Sunday, February 1, 2009

Part Deux - Our First Week in Portland

We spent much of the weekend getting our stuff into a reasonable semblance of order. Having ditched our long dying 20 year old particleboard Ikea bookcases in Tulsa (that had made it from France to Tulsa and through quite a few moves within Tulsa, but that were clearly not up to the task of moving cross country), we no longer had space for the many boxes of books we refuse to part with. We still don't, but we're looking at options. In the meantime, though, we have one big stack of boxes left to unpack.

Our apartment is in a fantastic neighborhood full of shops and restaurants, and only minutes from downtown. My partner got a job in the suburbs, so he takes the car to work. I got a job downtown, so I take Max. Thus far, it's working well. The dog is adjusting to her new walking routine and all of the interesting and wonderful new people, other dogs, and smells that permeate her new domain. I think she's even figuring out how the elevator works. What's this, she thinks. It's a little room, and I go into it, sit down for a while, and suddenly the door opens and I'm somewhere else. Ok, whatever, hey - that smells good, I'm going to go pee on it.

We've spent a lot of time walking around our new neighborhood, trying new restaurants, taking in the sights, learning our way around. We're feeling a little bit homesick, because nothing here is familiar, but we're adjusting. As I said the other night at dinner, my only complaint about Portland is that nothing is comfortable yet. Nothing fits like an old shoe. Everything is new, everything is different, and so I'm always at a state of slightly heightened awareness, which is a little bit tiring. In Tulsa, we always had our places that we could go to feel comfortable - my parents' house, our favorite Mexican restaurant, the Temple. We don't have that yet here. But we'll get there, slowly but surely. I'm sure it's a little more overwhelming for my partner than it is for me - I've spent my life traveling and lived in a number of different places. He's never lived outside of Oklahoma.

Portland is a living, breathing, urban city in ways that Tulsa will never be. There's an energy in the air, even when that air is encased in cold, drizzly fog. People are out and about, enjoying their surroundings, living, being supremely aware of the world. There's an intelligent sparkle in the air, an aura of exploration, of learning, of the desire for knowledge and personal advancement. In short, Portland is exactly the city I wanted it to be.

Sure, that's a supremely naive assessment. I can't ignore the legion of homeless people asking for change, many of them kids in their 20s that make you wonder how they got so desperate so young. Was it just an act of rebellion - moving out of Mommy and Daddy's house with nary a plan and moving to Portland only to discover that stuff costs money? Is the economy really that bad? Is there something else going on beneath the surface that I can't see?

So this city has its warts, its difficulties, but for me, a kid raised between the comfortable but banal suburban sprawl of Tulsa and the exciting urban cosmopolitan vibrating life of Paris, Portland is in many ways a paradise. It's easy enough that a kid from Tulsa can figure it out, but it has enough urban life that a Parisian urbanite wouldn't get bored here.

I'm just beginning to dig into the various facets of this city. There will be plenty of time to see everything, and it's going to take a long time before this city truly feels like home. Yet, I think my partner and I will do well here.

This blog, however, will suffer for it. I'll do my best to keep up with it, but now that I have a hell of a lot more to do outside in the real world, my Internet time is going to be a bit curtailed. Don't expect Sinister to comment on every breaking news story. For example, I still haven't figured out what the hell I think about the scandal involving Portland's mayor. I just know it's a shitty, shitty situation that has dragged a lot of people into a lot of mud, and I don't think anyone involved in the scandal is a "good guy." And I can't even begin to comment on President Obama's stimulus package, except to say that we clearly need to do something about the economy and our national infrastructure, and what I've heard of Obama's proposal sounds good.

Thus, Sinister readers, I am doing well. Life, the Universe, and everything are, thus far, going where they should be going. We've been extremely lucky so far that everything with this move has gone so smoothly, and we're grateful to Murphy for turning his back on this one.

Be excellent to each other.