Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Hey Portland. Thanks.

Me and my hair. Summer of 1990. Carrying...Max Fulton?
Today I woke up early and went off to the dentist for some drill and fill. The decay was particularly loathsome, festering away in the backest of my back teeth. The dentist kept shaking her head and reengaging something called a bur, then doing a "carries check," then back to the bur, whilst I sat there with my ratcheted open jaw.

I left the dentist's office with a numb mouth and the directive to come back next month to have a crown replaced. Joy.

So off I scuttled to my favorite neighborhood latte place for a rousing one-woman pity party, my sore mouth another reminder that the wheels of time don't move backwards. More dental work, more decrepitude, more decay in my future. Poor, poor girl.

The latte cheered me up though, as did acknowledging that I was sipping it down the street from my first house in Portland. I moved here 22 years ago this week, and as that realization dawned on me, I decided to reward myself with a nostalgic and hedonistic trip down memory lane -- which culminated in a spontaneous Timbers Reserves soccer match, because, hey, why the fuck not!?

A Timber walking the ball into the net. 5-1 victory.
I took a walk. There: the bungalow where I first marveled that tomatoes could still grow in November. The store that used to be a toy store that my kids called "Halloween" because it was there that they first experienced a face painter. Where Trader Joe's now stands, there was once Thriftway, to which I'd dash off for milk while my babies napped in the apartment across the street (what's the statute of limitations on child protective services, anyway?). The park where Sam first learned to generate his own lift on a swing set, and where Maggie first spied an amputee and shouted, "Hey that girl's arm is broke off!"

Northwest Portland is my brier patch. My salmon-spawn stop. The neighborhood most likely to cause me to sigh, tear up, or change some significant aspect of my life. When I moved here 22 years ago, I had a baby on each hip. I had an unruly mop of 80's hair (as opposed to the unruly mop of 2011 hair I sport currently). I was in my 20's. I had no idea what lay ahead and frankly, I didn't care.

Life proceeded, unfurled, grew up and out. Boyfriends, husbands, another child, a new degree, publication. Projects, jobs, stories, houses, rejections, cars. The usual. Portland has seen me through a bunch of lives. Movement through its quadrants. The blessings, the tragedies, the myriad miracles and disappointments.

I gotta say, though. I can't imagine a city more conducive to building a writer. Not a week goes by without a meaty literary event or book-related happening. Even before Wordstock (anyone remember LitEruption? I think that was even before websites!), this has always been a writer's town. And a reader's haven. A place where a mouth can go slowly to shit whilst the muse keeps thinking up new tricks. God, I love living here.


  1. I'm entirely enamored and more than a wee bit jealous. Such delicious writing about such a wonderful place.

    Keep this up and we'll all be heading your way.

  2. Oh Lisa, you must come out! We have a guest room....

  3. One of these days, you bet I will.

  4. And where are my manners? Thank you!

  5. Anonymous5:23 AM

    I used to envy people that found a place and felt really settled down in, or at least content. I haven't found that place yet, but I'm content to wander around for another few years yet.

    Also, I've got a blog award for you if you'd like to drop by my blog.


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