February 18, 2018
I am in another city! This is actually one I have wanted to visit for a long time: Portland, Oregon. I have some friends here who I hadn’t seen in a long time and I have always just heard good things about Portland. For example, one often hears it referred to as the Asheville of the West. Or possibly the reverse of that. Ha! But either way you put it, Asheville and Portland have many connections, not least of which is a sort of continuous stream of people moving from one to the other. I would join them if I could, I think, now that I have pretty much had it with the Portland of the East, but it’s too expensive for me here. Big shock! Everywhere is too expensive for me; I am a living fossil, a vague remnant from the Affordable Days (the 90s, I think they were called) when you could earn enough money to live on. Oh well! I don’t think I actually want to live in a real city again. I’m too old and I don’t have the energy and I did it already in a couple of little places you may have heard of, Manhattan and Baltimore.
So I have been in Portland about hmmmm 36 hours now. I am staying in an RV park on an island – although Portland is not on the coast. Which, okay, I wasn’t expecting: I had sort of vaguely assumed that if you have the word PORT in your name you have to be on the water. But noooo! Except yeeeesss! If you count a large river or two as the water, that is, then Portland indeed has a right to the word Port and in fact there are container ships and containers and across the river from where I am there is an industrial port looking thing that actually almost rivals Baltimore for sheer portishness. And there are trains and railroad bridges everywhere – indeed there are many bridges, which is all good with me, as I love bridges. I broke lucky on that one: somehow or other they are not one of my many fears and I even like driving over them.
But I have not seen much of Portland yet. I got here late on Friday after a not too bad drive from Nehalem – it was raining and I was nervous but it was fine, a twisty pretty road up and down the mountain through the trees with fortunately little traffic so I could go slow and look out for Sasquatch. Then yesterday, which was Saturday, I went over to my friends’ A & F’s house and did my laundry and had a delicious lunch and borrowed a ladder. Then I went to the other side of Portland and saw my other friends. My other friends are people I have known since they were tiny: children of my friends who have somehow or other over the past couple decades become adults who are now my friends in their own right. And one of them has just, as in two weeks ago, had a baby of her own! This is sort of mindblowing, really: I remember her at 18 months asleep on my stairs next to my son, who is exactly the same age, both of them with blankets and bottles. This time thing, it must be stopped. But they all live together in a rambling old house in a cool neighborhood and it took me back to when I hung out with their parents and we all lived in rambling old houses in cool neighborhoods with a bunch of people. Ah yes, I am too fucking old and bourgeoisie now, how did this happen and where did all the furniture come from?
So it was lovely to see them and I plan on seeing more of them, particularly since Ruby, who is a wonderful artist, has recently become a certified tattooist and therefore I am going to get me some more ink, now from someone who I have known literally since the day she was born. How cool is that? PRETTY GODDAMN COOL. So that has made me happy and we are going to add birds going up my arm to the one flying bird my friend Kitty Love, also from Baltimore by the way and another genius tattoo artist – there is a whole Baltimore connection to Portland too – put on my arm last summer. Herons, says Ruby, and I think yes, herons and more ravens and even seagulls, because I love them even if they are terrible trashy raucous birds.
Then today it is Sunday and all I have done is try to organize my photos a little better and go for a walk around the island. The RV park is right next to what could sort of be considered a trailer park except a) the trailers are so old they have evolved fully into actual houses and b) pretty goddamn nice houses at that! For all I have said about cities I would move into one in a heartbeat. In fact when I saw that there were two for sale I got all excited and checked Zillow only to find that you have to buy the house, yes, and it would be in my price range, yes – and then you have to pay $900 a month in RENT for the land underneath your house. Yikezors. I will not thus be buying one although I am sort of sad about that because they are super, super cute and some are right on the river with fabulous decks and amazing views. And large but fortunately quite friendly geese.
I am also experiencing Winter. There was supposed to be snow today but if there was I missed it. It has rained, though, long and hard and much, and there were dire warnings about ice on all these scenic bridges, so I didn’t venture anywhere. It is supposed to dip into the 20s tonight and stay there on and off for a week or so. I have been feeling guilty about missing the worst winter in living memory in Asheville (and, to be completely honest, a little jealous, I lived there for seventeen entire years and the fucking river never ever froze while I was there to take pictures of it) so it’s good that I get to do some ice and cold stuff here in Portland to make up for it. Although I actually will be completely happy if it doesn’t really get too bad and the river does not freeze. The new heater I bought in Newport is a BIG HELP but still it is cold and damp and there is definitely at least one leak going on. Hence the ladder, which you remember from such paragraphs as the third one. As I said on Twitter in a sadly underappreciated joke, if you spend any time in an RV in Oregon you can totally understand why they’re so popular in Arizona.
Anyway, I am going to be here for a while, like, probably two weeks. This serves several purposes: I get more tattoos, winter hopefully loses its grip on the mountains to the east that I will be crossing in March and I get some city sorta things done like an oil change and check up for the truck. And Powells, be still my heart, and galleries and museums and possibly even some new Crocs. So if you live here and you want to tell me things I MUST see while I am here or even accompany me to said things and/or drinkses, shoot me an email!