April 4. The anniversary of the date I moved to Portland, April 4, 2001. Thirteen years, wow. Since I’m turning thirty-nine this year, this means I have lived in Portland one-third of my life, and if you consider yourself an adult at age eighteen, I’ve lived in Portland for the majority of my adult years. April 4 2001 feels both like just yesterday and a long time ago. Reflecting on my “Portland Years” I’ve had several distinct eras. Some people from the early era I’m still in touch with, others dead, others unknown.
It’s been a good ride so far. I’ve learned a lot about myself and this town. This city has given me a lot and I’ve given a lot of myself to it.
How long will I be here? I don’t know. It could very well be another 13 years. Maybe the rest of my life? Or maybe I’ll move? Part of me still loves this city intensely and immensely. That part of me is a staunch defender of Portland, the kind of person who rolls their eyes when someone makes a Portlandia reference or makes some joke about “hipster vegan fixie kids”. Part of me wants to wander somewhere else, explore new places, try new things. That part of me is sick of some of the bullshit that Portland has been spewing as of late.
I did briefly entertain the idea of leaving town right after the breakup. The breakup…it’s been a tough 2013 into 2014. Even though our split happened almost nine months ago, and the rational part of me realizes it’s over between me and April, my heart still hasn’t healed completely. A vast loneliness has engulfed me in those nine months, a loneliness I haven’t yet shaken. I felt loneliness before April and I got together, but that was the “default” setting of my life. It feels worse after being close, intimate with someone for half a decade.
While leaving Portland and starting over somewhere new is definitely romantic, in reality there are drawbacks. I don’t relish moving and moving out-of-town would be a big deal. I’d be lucky to find a town with a few friends and acquaintances, so I’d have to create a new social circle. And look for work, too. I don’t have the vim and vigor for that like I used to. I was 25 when I moved to Portland, entering a new city at almost 40 is a different thing.
And of course, where would I move to? The Northwest is such a great place, with so much natural variety: mountains, rivers, oceans, seas, forests, deserts, volcanoes. Where else would I find that in the United States? We complain about the rain in the winter, but I don’t know if I could deal with snow all winter again, and I really don’t want to move to California. (No offense.)
And I still feel like I haven’t exhausted Portland’s, and Cascadia’s potential. There is so much of this region that I haven’t yet explored. And I have seen a lot of this city, but there is still stuff that I haven’t seen. On a monthly basis I discover new things. Maybe when I feel like I’ve “done it all” here, I can move on. But will that ever happen?
And while I don’t like all the bullshit of being in an “it” place, it still feels great to be in a city when it’s “happening” at least once in my life. Most people never get that privilege. I remember when I moved to San Francisco in 2000, wandering around and seeing the sites from the 60’s, feeling like I had missed the right time to be there. I moved to Portland just before “the right time”. While it would have been fun to get to town earlier and see things before everything became so cool, what’s past is past. I don’t entertain any notions of moving to another town as it becomes the “it” place, once is enough.
Here’s to another year of Portland. Hopefully it will be a great one.