What’s the ideal size of a town or city? This is a personal preference and everyone’s different. Some may not want to live in a city bigger than 10,000. Me? I grew up in a very small city of 20,000, ended up in a few more rural places (though not rural by Western standards), then moved to Big Cities In The West. Right now I find myself in Portland, Oregon, a mid-sized American city of 650,000. While moving to a smaller city is a romantic notion, especially with easier access to “the country”, I like the idea of living in a mid-sized city–not too small that it’s stifling, not too big that it’s overwhelming.
And Portland’s plenty big enough for me. While at times it can feel like a small town (especially if you don’t get outside of the inner districts), there’s lots of nooks and crannies to explore. And when I think I’ve seen every part of this town, I’ll do a ride and find places that I didn’t know exist.
This is not new. Back in 2013 I was at a crossroads: I had just broken up with my long-term, co-habitating partner April. Portland felt dead to me that summer, and I didn’t know what to do. Should I move somewhere new, maybe Minneapolis? A new town seemed like an exciting proposition, but I knew that I had grown comfortable in the Rose City, and moving to a new city is harder to do the older you get. And would I just end up repeating what I did in Portland in a new city? That didn’t seem that exciting.
So I went on a bike ride and discovered some new stuff, like Knapp Falls, a spot I’ve returned to several times over the years. Seeing that waterfall, as small as it was, signified to me that there was still things to discover here, and growth still possible. I stayed in town. There were some rocky years, but I’m glad I stuck around, especially since I found the love of my life, Emee.
And there’s still stuff to discover! It’s best to get off the beaten path to find these hidden things. I was rambling about East Portland the other day, testing out an upcoming ride. I purposely chose a few different streets because I hadn’t been on them before, so it was neat checking them out. I also discovered some dirt path cut-throughs and gravel streets, always a favorite. And I checked out a new-to-me park, Glenfair. None of these things were particularly mind-blowing, but it’s always fun to find new stuff, especially in this part of town, a part that I frequent. Discovering new places in deep SW is a given since I don’t get over there much, but finding new stuff in areas I think I know is more rewarding.
And I know there’s still more out there. I’ll keep on exploring, finding new things. It’s what I do.