Portland

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Teary

My visit to Portland. I never thought I would return – a twofold fear of the BIG one and the notion of visiting a city I would no longer know. A city that is no longer mine.

But I did it, without a moment’s hesitation. For Solveig, my daughter from another mother and her sweet kids. The family not born but built with infinite love.

And I kept crying. At the Eastern Oregon wrinkle of rivers, I cried. At Mount Hood towering beautifully over the forest, as it has for eons, beacon of the eastern skyline, I cried. Just about everywhere. Walking, eating, driving – snaking up and up the magical 20th-21st southeast to northeast ribbon, crawling past Alameda, Elliot Smith singing along. And me lamenting my latent appreciation. Better late than never.

Why the tears? Why so many? I never experienced such overwhelm when returning to Arvada, home of my youth. I realized that is precisely it. Portland is the birthplace of my adulthood, our FIRST house. Place where I learned to plant, to love plunging my hands in soil to witness the miracle of shoots turning to leaves, to plants, to boisterous blossoms. Even trees!

It is the place where my sense of self turned from liquid to solid, or at least the appearance of it, a slow moving slab of glittering glass.

Where I decided on friends, realizing I am worth kindness, not snark, open hands and hearts, worth goodness and the very best in people. Honesty and accountability. LOVE.

Where my politics and lofty dreams rooted, deep and sequoia strong. Be NICE. Don’t be a doormat. And as I wandered, I suppose my unconscious remembered before I did, saw the places where the first seeds were planted. Odd corners and unpaved roads of one great and glorious city.

And so the tears and sobs. Heaps and tons.

And hugs, conversation, blessed quiet, with the dearest people of my past and present, almost like I never left, but with it hanging in the air. The sweetest start of a soft storm, soaking me through, puddle jumping, LAUGHING, to myself and Portland, a city that remains very much mine.

 

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A dear friend lives here! We ate and talked and enjoyed Fifty Licks of ice cream. The time whooshed and the sky turned starry.

Luna graduated from preschool!

Aloha!

Lucky to have had these fine folks as my Portland neighbors. It was like I never left.

Zoran likes workbooks. His Mama does, too.

Super Girl Heart Warrior

picnic in a box

Much beloved Portland rain, tumbling down just for me. Or so I like to think.

Kill your television?

As I was short on time and long on activities, I didn’t make a visit to my favorite bridge in the world, so imagine my delight when the plane home gave me this view.

And then this one of THE old neighborhood! I walked and biked and drove every one of these streets in happiness and sheer joy, sometimes in tears, always in gratitude.

Can you see the plane shadow surrounded by a rainbow? It was much, much clearer when first I spied it but wasn’t quick enough to capture. But still, how cool?

Denver! Almost home…

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Direction: Northwest!!

Hood * Jefferson * Three Sisters

And Mt. Hood, all by its lonesome.

The most wonderful reasons for my return to Portland! Solveig’s little Luna had her third, and we sure hope final, open heart surgery, the Fontan. Our girl (now age five!) is a true heart warrior, having the strength to come home from the hospital a mere week after surgery. While she isn’t 100% and we need to be careful not to bump or jostle her, the strides she’s making are really quite remarkable. Her baby brother, Zoran, has grown by leaps and bounds since we last cuddled and bounced, with an adorable personality to match. I love them all so much!

Most of my time alone was spent sleeping and wandering the city for old haunts and memories. I am super happy to report that many remain. I was so afraid of a city so changed as to be unrecognizable.  Though there are differences (good gracious SE 50th Avenue!) there was much more that sent my heart galloping with glee.

Brown Lumber was one of our beloved local spots to buy supplies for our million and one home improvement projects. They have super customer service, but I liked their sign best:

WATCH OUT FOR THE POST WHEN BACKING UP

POST 111

TRUCKS 0

Gets me every time…

At the zoo…

Southeast Portland gets its Bushwick on, fabulous mural style.

 GUN not GONE

Never was, never will be.

Tofu makes my body wanna DIE, but I’m happy to see this old Portland business is still plugging along.

One of my favorite Portland peeps (Hi Susan!) with some of my favorite food:

the cocktel del pulpo at Tacqueria Nueve!

Southbound Number 75

I shall never tire of this view

Or this one!

More to come…

 

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You may be wondering if this is going to turn into a doggie blog. It might rabbit, it just might. Nah. That said, we are in serious doggie mode here. Our schedule has been upended, with us more regimented, rising earlier, so we can get at least an hour walk in every day, though Juniper sometimes behaves as though it’s only been fifteen minutes, darting around the yard like a race horse before deciding she is REALLY hungry and devouring her food in a minute flat. She’s energetic like that.

Our choice of books has been augmented to include everything dog, heavy on the Cesar Millan. We our doing our best to be calm-assertive pack leaders. She is doing her best to keep us guessing, well behaved dream doggie to a spazzy-zig-zaggy pup in the blink of an eye. She’s goofy like that.

But that’s not all I want to talk about, partially to prove that we are not all dog, all the time, and partially because it’s what is on my mind. I am pretty sure I have already mentioned this, but because I am human and rather fallible, I’m going to act like I didn’t. Part of what I love about Colorado Springs, besides its close proximity to near and dear ones and New Mexico, is that it reminds us of all the places we have ever lived.

Much like me, the hubster, and our new pup, our fair city is quirky, complete with a Keep Colorado Springs Lame bumper sticker. Our house is blocks away from a very Powell Boulevard-esque street. It is a five mile bike ride from downtown (though it would have been a treacherous one in Pittsburgh) in a very walkable city, for which we thank goodness, because we are going to cover every inch of it with our sweet Juniper Beulah. Palmer Park is almost equidistant as Mount Tabor was, complete with a snow capped mountain in the background! Capacious Red Rocks Park and Bear Creek serve as fine Forest Park and Frick Park stand-ins, swapping geologic wonders of granite and sandstone for dense woods and towering trees.

Though Portland reigns supreme in this category, we have some super organic food and grocers and stellar local restaurants. One of our favorites, insert spooky sound effect, even has the number 503 in its name. Whaaat?! Though it refers to an address, not the area code of our favorite rainy city. But still.

It is a collection of hills and dales and flat plains, coal mines slipped in and amongst a perfect grid and bowl of spaghetti collection of senseless winding streets, the best and the worst of East and West Side Portland and the whole of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

It is blue collar and higher ed, an hour from every beauty imaginable, save the stellar Oregon coast.

It is HOME, and we are so happy to be here.

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Farewell portraits of Portland, silly, fun, beautiful Portland. I do not miss the City of Roses. There is no ache in my bones for what lies behind, for what once was my house, my verdant patch of earth. The timing was right, and my body, in eager anticipation, pitches forward, smiling, arms outstretched for what will be home again.

Hello Pittsburgh, a small sweet slice of what lies ahead. Rivers and bridges and remnants of the steel industry that was. People as kindly as Portland’s, good food, and beauty everywhere. I shall be happy to call you home!

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