After what had seemed to be a confounding and time blurred drive out to Portland I had finally happened upon the outskirts. Unassuming city, hard to really see for what it is through the dense surrounding forrest, it began to truly open up. Through a thousand plus miles mostly averse to character, Portland is unmistakably unique and the deeper you get into its border the easier it is to feel as if you’ve finally struck on something worth taking a second look at.
I had one goal, and one goal only this introductary night, to get a Voodoo Donut, which I had heard about so much. Well actually this was a place I saw Anthony Bourdain go, he got the bacon donut, twice! I found driving through the inner part of the city to be a freaking nightmare and was very glad to have navigation telling me where to go and where to turn. My friend mentioned the curvy streets happened to be the likely end result of actual ‘terrain’ that one has to navigate as you go to and fro here, yeah where I am from it’s flat, and the streets are perfectly gridlike.
As I really came into the city, I was lost in adeep feeling of nostalgia for something familiar in a sense but completely unique in it of itself. The city, to me, seems to be a mix of a lot of things I can remember, snowy icestrewn streets with christmas lights in some hip part of Salt Lake City, graffiti and peeps chillin on the sidewalk like in Los Angeles.
Portland people really have a look of their own as well. I have to mention that it seems their skin to be of a similar pale tonality as my own, which caused me a smirk as the idea came to be walking down the street. I work the night shift and really don’t see the sun as much as I would like, this culminating into quite the lovely pastiness, although one I might suggest is a healthy pastiness which I hope favors me in my autumn years with lack of skin cancer (psh who am I kidding I am screwed, I have been burnt more times than a fry cook at In N’ Out) Nevertheless, Portland people are hilighted by the permadusk which is consistent, this dim, bluish hue which mottles the sunlight seemingly continuiously. They were all in my opinion overdressed for the mid 50s temperature, which is warm enough to not cause discomfort when I retrieve something from my car in my t-shirt from my hotel room, but cold enough that my sleeveless hiking vest proved to be ineffective at holding in the heat for an hour walk through the city. Yet, scarves and thick wool coats were present as if a flurry was to be expected. Perhaps one was, I am still unaware of the potential for snow in these parts.
I had parked my care in some sort of park amidst a few office buildings, only allowed to park and about a mile from Voodoo Donuts, I hustled down the street. I look up at the buildings, which make me think almost of Burbank California, modern yet not current archetecture, perhaps from the 90s mixed with older, almost 50s looking buildings which are very reminiscent to a few of the unoccupied ones in Phoenix. I really am continually brought back to the color, it’s the color that sets this place apart. By now the sun had settled, yet the hues of the ‘golden hour’ continue. Incandescent and dimly lit streetlights line the streets, nothing seems bright yet also nothing is uncomfortably dark. It seems the reflective nature of the surfaces would be as if it had just rained, yet it haden’t all day, it was just wet.
As I walked down the street, the windows to each side showed bar after bar lined with dark wood and soft and dreamy table lamps. While where I am from the feeling is high energy, bright, clean, crisp, sharp, so forth, this is quite the opposite, dull, dark, soft, intimate yet crowded, old but not in the way it is easy for me to describe, old perhaps in the sense of the sharply defined character that takes years and years to develop, as opposed to young and fresh kid who is trying to figure himself out. Portland to me seems to know what it is, and carries with it an utter confidence about it, paridoxically unapproachable but you can’t help but want to be its friend. The dusk, the crows, the faint sound of a trainhorn int he distance, a real downtown that real people populate, a city life that’s mature yet somehow young, character, a deep character that very much makes me uncomfortable in that I am finding out how much I love it, and how truly unfamiliar I am to it.