Part satire, part nature documentary, to be sure.
I’ve been slow to warm up to Eugene. I admit it. The university campus is delightfully green, but it stands apart from the rest of town. And as far as the rest of it… for a college town, I have not found it terribly picturesque. Part of this, I am sure, is because my transit options are so much more limited. It’s just harder to get to the good stuff. Why there aren’t buses going everywhere all the time, I do not understand. For a town that prides itself on sustainability, the residents sure do like their cars. Even somewhere like Palo Alto does better than this.
I’m taking a few more photos of my new home these days, as I adjust (you can now follow me on instagram! Wa-hey!) to the environment. It isn’t so much the slower pace–that’s been welcome–as the provincial attitudes of so many I meet that grates on me. Americans abroad have a reputation for being unaware of how they are being perceived in the moment and I never really understood why, until I moved to a place where I was the foreigner. Now I have a lot of “did that person really just say/do that?” moments.
The thing about New York is, nearly everyone moved there. Almost everyone you meet in your daily, working life screwed up the courage to get their asses there and stick it out. There’s a toughness there that I appreciate better now that I no longer have to embody it. And despite the physical and psychological relief of not having to be that person any longer–I was so tired–I miss the willingness to suck it up and have an adventure or two. I miss the way that living in close quarters teaches you as many lessons about yourself as it does about the patterns of the people in the apartment above, below, or to the side of yours. I miss being in a city with a proper creative class–and no, Eugene does not have this, though it certainly tries to claim it.
So, Portland. Bigger, grittier, slightly more diverse, and definitely more aesthetically pleasing, with any number of brilliant food adventures in the bargain. I may appreciate it all the more because I’m not immersed in it daily, but I’ve been there rather a lot since my arrival, most recently for a getaway with a friend from graduate school. Now both Pacific Northwest escapees (though I think she landed in a far prettier spot than I!), we are over the moon at our good fortune (that is to say, at not being sad tenure-track assistant professors of English in the Deep South). And Portland is so photogenic it’s a bit twee. Which brings me back to Portlandia. Part satire, part nature documentary. I swear to you, that’s the honest truth of it.