I'm de-boarding the train at Portland Union Station. Portland, Oregon. A city I had been to only once before, on the train trip that brought me to San Francisco. Portland seemed like an agreeable enough place in the four days I spent in June of 2000, but hey, I was moving to San Francisco, Best City In The World!
Now ten months later I'm back in Portland. The Bay Area Living "experiment" didn't turn out that well and rather than "rough it" I escaped. I may have been defeated but I wasn't going to return to Connecticut with my tail between my legs, to return to "Oh you're back? We knew you would be back." But where to go?
I wanted to stay on the West Coast, for sure. But Seattle seemed played out. Los Angeles was Los Angeles. The only other serious candidate was Portland. It was still relatively inexpensive (for a West Coast city). But I didn't know much about the town. (It's difficult to remember the days when Portland was an unknown quantity, back before it became the poster child of livability and before the New York Times wrote about it every week.) Four days gives an impression, but not much of one. I knew that it was a haven for zinesters and cartoonists. It had Reading Frenzy and the IPRC, and would soon have its first Zine Symposium. As I defined myself as both a zinester and a cartoonist (these were the most important things to me back then), these were good things. Oh yeah, I heard people liked to bicycle in Portland. Maybe I could finally try my hand at being a bike commuter?
When I got off the train that morning, April 4, 2001, I was greeted to blue skies. So much for all that rain Portland's known for, I thought to myself. And under my breath I said to myself "here goes nothing!" I had no idea how long I would stay in Portland. A year? Maybe two? I just knew that I was going to put my best foot forward, and experience the place to its fullest.
Ten years have flown by. There have been lots of ups and downs, but the ups outweigh the downs. It's been the most interesting, most exciting decade of my life. I've learned a lot about myself, my town, my world. I've accomplished things I would have never thought possible in 2000, like bicycle touring. I've got a great group of friends, and most importantly found the love of my life.
Ten years later, there's no other place I'd want to be. Here's to another decade!