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Thursday, September 16, 2004

An Open Letter to Portland, Oregon

For Corin...because he asked.

Dear Portland, Oregon:

Isn't it weird the way I fell in love with you? I remember when I lived in Dallas, Texas with CT, and we were trying to decide where we should move. We talked about Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, Santa Fe...

You weren't even in the running, Portland. Then I picked up this book about great cities in which to live, and, Portland, your chapter just called to me. So, after a surprisingly short discussion, CT and I decided to give you a chance. Without ever having seen your face, I came to you because I just knew it was what I was supposed to do.

CT and I moved into The Frank Estate, which was a beautiful old estate that had been transformed into an apartment community. I remember driving into the estate with the windows down that August afternoon. I was immediately struck by your fragrance, Portland. You may no longer be an actual rainforest, but you still smell clean and fresh and lush. Such a welcome relief from the concrete, dry, humid smell of Dallas.

I've never lived in a city like you, Portland. In addition to your surrounding rivers, The Columbia and The Willamette, I also love seeing Mount Hood in the distance. Granted, you hide the mountain from us most days, but when the sun comes out I feel like a child as I point with glee and say to anyone who may be near me, "Look at the mountain today!"

Portland, you brought tears to my eyes the first time I saw Pioneer Courthouse Square. I even whispered to myself, "I'm home..." because I'd never before lived in a city with a "living room" for her citizens. Here we can lounge for hours as we watch the human circus and participate as much or as little as we choose. Thank you for the free concerts and special events we can enjoy here, especially Sand in the City, the sand sculpture competition.

Portland, as much as I love your great transit system, proximity to the ocean and mountains, and laid back energy, you have a few things to work on. I hope I've been living here long enough to be honest with you. You're kind of lazy.

Sometimes I cheat on you in my mind, Portland. I think about New York City and how exciting she is. I could easily find a hundred things to do after midnight if I lived in New York. Why can't you be more like her? Maybe it's because you give us so much rain, and it makes everyone want to cuddle with a loved one at home rather than venture out. Maybe everybody is too busy smoking pot to get out and mingle.

And while we're at it, where's your diversity? I love mixing with people of all races and nationalities, but you're just so damn white, Portland. The Handsome Prince and I always comment on how great it is to live in a truly diverse neighborhood, but it would be nice to have more variety city-wide, not just in specific neighborhoods.

I know I shouldn't complain. As beautiful as Oregon is, you are a rare gem of progressive liberals amongst a state of conservative, um...scary people. Portland, I hope that your influence spreads throughout the state, because some of us are facing horrible discrimination. Thankfully, you encourage all of us in your fair city to become involved and express our views. Maybe it is because you are a city of writers, artists, thinkers, political activists and innovators.

I love you, Portland. I should let you know this more often.

Hot Toddy

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