I love this town called Portland a heckuva lot. So, in honour of the upcoming 18th anniversary of my arrival in this great town, I thought I’d toss out a list of five things I love about Portland. I know, the usual list number is 10. However, I tend to espouse, at great length, about things I like, so in the interest of keeping this to a nice, blogworthy length, I opted for half the items, but all the love. So here it is…5 things I love about the city formerly known as Stumptown.
What?? What did you say? Rain, are you serious? This, from the girl who lists as one of her most traumatic childhood experiences being caught in a NYC deluge? Yep. It was an epiphany level experience when I realized I actually kinda like the rain now. Let me clarify: I like Portland rain. Not torrential downpour, soaked to the bone southeastern US rain, no way. But the misty, pervasive showers, the gentle sprinkles, they cleanse the air and don’t make me feel like I’m about to drown, which is how I felt during the above mentioned deluge. Granted, I’m a bit taller now, so my fear of drowning by puddle is somewhat reduced, but still. Also, the myth (Yes! Myth!) that Portland gets oodles and buckets of rain keeps people away, because we all know that once they get here, they never wanna leave. Like me.
Ok I know what you’re all saying. Yawn. Of course Powell’s is on the list, EVERYBODY puts Powell’s on their list, can’t you be original? From my perspective though, I keenly feel the humongous slap upside the head that Powell’s is to other major book sellers (::cough:: Barnes & Noble) Some of my favorite things in New York when I lived there were Blimpie for the subs, catching a Mets game at Shea Stadium (insert heartbreaking sob here), and going to Barnes & Noble. B&N seemed like a reader’s mecca to my young, book-loving soul. Plus, it was in New York, so how could anything else possibly measure up? Now picture me walking into Powell’s the first time. No lie, I swear I could hear a choir of angels. And I remember thinking, clear as if it was yesterday: “Barnes & Noble, you SUCK ASS.” Thankfully, my appreciation of Blimpie subs faded long before that. My Mets fandom however…I’m sad to say is still alive and in mourning.
Portland is not the number one dog-friendly city in the country. I find this extremely hard to fathom, as does my dog. She has a tendency to get quite squeaky in the car when we pass by locations of particular canine interest that she likes. Therefore, she tends to maintain a fairly constant level of squeekiness as I drive around Portland. Between our usual hangout at the dog park at Mt Tabor, the constant dog cookies the mailman brings, the occasional splashdown in the uber dog-friendly section of the Sandy River, the thrice-yearly baths at Lucky Lab Dog Washes (Dogtoberfest, Multnomah Dog Days, Tails & Ales)…the list goes on and on.
(Err, correction, Jessie says that the Lucky Lab dog baths are NOT on her list of faves. But they have beer! I insisted. And live music! And free doggy samples! She just glares at me.)
There is nearly always some dog-related event going on around town. Not to mention all the dog parks scattered throughout the metro area (Mt. Tabor is our fave!) So what if they’re not exactly welcome on public transportation, like they are in Chicago or whatever. Or Austin Texas. Really?? Austin Texas?? Portland dogs are loved, and everyone knows it. Screw the rest of the ‘we love dogs’ cities…if I were a dog, I’d want to live in Portland.
#2 Nature vs City.
Nature in the city, how I love thee…let me count the ways! I love how Portland has so seemlessly blended the need for expansion with a very green sense of the need for parks, and greenspaces, and community gardens, and, well, nature within the city limits. I mean, just consider some of the bigger natural spaces within the city:
- Chinese Garden
- Washington Park
- Hoyt Arboretum
- Japanese Garden
- Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
- Forest Park
- Powell Butte
- Mt Tabor
That’s the short list. It doesn’t include the hundreds of city parks and recreation spaces scattered all over. I’ve never lived anywhere in this city where I wasn’t within a few blocks of a park, and all super nice (at least during the day…). Having such a plethora of natural spaces, I think, creates oases of calm for a city’s residents; a place to recharge, to introspect, to run and play and love and think. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons Portland is so progressive, sustainable-conscious and green: There is evidence of nature’s power everywhere you look. Nature is perpetuating itself in Portland.
I’ve lived in a lot of places, but I’ve lived here in Portland longer than anywhere else. I remember coming to a realization once, long ago, while living in Syracuse NY (aka the armpit of NY state. Trust me). I realized that no matter where you go, where you lay your hat down at night, that the place you live really makes very little difference in your life, when you boil it down. The place is not you, and you are not the place you live in. It can have its effects, true, but they tend to be minor; the thoughts you have and the life you live and the problems you face are universal. I was convinced that that was a statement of truth. Not anymore. There is something about Portland, something about the particular combination of sun and sky and rain and mountain and ocean and desert that make up Portland and the Pacific NW that surrounds it, that make it truly a unique place. And it attracts truly unique people. Never in my life have I encountered so consistently such caring, thoughtful…good people. I have had good friends while living outside of Portland. But never so many, who are so dear to me, and who I would honestly entrust with my life and those things I treasure the most. I love this place, and all the people in it, whether I know you or not, because you make Portland what it is. I will be happy to die here, someday. Um. Someday not too soon, that is. Dammit where is that salt…anyone have any wood I can knock?!?
Well there it is. 5 things I love about Portland. Love Portland too? Then get involved, and get out there and enjoy it!