Staying Awake in Seattle, Days 16: PDX, PDQ, Part the second

The whole of the Pacific Northwest is pretty beautiful, and the bits around Seattle especially so, but there’s something about Portland that says “home” to me.

It may be because of its size: Seattle is smaller than New York, Chicago or Los Angeles, but it still feels like a big city.

It’s also a little fancier than its sister to the South. Okay, a lot fancier. It’s not formal, by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s a little more decked out, a little less grubby. Fancy.

Portland, on the other hand, reminds a great deal of Chicago, specifically, the tiny, homey Chicago of my childhood. 1960s Chicago, when we had three good restaurants and the Loop and a big, fat chip on our collective Big Shoulder because we weren’t New York. Only Portland doesn’t feel like it has a chip. It feels a little working class, a little crunchy, a little fanatical (hello, foodies! hello, bikers! I’m talkin’ to you!) and okay with it. My pal, Robert, who’s lived there for some time now, says it’s really just a grimy old port town that got classed up. So is Seattle, for that matter, but I guess there’s a lot more money up here, because there’s a lot more visible class.

Anyway, if it felt incredibly wrong to blow by Portland on my way up the I-5, it felt truly thrilling to take a little side trip back down there in the middle of my stay up here.

First, there’s the middling-longish drive there: three hours each way. Yeah, I’m a lousy citizen, burning extra dinosaur bones rather than hitting it on the way up or back, but I haven’t found the thing yet that jogs stuff loose in my brain like a middling-longish drive.

And after a couple of weeks of doing new stuff here, believe it or not, I’d fallen into a groove. It felt good to jump out of it, and really good to jump back into PDX to change it up. I stayed in the same hotel, walked the same streets, went to the same restaurant (sweet baby jeebus, that place is good), shopped in the same bookstore. I did meet one new former imaginary Internet friend, but hung out with two old ones, including my first shrink/astrologer. I talked change with my shrink, who has known me over 20 years now; I talked shop with Havi, whom I’ve known for about 20 weeks, I think. (I talked about everything from sex to writing to money with Robert, but we are weird.)

More than anything, I’m realizing this an idea-collecting trip. Or maybe an idea-coalescing trip. Or maybe both. I needed this distance from my L.A. surroundings and routine to start seeing how all these pieces of things I’ve been toying with for the past 12 months fit together. I’ll be heading back in about a week, but it will be a back that’s forward.

New business plan. New project order. New excitement for life in general.

Backwards to go forwards. Or just stopping, so you can go, period.

Remind me of this when I’m home, would you?



  1. May I suggest, next stay in PDX, Hotel Lucia. An equally well staffed, positive overnight experience, and you can bring the dog! Nowhere near as hip, (sub-28 yr old) yet a great stay. (This coming from someone called 45 at the ripe age of18) Work ’em for the larger room, it’s worth it. COMFY bed, flat screen WITH REMOTE!) The hotel is near some great eats, Powells, good Thai food almost IN the lobby. Try The Country Cat for breakfast OR dinner. (It’s a haul to get there, but still…)

    As for legal liquid heroin, try Stumptown, (the local coffee skunkworks) building a phenominal run of the wet black gold everyday for years. Hmmmm, bring it winter, you got nuthin’!

  2. Hmm. This would entail CHANGE, but from the way you describe it, perhaps it’s the kind I can believe in.

    And meant to hit Stumptown, but…um…GPS failure. (Probably operator error.)

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