Today, I live in Portland, Oregon.
I love describing the ways that "southern hospitality" proves itself a myth, and how everyone here is so fucking nice I can't handle it. How it feels like that commercial where the guy thinks his gas station attendants are there to rob him, because gas station attendants here actually do some of that, and it surprises me so much that they're so helpful. Kids play in the street -- like, actually play, like they do on tv! -- and the department of Human Services actually treats you like a human -- as if helping you was their job, or something. People thank the bus driver.
I love reminding people of how lucky they've been to have lived here-- whether their whole lives or a couple years -- by describing where I've lived, and what I've lacked because of it.
But I'll stop whining for a minute.
We try to do at least one interesting thing per week. Back in the fall it was Rose City Comic Con, before that it was my birthday so it was busier, with a street fair saturday and a trip to the nickel arcade. The weekend before was $2 day at the science museum so we went to a planetarium show. Before that was $3 movie theaters (with beer of course!) bands at people's houses, movies in the park, a variety of farmers markets several times a week. Fireworks for seemingly no reason. A haunted corn maze with a mini circus/cabaret in the center. Friendsgiving with almost-strangers. Breweries. Street fairs. $2 happy hours. Shakespeare plays on top of a small mountain (volcano!).
There is so. much. stuff.
» it's Will-Am-ette not will-ah-met. Think Willamette like Damnit
» Couch street is pronounced Cooch. Don't even ask why, there doesn't seem to be a reason.
» everyone drives slow. Traffic sucks here because nobody seems to know that they're supposed to go the speed limit.
» Oswego is pronounced Osweego for some reason.
» it never seems to rain for more than an hour at a time. But it will drizzle for hours on the worst days, and winter is coming, so...
» there's four main districts; NW SW NE SE; depending on where they are in relation to the river. So any time you have an address, you know the area it's in. There's others, but not as big of a deal.
» Technically the cities on a grid system, but it's a convoluted lopsided grid. Streets curve in weird directions and stop randomly to pick back up blocks later. Google Maps is your friend.
» There are four main methods of transportation; the light rail (the max), the street car, the bus, and bikes. People love their bikes here.
» There are a lot of bridges. A lot. They're beautiful.
» people are weirdly, frighteningly nice. Not just polite, but nice, helpful, friendly, etc. It's weird.
» there's lots and lots of homeless people. Not just panhandlers but straight-up sleeping on the streets and pitching tents under bridges homeless. It's unpleasant and painful to see, but isn't usually harmful, safety-wise.
» this is a 21+ city that makes it kind of hard for minors to attend events. We're actually considering a fake ID for my sister just to get into shows or late night movies and restaurants.
» everything is expensive, get a good job. Seriously.
“How I Live My Weetzie Way in Portland" coming soon, as well as my own photographic love letter to my new city.