautiful and nurturing home for the last 24 years. They are innumerable. But here are just a few:
the lack of pretension. Portlanders have a sophisticated nose for authenticity. Don’t try to get around without it. Just be yourself.
the neighborhoods of old craft houses. Yes, 3000 houses have been demolished to make way for apartments (we have an affordable housing crisis and people are still moving here in droves), but the character of the Northwest Hills and East Side neighborhoods is still defined by leafy streets, flower-filled gardens and early to mid-century 20th century homes;
the east side areas of pubs and vintage shops that populate formerly industrial areas (see pic above) with all their midcentury color and low-rise architecture;
the evergreen trees. They are really old. The are tall. They provide shade in summer, and a gentle beauty in winter. Forest Park is an urban haven for hikers and joggers (and some people end up living there). The Columbia River Gorge, the Coastal Range and Mt. Hood are close by for hikes. Beyond are even more forest-bathing possibilities;
the Asian and Mexican eateries of Beaverton and the Jade District. Summer means sweet corn tamales from a tienda on the East Side. On a cold rainy day, nothing beats the dumpling soup at Nak Won;
the joie de vivre. I see that expressed in the din of wine bars and craft brew pubs, the crowds at Feast, in how much people like to eat, drink and party, and see it in the regular murals festivals, the ribald naked bike ride, the desire in Portlanders’ DNA to break new ground in the way things get done. See: tiny houses, pot, Tom McCall.
I won’t go over all of Portland’s problems, those that have surfaced as the city evolves into a big city from its po-dunk origins, such as an explosion of homelessness all over the city, the unattractive high rises springing up fast to create much-needed housing and the growing strain on city government and their ability to think creatively, because they aren’t any different from what’s going on nationwide. But I will miss what makes Portland special.
Of course, you could take all that and chuck it for what I will really miss, which is the friendships I’ve gained from living here. More on that later.