After living in The OC (Orange County, California, just south of Los Angeles) for nearly 30 years, I recently moved to Portland, Oregon. The OC was nice for several reasons; the weather, the beaches, and the abundant free parking come to mind. But, it was time to move on; as nice as it was, I just couldn’t see spending the rest of my life there. Not because it’s too fake; I’m pretty fake myself, so that was never a problem for me. And not because it was getting too crowded, the more the merrier as far as I’m concerned. And it’s certainly not white flight, please don’t think that. The real reason that I left California is that it was getting too expensive.
Here I am in Portland. It’s hip, it’s happening, and it’s affordable. Before I moved up here, I was a little apprehensive because it’s not like I’m the first economic refugee from California to move to Portland. There are a lot of us up here. I figured that the locals would resent us, give us the cold shoulder, the high hat as they say, because we are ruining their city with our presence, creating traffic congestion, wicked competition for street parking, and ungodly lines at Trader Joes. But, the locals have been nothing but kind. Sure, there have been a few conversations where people opine about Portland being lovely, but not what it was 15 years ago. They don’t come out and say it, but the implication is that Portland is not as good as it once was because of all the people moving up here from California. But, people are so nice up here that, despite the fact that we are invading their once perfect city, they just can’t help but be welcoming.
I feel silly because the very first thing I was planning on doing upon my arrival was changing my license plates so that my car wouldn’t be vandalized. I imagined Portlanders to be the equivalent of the surfers at Lunada Bay, protecting their home break like bratty children. I’ve been here a month now and I still have my California plates, no problem at all. In fact, the vibe up here is so chill and peaceful that I recently started wearing my Dodger hat. I’ve only been heckled once for it, and that was by a Giants’ fan visiting Portland.
There are so many nice things about Portland. To start with, it’s not California. That was cynical, without meaning, and done for a cheap laugh. There is no reason for me to bash California, and all its smog, traffic, and crime; mainly, because California really doesn’t care what I think. California is self-absorbed, admiring its own reflection in the shop window.
Without California, there could be no Portland.
I love to write cryptic stuff like that, thinking that it makes me seem smart, profound. The truth is I don’t know what I’m talking about. Without California, there could be no Portland, really? I crack myself up with my pretentiousness. Truth is, I’m just happy to be here in this beautiful city with all these lovely trees. To be honest, the river is weak. All it does is make me miss the ocean. I have no trouble leaving California in the rear view, but god I miss the ocean. I drove out to the Oregon coast twice already in my short time here. It’s a long drive, but worth it. There is just something about the ocean, maybe I’ll get over it, but not yet.
Other than not having an ocean, Portland is cool, and as summer draws to a close, the promise of rain doesn’t scare me. With that measly river, this town could use more water, even if it is falling from the sky.