Oh God, I Think I Miss Portland


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.

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I love live music. I love experiencing live music whether it be in a small, dive bar or a sold out arena. I love being in a crowd of strangers, one collective body absorbing the pure energy emitted on stage, brought together for a single purpose, the mutual love of sound. Flashing lights, screaming fans, sweat and smiles. As a youth, what I didn’t love as much was craving live music and living on an island where concerts were less accessible unless you’re into local, Hawaiian music, which had never been my favorite flavor.

The first big, stadium concert I ever went to, sans parental guidance, was Gwen Stefani’s Sweet Escape Tour. 2007. I was sixteen, worn out by the daily struggles attached to high school life. My high school did not sit atop a Hellmouth. It was a Hellmouth. (And all-girls. Enough said.) I was mentally exhausted, plagued with friendship drama, and couldn’t think or talk about anything else. Then I walked into that arena and the lights dimmed and the show began and it was as if nothing else mattered. That’s the power of live music.

All that mattered was the music and how freaking cool Gwen was as she ran up and down the aisles of the arena accompanied by her human doll Harajuku girls. The screams and the cheers and the energy of the room was infectious and cleansing. There’s nothing like being fully immersed in an experience and engrossed in a performance, taking it in with every one of your senses, escaping reality for at least a little while.


This also happened to be the time my friend snuck her “professional” Canon camera into the venue even though “professional” photography and video weren’t allowed. She took a few pictures, I took a few pictures and we switched back and forth. Mid-picture taking, a giant Samoan security guard pulled my friend aside and gave her a firm talking to. Meanwhile, our other friend and I just watched, wondering if it’d make us bad friends if she got kicked out and we stayed till the concert was over. Luckily, the security guard let her off with a warning. It’s one of my most memorable moments, one we bring up every time we see each other.

I think that’s the moment I realized the true power of live music. Not only does it bring people together and transcend the difficulties of daily life, but it makes us happy, auditory heroin as I like to call it. Experiencing live music is the safest kind of high (except my hearing will probably be shot in thirty years). I remember every single concert I’ve ever been to in ridiculous detail. It all started with seeing Gwen Stefani perform, close enough to reach out and touch (and my friend actually did, was nearly knocked into her). From then on I was hooked. My name is Jessyca and I’m a live music addict.

(Yes, that picture was taken with the alleged camera. One of my favorites ever.)