Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Coming to Portland

I took the greyhound bus from San Francisco to Portland on the Fourth of July in 1993. Next July it will be twenty-years that I've been here. Twenty years!

While I had come out to stay with Kate and get to know her better right after I graduated from college, I never expected to stay. That's what all the now-Portlanders say, actually. They come for a summer, and end up staying. However, I found that by starting with, "I came out to get to know my birthmother..." usually just led to a longer conversation than I was ready to have.

Right now, I'm working on the chapter of the book of that fateful trip out to Portland. Yes, fateful seems like a loaded word, but, man, now that I look back and see that it changed the course of my life, implicitly and unexpectedly, then, yeah, fateful seems justified.

Writing about the Portland of twenty years ago makes me nostalgic of that era of Portland, and I can just imagine how interesting it will be to read Kate's side, and her experience of Portland when she arrived in Portland about twenty years before me. Actually, I never put that together before - yet another synchronicity. She must have come out to Portland when she was about the same age as me? Eh, you the reader, will know better. Kate's writing about this too, right?

I went to the chiropractor today (Surah - do you read the blog? If so, then hi!), which is someone who is a friend of Kate's and the chiropractor Kate went to. I had never been to a chiropractor before I met Kate, but soon after I started working at Nike and was working in front of a computer non-stop for hours at a time, I got a crick in my neck and Kate recommended I go and it, too, changed my life. What a way to feel better!

Anyway, I found out today that Surah (the chiropractor)'s landlord is kicking her out. She works on Hawthorne in a great old classic Portland home / building. Meanwhile, around it, modernization is going up like crazy. Those who've been in Portland the past two decades know what I mean ... Clinton is not what it was, Division - the same, and now Hawthorne seems to be going that way as well.

You might think I'm complaining about modernization - condemning the new, multi-story structures that are replacing the old, classic Portland buildings that define the place. Truth is, I like both. I like how Portland continues to evolve and be an exciting, energized place to live with a new restaurant / bar / spot to go to every time we go out. I just don't want Portland to lose it's Portlandness... the "Keep Portland Weird" side (even if that was a phrase borrowed from lil-sister Austin).

I still remember my dad (my adoptive dad) smiling at Portland after his third or fourth visit as he watched the people walking by, saying, "They relish the Bohemian, don't they?" I couldn't agree more - but where he saw it as cute and quirky, I saw it as essential - a place where I could breathe and feel at home in a way I didn't in New Jersey. No, I don't want to lose that part of Portland and have it be a generic city like any other, but I still want it to be able to grow, change and explore - that's the Portland bohemian spirit anyway, isn't it? Stay curious, experiment, try the new, but know what was important in the old.

to view my birthmother's blog on the same topic, go to:


  1. Lots of Good information in your post, I favorited your blog post so I can visit again in the future, Thanks.

    1. Thanks for the comment! It's wonderful to have feedback.

  2. The Portland of twenty years ago was defined by several businesses that defined Portland for me at that time (just out of college, and just getting to know Kate)

    the East Avenue Tavern (I had never been to a bar that didn't have hard-alcohol, first of all, and it's smoky Irish-filled "sessions" challenged my East-Coast sense of Irishness; and, sure, dating an Irishman influenced that as well)

    the Hawthorne Street Cafe (where I chose not to work because - not knowing my limitations when first looking for a job - I told them I couldn't work weekends)

    any and all McMenamins (where being a deadhead was revered and celebrated. Though I was never a deadhead myself, I loved the culture).

    The zoo. (Kate and I went to a concert there - Kevin's band with the clogger, what the heck was their name? and I thought it was the best place in the world for a concert).

    There's more, I'm sure, I just can't think of them now!

  3. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles.

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  5. Thanks for the great post on your blog, it really gives me an insight on this topic.

  6. Thanks so much for commenting. I have a dear friend who is a New Jersey chiropractor - Isabel Velez. You don't happen to know her, do you? (not like all chiropractors in New Jersey know each other, and besides, she might still be in New York) but just thought I'd check!

  7. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles.

  8. hmm how old was kate when she landed in portland. i arrived there in the fall of '77 and i figure i was 29ish. this would have made kate ahhh 25 or so, just a guess. god that seems like a long time ago. hey i guess it was, like 37years ago. wow. uncle steve