Thursday, May 9, 2013

I am not in Bend! A Love Song to Portland

I had been trying to think of something to be happy about, lately. Tonight was no exception. My little brother called me, and this made me very happy, as it was so nice to hear his voice and to talk to him. He also used his new knowledge as a nurse to help me with a medical issue I've been having. We got disconnected, and I was happy for a while till I got to not being happy again, and then I finally got him on the phone again. He had been going through the mountains and lost the call, through the mountains to Bend, Oregon.

I used to live in Bend. That's a long story that I wrote extensively about on another blog. The blog has now dissapeared, which makes me dissapointed. I did not like Bend, for many reasons, mostly that the dry air and extreme sun made it hard for me to breathe and made me very disoriented. Also, people are very fragrant in their use of perfumes there, and it's as far away culturally and geographically from Maine as you can get without being in, say, Arizona.

So, as I hung up, I thought to myself, I have something to be happy about now! I am not in Bend!
That thought alone was enough to make me happy.

The other day, I was in Portland, walking the streets that I love so much, and I made a list of all the things that had made me smile and made me happy while I walked around. I have unfortunately lost the list, but I will try to recreate it here. I stood there, the intersection by the Eastland right by the art musuem as I waited to cross, after walking down from Longfellow Square, and I thought to myself,
after a lovely, sunny, beautiful day of walking around my beloved city of Portland, "Please let me remember just to be happy to be near Portland. I love this city so much. I love everything about it, and even though my life is in turmoil and I am not where  I want to be in any sense of the phrase, let me remember that as long as I can get to Portland, I must be doing all right."

I can't claim to have remembered that plea to myself as much as I would like. I get upset, depressed, agitated, even hopeless at times, so many times, since that moment only a few days ago. But I am remembering it now, and if I remember it at least on and off, maybe that will be good enough. Maybe that is all you can ask.

For now, I present

Reasons to be Happy in Portland on a Sunny Tuesday in May

Pink cherry blossoms swirling around your feet as you walk down Pine Street in the West End
An impromptu concert at the Bank of America balcony in Monument Square
Stores that have their doors open, heralding spring
Street musicians adding to the joy and wonder of the city - guitar and even violin
Sitting on the square granite monument in the middle of Monument Square that has held you for so many years, through so many lives - It is still there. You are still there, and it is still there, and its permanence soothes you.
The guy who plays his guitar on Commercial Street who remembers you and starts to play the Beatles when you approach
The gelato shop, the lox place, and being known by people who work there
Coconut and chocolate sorbetto and the best lox in the state consumed on a lazy afternoon
The boats of Long Wharf, their reflections shining in the water
People, so happy to be out in the sun, lounging in the parks from Longfellow Square to the Old Port
The familiar streets and buildings, the people watching, the buses, everything working like clockwork

I walked that day, from Monument Square to the water of Commercial St to get some lox, back up to Monument and further up Congress to the art museum and then Longfellow Square, down Pine St to get to my appt. An hour later, back down, to Fore St in the Old Port for some gelato, back to Commercial to pick up the lox I bought earlier, and taking a new way, a shortcut I had just discovered, Union St straight up and a right to get to the street that would lead me down to Whole Foods. Walking around Portland feels like living out a love song for my city. It is a meditation, it is an expression, of a kind. Portland's streets are the mantra of which I live my life, at least the better parts of it. Do I always feel like this? Not every time, but enough , enough to make it worth it.

I have always swooned over Portland and I suppose that I should be thankful that in all the turmoil that seems to constantly follow my life, that has never, ever changed. I doubt it ever will.

How could anyone build a city more perfect than Portland? I admit, I am biased.

Because tonight I have something, however small, to be happy about.

I am not in Bend.

Hallejuah! I must be doing something right.


  1. I have a younger brother too, and I always love talking to him :) Glad you're happy and doing well!

  2. It's so wonderful reading your words-like Henry Thoreau-I'm transformed by them. Your book, Common Scents, is one of my alltime favorites(I'm going to buy more and give as presents).
    Liz In Cleveland
    P.S. Your blog is important to me.

  3. If you want me to remove it, I will in a heartbeat. Promise. I'm an Aspie and have a youtube account. I read your poem and gave you as much credit in my video and description as I could :) Love it :)