Longing for Portland

I woke up this morning to grey skies and drizzling rain, with wisps of a dream still tangled in my hair. In my sleep, I was back in Portland, during my high school years. It was a tour of my old patterns around Northwest, the neighborhood frozen as I knew it back in the mid-ninties. Off the freeway, down Vaughn Street, left on 25th. Around the green-planted traffic circles and right on Pettygrove Street. A dip into our driveway to turn around before coming to a stop along the stretch of curb that could only comfortably hold two cars if you parked consciously.

On Sunday, I attended a bridal shower brunch for a friend. Though I only knew a few of the attendees initially, there was something about the women that this friend had collected over the years that made us all instantly comfortable with one another. As we talked about marriage and the development of family life that comes when you partner up, I shared my struggles with Philadelphia.

I love this city passionately and have always felt deeply at home here. However, as I think towards the future and imagine a time where I might have babies, I long for something that looks like what I knew as a child. I don’t mean so much the green lushness of the Pacific Northwest, but more the many easy, close-in neighborhoods that Portland boasts. In Philly, you either live in the city, or the suburbs and there are miles to travel between the two.

I feel like last night’s dream was born out of this internal search I continue to tend. It reminded me of what I knew. Now I need to start dreaming of what will come next.

6 thoughts on “Longing for Portland

  1. Angie

    I know what you mean…I long for large gardens, full of fruit trees and roses…but i think our next neighborhood will be great.

    It might not have the Mediterranean weather, the big fruit trees and green deciduous forest I want; but it seems that I will have a chance to a mini garden. Even though it’s a quiet spot in the city, there also seems to have a welcoming community there…I can’t wait!

  2. Marisa

    Angie, I think you guys have found a very happy medium. You have that nice front area where you could plant a few things (fig tree!) and the porch for other green things. I’m so excited for you!

  3. Anna

    I disagree, I think there are plenty of homey family-oriented neighborhoods in the city. Plenty of list-serves for parents, close knit family communities where you can meet other moms, have playdates and still see the skyline from your house. I think it all depends on what you mean by close-knit communities, but there are definitely some worth looking at in the city, if this is where you’d like to stay.

  4. Marisa

    Anna, I wasn’t saying that there aren’t family-oriented neighborhoods in this city, just that there aren’t any like the ones I grew up with. I’m struggling with the fact that nothing looks like what I crave in terms of housing stock and personal space.

    In Portland, as soon as you get out of the downtown core, most of the city turns into neighborhoods with single family homes that all have their own plot of yard. Twins, duplexes and rowhouses don’t really exist there. And in this part of the world, to get that stand-alone house with a bit a of yard, living in the city isn’t really an option.


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