Reviews & Comments
Portland, ORHave loved it and hated it Posted On: 10/28/2012 8:41:53 PM
Why live here? Well, because there are many good things. Downtown is small, but it is probably the safest of the many, many cities I've seen in the U.S. The urban decay of the rust belt where I grew up is absent.
I love the outdoors. I camp, hike and ski a lot. Had only one weekend at home this summer. We have an enormous back yard in the endless national and state forests (about 1/3 of this state is public land including the beaches - they belong to the people). No one will try to convert you to their way of thinking (though this is good - it's because they're completely disinterested).
Our son has grown up here. He is in love and will probably marry his long time girlfriend and have children in the near future. I will stay here to be near he and his family.
Why not live here? My story isn't the whole story, but that's all I've got. I moved here 16 years ago. I expected an adjustment period; that's normal. What I didn't expect was that all the surface niceties displayed while vacationing here did not speak to the challenges of acceptance here. Being a well-rounded open-minded person hinders this. Though I have friends, it took years to develop them.
Having lived in south Florida where everyone is from somewhere else, the diversity was accepted by most of us and was pretty cool. It was fun exploring our differences.
In Portland, most everyone is from somewhere else, but the cliquishness is nearly impenetrable. Well-rounded does not fit a specific enough demographic. Your choices to fit in here are: Latte sucking yuppie; hippie; earth child; sports loving Mormon; Christian hip; 4-wheeling redneck; or atheist intellectual. Being anything else or some a la carte combination of these standards presents an enigma to Portlanders. If they can't figure you out within narrowly pegged confines, you're just too perplexing. The lack of curiosity as concerns diversity is perplexing to me. Maybe it shouldn't be - it is soooo white here.
There is little racial or ethnic diversity. I'm a dark complected Irish-German-Native American hybrid. I'm oddly exotic to the white people here (and most are oh so white). Countless times, I've encountered strangers at the hair salon or the grocery store who want to play 'let me guess your ancestry'.
The political demographic is very liberal and that suits me. It's socially liberal, too - and that's acceptable - though I've been sometimes amazed at the assumption that everyone is promiscuous - I'm not (married for many years).
The workplace is passive-aggressively competitive. You will be talked about, but you will rarely have a chance to communicate because no one is assertive enough to talk to you. I can only guess that life on the historic end of the trail was ridiculously individualistic and competitive. I don't know.
Most people earn very low wages and the housing costs are high. That doesn't stop $15/hr earners from going to the spa at least once a month or sucking down $5 lattes every day. Keeping up with the Joneses is alive and well here.
The traffic is ridiculous and it's foolhardy not to widen the interstates and improve the infrastructure. Public transportation is heralded as some great accomplishment, but the folks I work with who ride the trains have some pretty gnarly tales to tell about disgusting, violent and extremely nasty behavior on their daily commute. Most of them have to drive and take the trains. They don't do it for clean air. They do it because parking downtown runs $12 a day. The trains go only straight lines: one east and west and one north and south. Those who don't have a car usually can't afford one because wages are so low.
It rains from the end of October until typically the 4th of July - nearly every day - usually a slow all day drizzle. But when the sun shines, it's a joyous place to be; the beauty is astounding. And you can see the mountain - Mt. Hood.
Well, that's how I see it. But everyone's experience is their own. Live your life. If nothing else - I've experienced it and have had an adventure. I've learned and grown. And I have a lot of fun playing in the woods. I think I'll like it better when I retire - a little place near Mt. Hood maybe and Portland when I need to shop.