What strikes me most about this city is the lack of congestion: both people and traffic. I live near Chicago, and I’m used to bumper-to-bumper traffic during rush hours and non-rush hours too. I’m used to angry drivers and pedestrians, each swearing and spitting at each other in red-faced rage.
Portland is closer vibe-wise to the Twin Cities. And just like the Twin Cities, faces aren’t so tight. People aren’t millimeters from slamming each other as they pass on the sidewalk. Sure, some white man nearly sat on me — because what? It’s too hard to look where you’re sitting down? I had to rapidly leap over before he sat On Me. But that’s white male privilege, and it operates in all regions, at all hours of the day.
Otherwise, there was no further crushing. No shouting. No screaming. No middle fingers waved at me or anyone else. No one tried to grab my attention — it was all extremely pleasurable.
Even better were the square parks that dotted my walk to the Pearl District. One park cradled a deep belly red brick amphitheater. The other flowed with water falls cleverly constructed out of cement platforms and pylons. Bushes and grasses were green and lush despite the late summer season. I had left a yellowing Midwest behind me to enter a serene verdure.
Life runs on a different frequency here. The waves scamper along the silvery blue Willamette River, twining beneath my hotel window, and then the vibrancy rises and falls further on, towards the evergreen clad mountains and hazy horizon line beyond. I can catch only single notes that make up a blazing chorus my mind cannot fathom yet.