We woke up one morning last week at Cannon Beach, drove up to the coast in Seaside, then headed to Portland to see our apartment.
On the way in we caught the Hillsboro air show. Military pilots were showing off their aerobatics next to the highway.
All was great until we pulled off of the highway to see the only available apartment that would take a doberman in the greater Portland area.
See, being as it is Oregon and we’d just spent the past few days staying at homesteads and camping on beaches and sightseeing all of the local character and making friends at every turn, we had a certain expectation about what our living situation would be. We were expecting it to be a little weird. We were expecting the local culture to be more laid back and west coastish. We were expecting lots of new shops and new household names and new cultural norms.
Imagine our surprise when we pulled off of the highway to a sea of consumerism at its worst. Every chain restaurant and grocery store and department store were all lined up in a perfect little row on each side of a congested street. The apartments we are living in look identical to the apartment complex next door, which are identical to the apartments next door to them. For this we could have stayed in Dallas.
We opened our front door to find a white box with white carpet and white appliances and white ceilings and white walls and white doors and white blinds and white cabinets and white floors. A glaring picture of antiseptic vanilla everywhere you turn. Outside on the grounds all is planted to match and manicured perfectly. All of the trees are the exact same kind and exact same height. All of the perfectly laid mulch is the exact same width from one plant to the next. All of the bushes are cut in exact squares. All of the plants match in type, height and width too.
Where had the fun, quarky Oregon gone? Where were the local mom and pop shops? Where was the charm and the redwood floors and the window seats and the hydrangea bushes and the rain chains?
This is not quite the picture I had in my head.
So far Oregon is great, but the location we have chosen to start out here is lousy. This place is for young business executives with no soul and blank personalities with no ambition. It’s where bad traffic and bad moods go to latch on to unsuspecting victims. Where people believe the way to be happy is to buy more stuff. Where status and matching coffee cups matter more than human interaction and creativity. Where a required $25/month trash valet saves you the trouble of walking your rubbish to the dumpster yourself. Heaven forbid you be seen doing something so lowly! This place is offensive and boring and…and synchronized pretension! That’s what it is! Antiseptic vanilla synchronized pretension!
It’s an adjustment for everyone. The dogs are adjusting from a yard full of squirrels and a doggie door that leads to a 2,000 sqft house to a 700 sqft apartment, no barking privileges and no access to the squirrels outside…should one gain a permit to enter the conspicuously kept grounds.
BUT, to find the positive, the location is great. We are walking distance to a park with redwood trees and grassy knolls (with only soft golf course grass of course). We are down the street from every store we could ever need. We are across the parking lot from one of the community pools and the mailboxes. We are down the street from a daily open air market. We are 10 minutes from downtown Portland. I am three miles from my job at Company X. We are three turns and two streets from the nearest dog park. We are in Oregon – we made it and we are officially here.
I decided if I can’t find the weird Oregon in my surroundings, I will bring the weird to me. My first order of business was to buy an eggplant purple living room set from Craig’s List. That’s right folks. Have a look.
Then I bought a bike. Because you have to have a bike here. It’s too beautiful and bike friendly to not have one. Now I just need the stamina to pedal for more than a half mile.
Then I found the local university surplus store which I will hit up for unique book shelves next week.
I set out to the grocery store and was not disappointed. The produce section alone baffled me. Can anyone tell me what this is?
Then I discovered WinCo. If any of you live locally and were at Winco last night and saw a woman wandering through the bulk section exclaiming things like “I love this place!” and “Would you look at this?!” to random strangers and “That’s it, I’m just going to move my stuff right here” that was me. I love a good bulk section, and this place had it all. Bulk dog treats. Bulk granola. Bulk cheese powder. Bulk smoked paprika. Bulk coffee. Bulk candy corn. Bulk almond flour. Bulk…..everything really.
And you guys. Tillamook makes more than two kinds of cheese. Tillamook makes sour cream and ice cream and many varieties of cheese.
And the fish! I can’t even name all (or recognize) all the kinds of fish I’ve seen.
This is not to mention my discovery of the local New Seasons Market, one of countless competitors to Whole Foods here that I can make it to with my half mile bike peddling stamina.
I live in a foodie paradise. And I am good with that.
It didn’t start out so great, but this place is ok. It’s not that weird, but it will do for the first ten months.