Yes, to all you Portlanders out there, this one is about our city! Its also got an extremely cheesy title, so forgive me.
I just finished reading a number of posts by a new friend Dani on her blog, Nuclear Anagram (you should check it out! http://nuclearanagram.wordpress.com/) I loved the way that her blogs seemed to tell a story. Even though they jump through little bubbles of space or time, I felt as though each of her blogs painted imagery in my head of sunlight or darkness, strangers and travel. I loved that idea so much.. the transplanting of memories remembered into my mind, rustling up little inklings of familiarity and recognition. I honestly think it took me too long to write my last blog post partially because it was so technical. I’m much better at feeling.
Portland was a place I thought I would live in for a short time on my way out of Maine. I planned for months to move to New York City next, or contemplated moving out to a couple of cities where I knew there were fellow activists. I never planned to stay here longer than six months, and now I marvel at how quickly time has passed. It has been almost two years now since I moved into a dingy, overly expensive studio apartment on Congress Street-what many people referred to as the pulse of Portland. I was broke back then, barely making it on minimum wage. But I was also broke in so many other ways.
Its taken me a while to even partially understand where I was back then. I had dropped out of college, which actually felt surprisingly good for the most part. But I had also lost almost everyone close to me in one way or another, feeling alone, feeling confused and depressed. I didn’t realize the extent to which my emotional well being had been damaged by manipulation from some of those close to me.. friends, lovers, friends who wanted more than I wanted to give. I just knew that I felt trapped.
Some part of me wanted to find comfort by finding a replacement for these people. A new connection, a best friend. But I think a larger part of me sought out those whom I really couldn’t get close too, and who didn’t want to get close to me. I craved distance, and non-commitment. I wanted the opportunity to escape should I decide too. I didn’t want roots.
Don’t get me wrong, I found some of the most wonderful people in that time.. people that I owe a lot too for showing me new experiences and places and emotions. But my walls were still so high at that time, I felt I only shared bits of my self in rare moments.. especially late at night. I was searching for something.
Somehow, slowly but surely.. Portland began to break down those walls for me. It was a few folks I met while planning a rally for May Day asking me to this What Cheer? Brigade show in an old warehouse by the Amtrak station, telling me I was spending too much time working. It was another acquaintance offering to let me stay in his house when I didn’t have an apartment for a week. It was someone else being silly and chalking all over the place, which made me nervous at first but than excited. It was meeting strangers, and then their families, who treated me like they had known me for the longest time. It was a good friend who asked me why I let people disrespect me, who shared their secrets and jokes.
It was a Community Center that allowed me to seek sanctuary in my passions when I needed it most. Who introduced me to almost every single close friend I have now. It was a park that needed saving, and brought together the most diverse groups to do so. It was a housing coopertive, streets artists who busked, and poets who actually shared their work on a microphone.
These things might not seem so unique to Portland, or perhaps some of them do. But there was../is something different about this city than others that I have visited. It is able to hold me close enough where I feel comforted, and yet far enough that I don’t have to feel like running. I feel like I still have so much to learn here, so many lessons on the journey to discovering who I am.
One day, I know that I will leave Portland. But I know that it will probably always feel a bit like home no matter what.
I needed to write in order to explore this idea that’s been gathering in my mind. Sometimes it is only my fingers and hands that can find pathways to true reflection.