Portland? So cold, dark and wet.

That might sound sexier than it is….

Back when I was an undergraduate, when nobody much paid any attention to Portland, Oregon, and somehow got the place confused with Portland, Maine (tiny!) when we all wore old 501’s with long johns underneath, when we wore flannels and drank cheap beer and rode bikes and that wasn’t codified yet into the marketing of “hipster”-dom, but came from a genuine place of resisting consumerism, resisting Hollywood images of what it means to be human, back when we were inadvertently paving the way for what was later called then packaged as grunge, but had an organic root in climate and politics….back then, I had some reason to stop by the apartment of a woman I barely knew. She was from Columbia. She’d come to Portland to go to PSU and had an apartment downtown.

I had to pick something up.

Something? Columbia? I know what you’re thinking…

I stepped into her apartment. She was barely dressed, with long, brown legs and a tiny silk camisole. I was in maybe six layers of cottons, all shades of black, and had a bike chained to a wet stop sign down on the street. She was in florals. Her apartment was so hot, it was insane. It was an old building, too. I always lived in cold houses, drafty places. She probably spent more on a month’s heat than I paid in rent.

I thought of her now, this week, as I stepped off the plane from Maui and walked back into Portland’s cold, wet streets. She wasn’t crazy. She was homesick. I get it. I’m from this cold, dark place, but still, I understand. back from maui


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