All too often we take so much for granted. It’s so simple to get caught up in the day-to-day of working, paying bills and surviving that we neglect to stop, even if only for a moment, and appreciate all that our life really is.
I have two incredible sons, with distinctly different personalities, that surprise me from one day to the next as they show me who they are growing up to be. I have a job that I love, that I am very fortunate to have and that has the potential to evolve into something I cannot imagine. I have a dog who adores me, a house to live in, a car to drive and enough money to pay the bills and buy groceries. I have friends and family who love me and would come in a second if I were to call. I live a good life and I try hard to stay in the moment and be thankful and grateful for it all.
If there is one thing I take for granted consistently, it is the place in which I live. The Pacific Northwest. Oregon. Portland, to be precise. It rains often, is overcast frequently, and is cold more often than hot, but there is something really extraordinary, to me, about living here.
We have mountains, the ocean, lakes, rivers, and streams within a short distance. We have hiking, biking and running trails. We have a city full of artists, who have vision and commitment to what they believe in. And while I’ve lived in more culturally diverse cities, what Portland lacks in diverse nationalities it makes up for in diverse personalities. Why else would the city’s underground (but freely publicized) motto be “Keep Portland Weird.”
We have more strip clubs, per capita, than any other city in the United States. (No, I’m not proud of that one, but it does make us unique). We have more microbreweries within the city limits than any other city in the world. (If you like beer, you should really visit Portland). We have the smallest city park (2.5 feet in diameter) and the largest urban wilderness (5000 square acres) within a cities limits in this country.
We have no sales tax, (if it says it’s $2.87, it’s $2.87 dammit!), but we have outrageous property and income taxes. We are one of the greenest and cleanest cities in the country and come in second for cities that promote and practice bicycle commuting, (even though it rains what feels like 9 months out of the year!) Food carts are a way of life here, not just a passing fancy and it’s against the law for you to pump your own gas in Oregon. I happen to like that.
While I get tired of the rain, I have lived here longer than I’ve ever lived anywhere in my life. I am the child of gypsies. Educated gypsies, but gypsies none-the-less. It is only because I did not want my children to live the life of changing schools, sometimes twice a year, that I experienced growing up that I’ve been here as long as I have. I’m grateful for that because it has given me the time to appreciate Portland for what it is. An outdoor friendly city with a kind of weird, slightly funky, artistic vibe.
In 6 ½ years both of my children will be grown and out of my house. I will be free to leave this place if I so choose. And I will choose to do just that. My dream for that time in my life involves leaving the country and living in Italy for at least a year. I don’t doubt that it will happen, even if I can’t quite wrap my head around the small details and fine print.
I do know, however, that I cannot fool myself into thinking I will not miss Portland. This city has placed an indelible mark on me and though I am sure to leave, I am just as sure to return. I love Portland.
Have a wonderful weekend people!