It’s kind of a funny story how I ended up spending four years in a city I’ve never been to before moving into the worst and cheapest student housing option available. (It was quite literally a crack den.) Basically, my first choice school slapped me with a rejection letter so the university that offered me the most money in scholarships won the battle for my acceptance. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t a funny story, not at all. I probably would have described it as tragic in the moment, but it was a practical decision that led me to this city with a reputation for being weird and Portland, Oregon, is weird, but in the best way.
On more than one occasion I’ve admitted to loving Portland in real, verbal conversations. Portland is like that weird 75% vegan friend, always hopped up on coffee (among other things), who you aren’t sure about in the beginning, but slowly you come to learn that they’re dependable even if they aren’t 100% trustworthy. That friend who’s moody most days and unpredictable, with fantastic taste in music and access to independent cinema, that teaches you about art and life.
We always say that people and circumstances help shape who we become, often forgetting that our environment is just as great of a factor. I’m different from who I was five years ago and living in Portland is a big part of that.
I miss you, Portland. God help me, I do.
I miss the rain.
I miss waking up to the sound of raindrops hitting the ancient air conditioner (that I never used once in two years) hanging out of the window of my one bedroom apartment that resembled the set of That 70’s Show after crackhead squatters abandoned it. I miss waking up to the cold, forgetting what it’s like to live day-to-day in tortuous 90° weather and 150% humidity like I did throughout my childhood. In Portland, the sky was almost always gray and even if the sky was clear there’d always be a slight chill in the air and it always had an unexplainable way of making me giddy.
I miss being able to watch the seasons change.
I also really miss having five Starbucks within walking distance of my apartment. That was pretty sweet and convenient. (And contributed to my coffee dependency, which I have long since accepted and am not at all complaining about.)
I miss walking outside and never knowing what I was going to see.
I miss live music. I miss the easy access to concerts with a handful of venues throughout and surrounding the city. The length of my grocery list depended on if I was going to see a band play that week and how much I spent on admission. I’d rather see live music than eat. I’d rather feed my sound-craving soul than pay for bodily nourishment. But that’s how everyone feels about live music, right?
I miss all the things that are better described in pictures than words:
I miss spending entire days perusing Powell’s and watching limited release indie movies in theaters where they serve beer and pizza along with popcorn. I miss walking through the farmer’s market that stretches down the Park Blocks and, oh, the biscuits. I miss having everything I need within walking distance and being able to walk around the city late at night, when the rest of the world is asleep, feeling like my friends and I are the only people left in the city, as if we own it.
Portland was an interesting chapter in my life, one I like to re-read fondly. I did so much growing up in that city, had my heart broken and my beliefs challenged and I’m stronger and smarter because of it. I can’t wait to go back.