Inspired by The Book of Awakening daily reading on July 8, 2014 entitled Moments, Not Words.
When I think about a way to sum up my stay in Portland, I can’t think of any one place or thing that stands out. The entire summer has been incredible but there are a few moments that come to mind. There have been times when I’m talking to a friend or walking about and I stop to think, “This is delightful. I’m really happy right now”. It would be too daunting to read each of my experiences but a quick rundown is in order to give you a better sense of life in Rose City. Things I’ve done: Reggae, roots and Ethiopian music shows at Alhambra Theater, a comedy show at Hollywood Theater, Pedalpalooza rides that filled the month of June, sunsets at Skidmore Bluffs and Rocky Butte, Fourth of July fireworks on a boat in the Willamette, High Rocks watering hole, Sauvie Island girls’ day trip, reading (and sometimes napping) in the parks filled with sweet scents and tall evergreen trees, early morning World Cup soccer watching at the pub, finding a new favorite grocery in New Seasons, Powell’s, house sitting at cool homes for even cooler people, a birthday party at the park for my nephew with a 3-tiered chocolate and peanut butter cake we transported by bike, sipping tereré (the Paraguayan iced version of yerba maté) with friends, single-origin chocolate tastings around town, and countless coffees and brunches. None of this would have been possible without the care and support of my brother who moved here 17 years ago and always encouraged me to join him. I feel confident to now call Portland my west coast home. During a recent comedy show, Jerrod Carmichael claimed he loved Portland but didn’t really understand what goes on here. “It’s like you guys are just one big non-profit” he said and the audience roared with laughter. He’s right.
The other day, I was describing a place to visit on an off-night when we didn’t have much else going on. I mentioned that this hip spot was a bike shop slash cafe slash bar slash art gallery slash event space. It’s called Velo Cult. It made no sense to my friends. But we all later agreed that in Portland, this place makes sense. After an afternoon of the best pizza in town and yoga in the park, we rode to Velo Cult for some chill out time. The first thing my friend said to me when we walked in was how anyone who comes to Portland should go to this place. It is a mainstay. In her eyes, she just walked into the coolest place in town. And I agreed. The only thing missing was a library. Then, the books appeared. A small group of books about bikes was sitting at the main table in the middle of the room. As we sipped our drinks, we browsed through books about the world’s best rides and made a short bucket list for our 10-year plans. As we were leaving, a man was browsing the shop and taking photos. As he approached our table, he mentioned he just arrived from Vancouver BC and needed his bike repaired. Velo Cult was his first stop. He proclaimed he felt like he arrived at — wait for it — the coolest place in town. We all agreed. It’s not that other cities aren’t cool or hip too, it just feels like it’s encouraged behavior here and you are given the space to express yourself freely.
That moment stood out to me. I walked away thinking that this was the coolest city and I made the right choice in coming back. Bridgetown, Stumptown, Rip City, whatever you call it, is made for people like me who crave creativity, expression, and not a overwhelmingly big-city feel. Cool things happen here.
(photo by Isaac Spedding)