Thursday, November 08, 2007Portland Scene
(Two in one day! w00t!)
I know I've said this before, but walking around Portland, I keep feeling the way I felt in London. A lot of it, I know, is just the act of walking to get places again, of riding on the bus standing up, leaning against the luggage bin the way I used to, gazing across a landscape of bridges crossing the river. A lot of it is just a semiconscious association, maybe some kind of physical memory unlocked by walking with a purpose again. Portland doesn't look like London except in the most superficial ways -- there's a similar attention to detail, and its pedestrianized scale is the same, though that's common to every city of walkers. But there are as many differences as similarities.
But I just can't get over the feeling of being back in London. Crossing the bridge (especially at night, when downtown and the hills beyond create a deep field of lights that can be heartbreakingly lovely), I get the same aching affection for Portland that I did for London. Except this time, it's better -- this time, that ache comes without the sharp edge of knowing that sooner or later it will all be over, that eventually I'll have to leave. I used to stand on Waterloo Bridge on my walk to the tube station, trying to soak in the way St. Peters looks at night, trying to commit it to memory so I could still call it up even when I couldn't go look at it anymore.
I don't have to do that here. I still do it, but I don't have to. Nobody's going to make me go, I can stay for as long as I want. I can make this home, if I can learn how to live in just one place. This can be my own city.
Incidentally, I've decided that Portland is pretty much what you'd get if London and Anchorage had a bastard love child with a lot of talent and some self-esteem problems.
I walked up to Stumptown this evening to get a coffee and sit and make notes for another project. On the way home, I found a small black cat wrapped in a jacket under a tree with a little bouquet of maple and ginkgo leaves. It didn't move when I approached, and next to it someone had laid its collar and a paper coffee cup with a note inside. The note read:
"I found this sweet kitty in the road about 6:30 this morning. She was still a bit warm, but there was no breathing and no heartbeat and nothing to be done. The injuries must have been internal. I've given her my jacket and left her here, hoping you will find her. I'm so sorry."
And about a foot away, written into the concrete of the sidewalk whenever it was poured, was the single word: "WEEN".
That's pretty much what Portland is like. |