Until I went to college in Walla Walla, Washington, I had lived in Portland my entire life. Not surprisingly, most of the people I knew had also lived in Portland their entire lives. In 2008 I came back from college, and over the next couple of years I made the gradual discovery that this was no longer a normalcy. The fact that I grew up here had become worthy of shocked and impressed expressions, and not the bored uninterested looks I would expect after telling somebody that I’d essentially lived in the same place my entire life. Thus I discovered how incredibly cool Portland is. When people hear that I made the bold move of never leaving, they know that not only do I understand how awesome it is to live here now, when I’m able to make responsible adult decisions about where I ought to live, but I was here before it was my choice, before anyone else had figured out to move here (besides my parents, I guess), and I must have somehow absorbed some of the greatness that is Portland into my being. I can’t say this for sure, but I don’t think that people would be impressed if we were in Salem and they just learned that I had always lived there. Of course maybe I’m looking at this all the wrong way – perhaps people aren’t impressed with me for my inaction of not going anywhere, and instead are impressed with themselves, for finding one of the relatively few natives among the vast sea of immigrants.
As impressive as the accomplishment of living in Portland your whole life is, any admiration received for it will come crashing down around you if somebody finds out that you didn’t actually grow up in the actual city of Portland, but in a suburb instead. Suburbs are not impressive at all to these people. I have always lived in real Portland, but sometimes find myself getting unreasonably defensive about this fact, due to my near proximity to fake Portland. The sad truth is that much of real Portland is very close to fake Portland, and so there is a good chance of being close to it, but that doesn’t make it any less Portland. This is important to understand, because things change quickly once you’re outside of real Portland. The way it changes varies, depending on what part of fake Portland you’re in, sometimes it gets ridiculously fancy, sometimes it gets ridiculously not-fancy-enough, and other times it gets entirely filled with auto dealerships.
The fake Portland I live near is the auto dealership kind. Despite my closeness to the place, I have generally avoided going there much unless I have to. It’s not a bad place, but it draws no real attraction to me, except every Thursday, because then if I don’t go I’ll get fired. Because I work there on Thursdays. Still, work there is just an out-and-back trip, I never explore. Until yesterday, when I found myself with a two hour lunch break, and decided to do a track workout.
The local high school* is just a mile from work, so I only got a glimpse of one mile of this fake Portland (okay, you’ve probably guessed by now I’m talking about Beaverton), but I’m going to go ahead and apply it to the entire city (city? town? suburb? what is Beaverton?).
- The only businesses there are Mexican restaurants and auto dealerships
- The children are uneducated in track etiquette
- The high school has a giant parking lot in addition to excess street parking (for free!)
- The traffic lights are long and boring to wait at
I’m pretty sure that covers it for Beaverton, but feel free to contact me if you’re thinking of moving there and want some more details on what I’ve already mentioned. While I probably won’t be looking to live there anytime soon, I can say that I was very impressed with how fast I ran in Beaverton during my track workout yesterday, in comparison to how fast I ran the same workout two weeks ago. So while Beaverton isn’t anywhere close to as cool as Portland, at least it’s conducive to a faster track workout. For me… at least once.
*The lead guitarist of Cherry Poppin’ Daddies went to Beaverton High School