Portland–home is where the heart is

Re-acclimating to Portland, Oregon and America continues. Actually, the acclimation part ended quite quickly and with a whimper. A year’s absence is not a lot on a person’s life timeline.

I do find myself falling deeper and deeper in love with Portland. I’ve been marveling at the richness of the coffee shops that abound in this city. It’s cool to find a coffee shop with bike racks on the wall for cycling enthusiasts who want to download their own version of java.

There seems to be a new drinking culture brewing (pardon the pun) in Portland, too. Cider is on the cusp of becoming something big. I had visited a cider house in the Columbia River town of Hood River with a friend before I left for Europe last November. I’m finding out now just how popular it’s becoming with cider houses popping up all over. Since I’m not a big beer drinker, cider seems to be right down my alley.

The job search has been very enlightening. I am continually amazed at the attitude of Portlanders, be they newcomers or natives. The number of out-of-towners I’ve met has been striking. I’m a native and I’ve never met so many people here in Oregon from somewhere else.

Oregon has been known for more than forty years for supposedly being anti-out-of-stater. I’ve always felt that the sentiment is played up for the media’s purpose of attracting ratings. Few are so insular and narrow-minded that they actually hate people moving here. In the past, out-of-towners had been reluctant to admit they relocated from somewhere else because of this supposed animosity.

That doesn’t seem to be the case now. I’ve met people from virtually all over and the newbies are enthusiastic about sharing their previous location. Arizona, California, New Jersey, Utah, Washington, people are coming from everywhere. The saleswoman in the furniture store was from New Zealand. Some are natives returning home. Others originate from someplace else. There doesn’t seem to be that head-hanging embarrassment about being a newcomer. Good!

Virtually everyone I’ve spoken to has been not only supportive, but enthusiastic and even forthcoming with ideas on where to look, companies to contact, etc. The collaborative spirit must originate in the air or the water because it comes from everyone. Either that or Portland attracts a unique individual who eschews a rat race work ethic.

It tells me that there is something special about Portland. And one of those things, I truly believe, is this same collaborative spirit. It isn’t a dog-eat-dog mentality that exists in many larger metropolises. Perhaps it’s because we don’t have the huge multi-national corporations here. Perhaps that’s why we don’t have the huge multi-national corporations here.

Collaboration, in my humble opinion, means sharing knowledge and talents with others who also want to progress. It means directing strangers or newly-made friends or colleagues to a person or organization that can help them. It doesn’t mean distancing yourself from someone who is bright and talented because they might be your competition. That bright and talented person might someday return the favor–several times over.

I’d also forgotten how friendly everyone is. It’s very refreshing to have drivers wave me across an intersection as a pedestrian or allow me to cut in during rush hour. In Italy pedestrians are seen as bowling pins.

What I’m probably loving the most is the beauty of this city. It’s no secret that for a couple of weeks we’ve been struggling through rains of Noahic proportions. Flooding, landslides and sinkholes have been the order of the day.

But you know what? I’m loving this rain. Around January and February of this year I experienced a substantial amount of rain while I lived on Central Italy’s Adriatic coast. But mostly it was sunny. And constant sunshine is boring.

Now, I’m back in moss-land. I was marveling at the heavy cloud cover one day, how it hugged the hillsides. I just allowed my mind to wander and consider what Creation must have been like.

Rain cleanses the air and there’s nothing cozier than snuggling on the couch watching holiday specials with an overflowing bowl of popcorn while it’s raining outside. Or sitting in a coffee shop enjoying a latte as the raindrops drip down the window. Or watching a storm brewing along the Oregon Coast, right before heading out for a bowl of the freshest clam chowder you can imagine.

I’m loving the drive through Portland neighborhoods. The grandeur of the restored homes is not lost on me–Old Portland, Craftsman, Victorian, they’re all there. Downtown Portland is highlighted with Christmas lights everywhere. Comfy local bistros, brew pubs and cafes are on every corner.

Downtown is peppered with parks and statuary. Serious runners maintain their regimen even in the dreary weather. The glistening glass of new towers complement wonderfully the ornate wrought-iron facades of nineteenth century buildings. Watching the trolley or light rail trains glide down the street reminds me of my Italian experience. And free of graffiti, our transit system sometimes eclipses some of the European trains.

I’m anticipating already when spring arrives with its new growth, slowly pushing out the barrenness of winter. It will be time to join local wineries. Time to go wine tasting. Time to find new bistros that have opened. Time to drive through the countryside and be swept away by the beauty of lavender farms, vineyards and roadside stands featuring tasty local produce.

I guess my heart really is here. Much as I adore Italy and it’s glories. This is home.



4 thoughts on “Portland–home is where the heart is

  1. Even though Texas is home for us now, this made me realize, once again, how much I miss Oregon. Thank you, once again, for another great post, my friend. I’ve started with your newest one and am working my way backward reading them.

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