Friday, November 20, 2009

rainy days gone by

Rainy days like today kind of make me miss living in Oregon. It's so hard for me to see a place in a positive light when my life is in shambles, but in retrospect my experience there wasn't all that bad. After all, that's where I met K. The basic problem was that I had a job that didn't pay me even close to enough to survive on (especially under my mountainous credit card debt), and the incessant rain didn't do much for my spirits. Plus, there were an awful lot of intentionally homeless kids who thought they were cool & independent but ended up mooching off of the rest of us and yelling at us when we didn't provide them with "bus fare" (aka "drug money"). So yes, I am a bit bitter about my time there, but there are a few things that I really really miss. LIKE:

1. Trips to the Coast

Before we started dating, K and I would take impromptu road trips out to the ocean and it was awesome. The Oregon coast is beautiful in a way that is immeasurably vast, windswept and wild. Every time we ventured westward the beaches were almost abandoned, which isn't something you experience often when you're eastward-bound.
I think I am drawn to this oceanic aesthetic more than the summer-vacation-style Cape (even though I do love Cape Cod, it's a more pampering, pleasant, unexciting love), which is why I feel like I could drive up and down the coast of Maine all day long and never get bored. There is something so much darker and more dramatic about the rocky ridges and thunderous, icy surf that romanticizes the coast of Central and Northern Maine (no Old Orchard Beach for me, thaaaanks) and the Pacific Northwest in my mind. Sooomeday I will live there (on my houseboat? :p)... how could a person possibly fail to find inspiration in such a striking landscape?

A multi-story independent bookstore that covers an entire city block, this place is heaven for lovers of the written word. I could spend an entire day perusing the shelves of this majestic tower of tomes and always walked out with an average of 5-10 books under my arm. If you live in the Portland area you've undoubtedly entered through those double doors, but it's definitely worth a visit, even if you're only in town for a few days.

This place was awesome. Portland has some really great vintage and thrifting opportunities, and this was one store I regularly returned to. The location I frequented was right across from Powell's, but apparently there is a bigger one on Hawthorne street that I never knew about! I tended to stay away from SE Portland, primarily because it was on the opposite side of the city & the bus ride was rather long. It's my theory that Portland is so great for thrifting & vintage-hunting because it is such a transient city. People are always passing through and dumping their belongings along the way. One thing in particular that I noticed when I was out there was the plethora of vintage VW busses everywhere. Again, I theorize that their presence is primarily a result of so many seventies-era cross-country road trips that ended on the west coast. A good VW bus is nearly impossible to be found around here, and even then you can only purchase one for a rather hefty sum. We have all the beautiful old architecture on the East Coast though, so I guess I can't complain.

So. Dirt. Cheap. Unfortunately for me, when I was living in Portland I was pretty much too broke to shop at all, even at Value Village (ouch). It's a shame, because if places like that existed around here I'd be scoring the racks every week for deals... I once had to pass on a twenty-dollar working typewriter because I "had no use for it." I mean, come on, what kind of an excuse is that?

5. Our Apartments on Barbur Blvd.

Though the location was less-than-desirable in a big way (Barbur Blvd is not exactly a quiet street and it basically overlapped the Interstate right next to our complex... plus we were sandwiched on either side by a strip club and a Fantasy Video Superstore), the apartments themselves were really nice & spacious. K's apartment even had a fireplace and a backyard (which we dug up & seeded) surrounded by blackberry bushes galore.
Tigard's finest 24-hour Pie House still haunts me with ghostly visions of Avocado Benedict and plump Breakfast Burritos. Despite the fact that I was too financially-strapped to splurge on treats like typewriters, I did dine out quite a lot. After all, I (in the immortal words of Aladdin) "gotta eat to live" and Banning's was a favorite feasting-spot until the very end. I'm sure much of its appeal was due to the fact that it was open 24 hours, but we certainly went many times during regular restaurant hours. It really distresses me that you can't get a good meal after 10 pm in these parts... most of the time you're out of luck after 8 o'clock!

Of course, being a food fanatic, I could probably summon up a half-dozen favorites without a sweat, but I also especially miss La Provence in Lake Oswego.

7. Cruising through Wine Country on the Motorcycle

I almost cried when K sold this bike before moving to Vermont. I was with it for all of its short life in our midst and became obsessively fond of it. I jumped on any opportunity to ride on the back of this black beauty, which pretty much meant any slightly sunny day. I miss it, but motorcycles aren't terribly practical on the back roads of Vermont. All I know is... once you go bike, you never go back (I don't, anyway)!

So, Portland -- there you have it. I didn't hate you all that much. In fact, I kind of miss you somewhere deep inside.


  1. This was an enjoyable read! Nice to hear more about your time out there. I'm dying to go to Powell's.

  2. It is funny to look at that motorcycle because it looks exactly like the one dad had when we were out on the west coast in 1982. Did I not realize that before? I'm glad to see the happy photos of Portland since I usually think of mold, mildew and toadstools growing in the damp, damp, weather when I think of our conversations the year you were gone.