Bringing Portland With Me


Portland, OR ::
So this is unexpected.

Since moving to Portland in 2005 I have scrupulously avoided adopting certain styles and customs that might imply a desire to follow local conventions. The three characteristics that might identify me as a Portlander I have had since Fresno, which is the anti-Portland: beard, iBook, chunky glasses. While I do occasionally drink Pabst, in the last four years I have just said no to faux hawks, messenger bags, skinny jeans (this was best for everybody), The Smiths t-shirts, chains, sleeve tattoos, fedoras, Chuck Taylors, and mud wrestling. I have nothing against these things on principle – some of my best friends have flesh tunnels, ride fixies, go to pirate-themed parties, and are more likely to listen to Arcade Fire than, say, Willie Nelson. It’s just that I have this one particular neurosis: I can’t be perceived (and it is all about the perception) to be conforming. Accept me or don’t accept me, I’ll still wear my flip-flops and cargo shorts and brown t-shirt from the sushi bar in Chico. I’ll listen to Willie Nelson and ride my 21-gear bike.

It’s gross. I know.

But something interesting is happening. Now that Kate and I are leaving the city for a time, I have a strong desire to be recognized as a Portlander when we travel to Lincoln, Nebraska, and Dallas, Texas, and rural Mississippi, and Portland, Maine and everywhere in between. I want to go out and get t-shirts from all my favorite coffee shops, and plaster bumper stickers that say “People’s Republic of Portland” and “Powell’s Books” and “Support Native Oregon Beer (SNOB)” on my laptop. Tomorrow I am going to pick out new glasses and I am seriously (seriously) considering getting some of those oversized black glasses like Elvis Costello wore on the cover of This Year’s Model – Costello and the guy who used to work at the Belmont Stumptown.

Kate and I have spent a lot of the last 20 months planning ways to get out of the city. Now that we’re leaving, I want to bring it with me. Is that called home?


6 comments on “Bringing Portland With Me

  1. Mud wrestling? Really? Am I that far out of the loop?

  2. I have totally had the same thought about myself, if I move, I want people to know I love Portland. I’ve decided that if we move to Washington I’ll get Oregon and Portland bumper stickers. It’s weird. It’s like being a teenager and wanting everyone to know you listen to the cool music.

  3. Yes, Sarah, that’s exactly it. It came as a surprise though because, for the last few years, I didn’t want to publicize that I liked the cool music too.

    My parents will say that I’ve always been this way. That if somebody told me to do one thing, I would go out and do the exact opposite. It isn’t rebellion, per se; it is less romantic – it’s nonconformist, or contrarianism.

    And while I am secretly proud of this particular characteristic, I also can point to time after time when doing things my own way, dammit, caused nothing but trouble.

  4. Even though we have been gone for 3 years, I totally get all puffed up and proud in my heart when I tell people we lived in Portland for a year. I get it. I think it does say something about home… Or maybe just something wierd about my heart.

  5. For the past few years I’ve, a) Worn Western shirts, b) Worn a beard, c) drank (drunk?) PBR and, d) sported New Balance. I must admit that I’m a little upset to now be a Portland clone when all I am being is myself. You know what that means–every hipster in Portland must shave, toss out their shirts, ditch those sneakers and lay off the Pabst. They’re mine!

  6. is that called home? yes.

    please turn molly into a little mini-hipster and when you bring her back someday, she’ll feel right at home.

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