Halloween in Portland is an odd experience. Today, I saw a woman in a cape, a hippie riding a bicycle while carrying a conga drum, and a guy wearing an inordinate amount of eyeliner… and I couldn’t be sure that any of them were dressed up for the holiday. Surely, this happens in other cities, but I doubt it’s as prevalent as here in Portland.
It makes me reflect on why I am living here. Why Portland? For the second time in my life, I am having to answer that question. The first occasion was five years ago, when my boyfriend Marty and I left behind the endless cornfields and rampant conservatism of Indiana for the greener pastures of Portland. The answer then was a simple, “We visited, and we liked it.” Nowadays, the question frequently comes up again. Marty and I (along with Oscar, our golden retriever) left Portland last December to set out on an indefinite road trip across the US. Although we loved Oregon, we wanted to live somewhere new, and planned to settle down in a new city when we were done with our cross-country circuit.
Funny how things work out. Here we are, two weeks after concluding our trip, settled back down in Portland. Now, partly, that’s because I’m finishing up my degree at Portland State, and it just makes sense to stay here rather than transfer to another school for my final year and a half. But another part is that we found through our travels that we truly love the Pacific Northwest. The gray, moody Pacific coast beats the overcrowded, sunny, Southern Californian beaches any day. Its people are friendly but intelligent, generally over-educated yet down-to-earth. And the Northwest has an independent streak, even a sense of the untamed, that you just don’t find east of the Mississippi. Plus, the beer here is just the best.
So why Portland? Because it makes sense in my life, and after almost a year of traveling the country, I can say with certainty that the Pacific Northwest is the best part of the country… at least for me. Keep your breakneck pace, New York; and your high cost of living, Boston; and don’t even get me started on the South. It’s Portland for me.