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Making pancakes, as I learned at AP's birthday bash at the beach this weekend, is an unbelievably tedious chore. I don't know why I...

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Welcome to Fantasy Island

Just down the street from my house, there is an old gas station. It's one of those tiny little two-pump stations with a tiny awning hanging over the concrete pumping station. The pumps no longer stand waiting to service motorists, and if you are expecting someone to come out of the station and clean your windows, you'll have a long wait.

The old gas station has been turned into a "Food Mart". Colored flags stream in rows from the roof and are pegged into the crusty ground at 90 degree angles. Bright posters advertising international calling cards clutter the windows. Fried potatoes and greasy chicken legs are displayed under a heat lamp next to the cash register. I keep thinking they should turn the old gas station into a Dean & Deluca store.

Lately I have been seriously questioning life in general. I've been asking myself a lot of questions about where I am headed. If I were to assemble a list of the "Frequently Asked Questions" I ponder, the list would begin with, "What the Fuck Are You Doing in Portland, Oregon?"

Don't get me wrong. I love Portland. It is the first place I've ever lived that wasn't chosen for me. I grew up in Missouri, went to college in Kentucky, and I took my first professional job in Washington, DC. But I chose the city of Portland, Oregon and moved here sight unseen and with no job lined up. Portland called to me, and I answered.

I always thought I would end up in New York City, or maybe The Second City. Growing up in suburban Kansas City, I always dreamed of traveling to amazing metropolitan centers of culture and finance. It wasn't until I entered college that I truly got a chance to explore. Who knew that my little college town of Wilmore, Kentucky would open up doors to the world. I studied at La Sorbonne in Paris for a summer term and pretended to be French as I sipped my cafe in the Latin Quarter before classes. I went with a college filmmaking crew to Kenya and experienced safaris and tea plantations and the brightest moon I have ever seen in my life. Shortly after college, I experienced the wonders of Stockholm, Oslo, Helsinki and Copenhagen as I toured with a brass band.

As a result of all I saw and experienced, I decided that I was supposed to be an incredibly cultured resident of the world, and I sought to extinguish any trace of my Midwestern ideals. I banned country music from my collection. I stopped eating chipped beef on toast (SOS, as we called it at home) and started drinking wine and eating hummus. New Year's Eve was reserved for fabulous parties instead of standing on the back porch banging pots and pans with a wooden spoon at midnight.

Yet, somehow, I ended up living with a boy who grew up on a cattle ranch, and I drink Pabst Blue Ribbon and listen to country music on my back porch at night as the crickets chirp beneath the clusters of pine trees in our backyard. Where is my loft? Why am I sipping whiskey out of a juice glass instead of cradling a cosmopolitan at a gallery opening in SoHo? How come I can only experience the joys of happy hour at a Midtown bar when Michael Vernon is feeling charitable and calls me so I can listen in on the fun?

If I lived in New York, maybe I would blog about how much I miss the green, green grass of home in my rainy little Oregon town. I would reminisce about Mount Hood and Mount Saint Helen's standing proudly and overlooking our two rivers. I'd wish for a weekend at The Executive's beach house on the dramatic rocky Oregon coast. I would yearn for day trips to Seattle or a lazy afternoon mingling with the granola-munching patchouli hippies of Hawthorne Boulevard. Maybe I would even miss that old gas station, but chances are I'd be too busy arranging the catering for the housewarming party in my loft to give those crickets a second thought.

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