common truths, part xxxiii: to value a place, travel.

30 October 2012 § Leave a comment

It took Seattle to get me to like Portland more. I wonder how often that happens. One moves here, and it wasn’t quite what they expect, so they drive to Seattle, get a taste of the real big city by the sea, with its smelly streets and dirty cops, and then suddenly realize why they moved to Portland as opposed to any other place in the States: peaceful neighborhoods managed by a culture of smart lushes, artists and magicians. Its transience mirrors my soul, and the fact that finding living space and work here is bloody difficult speaks to one truth: we’re all trying to get somewhere else.

Movement, however, is not always physical. It takes place quietly within us while we look for other things, like answers. In the meantime we find communes of like spirits – hostels in far-off countries, organic farms in the jungle, Portland – to conspire with, to plan the next adventure. Our feet will take us far if we let them, but we must give them reason and energy to walk.

The City by the Sea welcomed me into its overcast, and I walked the twenty blocks to downtown from the one neighborhood I know my way around. A friend and her posse of college bros had $97 tickets to a Halloween rave, and intended to sleep 15 of them in a small but elegant room at the Hilton. As night set in, the guy with the Elmo mask jumped up and down occasionally. I assumed this was out of excitement. (I’ve seldom spent time around the College Bro breed, but from what I gathered that night, I’d say there’s potential.) We walked to the stadium, myself naturally the least costumed, and met a line six blocks long.

We continued to its head, passed a thousand figures clad in body paint and irony. I saw no less than fourteen Mario and Luigi pairs, thirteen giant bananas, and more push-up bras than I’d ever taken off put together. More empathogens and hallucinogens flowed through that line than the single city cop parked at the front of it could have done paperwork on in a year. So he left the party monsters alone. I said goodbye at the door, and on the way back I saw amongst mediocre costumes one Hunter S. Thompson, in the form of a cute latina.

While they danced I walked the piers alone in the spitting rain. To escape it I paid fifteen dollars to ride a ferris wheel. The round glass gondolas reminded me mightily of Willy Wonka’s elevator. I faced off with the orange, black and white skyline, noted that the Halloween theme colors show up every night in the city, and, hyper-aware of the high wind and my manufactured height, laughed at myself for being scared. I sat with myself for five revolutions of the pod around the great circle, one moment diving into the sea and the next rising up to meet the city of man. We got to know each other better.

By the weekend was over I’d spent time with good friends, myself, and the road. Ready to settle again: the grind is a whirlwind of emails to potential roommates and landlords, driving around the city, and exploring neighborhoods. Asking politely about available jobs, taking in every. single. rejection. and letting them go. Hope is an obnoxious counterpart; we fuel each other toward perfection, even as we fall by the wayside and pick the other up again to endure another lap.


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