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Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Jeff Muceus

5 thoughts on Portland from an East Coast transplant

By Ash Lind

There’s a sort of bone-deep tingle of dissonance that comes with leaving your ruby slippers by the wayside and finding yourself far from home. But as terrifying as it may be, for some reason or another, people find themselves pulling a Lewis and Clark and staking their claim in Oregon. Many have chucked the heels of the East Coast and taken that dreadfully long plane ride past the hills and lakes en route to Portland.

Upon landing and taking those first few steps onto the massively popular PDX carpet, one gets a sense of a cultural divide that makes it abundantly clear that you’re not in metaphorical Kansas anymore. Here are a few things I’ve picked up along the way as a poor, wandering baby deer still trying to understand Portland's beer-sipping, coffee-brewing, house-blend music-listening and plaid-wearing ways.

1. Your fresh air is too much.

The hacking and wheezing? That’s not allergies. That’s from years of being conditioned to breathe in fumes and smog. The clear, healthy overabundance of oxygen is too much for most city slickers' frail lungs to take. To help, bring me to the nearest trash receptacle or ashtray and let me breathe deep. I’ll be fine in no time.

2. The lack of taxes here has actually spoiled me.

I recently took a trip to the East Coast and hadn’t realized how much I was actually spending until there was a burning hole in my pocket. How am I supposed to live outside Oregon when I’ve gotten so used to everything being exactly the price it says it is on the tag? It's like...magic! The guess work of adding different percentages based on what state you’re in kept me on my toes. Now I’ve gotten sloppy and it’s all your fault, Portland.

3. I’m not actually trying to commandeer the ‘hipster’ aesthetic.

It’s just a natural progression once you cross into Portland: The frayed scarf and vintage bomber jacket just appeared on me the moment I took the first step off the plane. I don’t question it and neither should you.

4. There’s actually too many things to do.

I get it, Portland. You have an active art and cultural community. There are markets and festivals and nudity nearly everywhere you look. And you know what? It’s exhausting. I mean, I get it. It’s not your fault that you have more entertainment in your back pocket than I do after years of dinner parties spent alone with Netflix and pizza pockets. But cut me some slack and let me nap without feeling guilty for missing the annual adult soapbox race/zombie-themed pirate bar crawl/ukulele dance-off. I’m only human.

5. Keeping up with Portland's quirks is a full-time job

I’ve worked hard to attend brunch on the weekends. I didn’t giggle when I found out the state animal is a beaver. I have never once quoted Portlandia. And I find Portland's zany antics and the fact that people here think Birkenstocks are acceptable footwear to be downright adorable. I know out-of-towners make Portland natives a little huffy, but I think we can make this work! And hey, at the end of the day at least I’m not from California.

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