Portland: The First Year

Two years ago today, you’d be able to find me in Baltimore, attending Otakon for the first and (so far) only time. One year ago today, well, that would depend on the time. If it weren’t for the change in time zones, you’d be able to find me in New Jersey for most of the day, longer than expected actually, thanks to a delayed flight in typical United fashion. For about six hours, you’d find me somewhere above the US. Just before midnight, Pacific time, you’d find me touching down in Portland.

I think time doesn’t just fly when you’re having fun. I think it really starts to fly as you get older too. Sure, I’m still only in my early twenties, but time here in Portland has flown by enough that I technically never finished unpacking. I’m sure 60-hour work weeks don’t help, but it doesn’t matter since I’m already getting ready to move again. I’m still staying in Portland – you can’t get rid of me that easily – but I’m moving to a quieter district. It’s rather remarkable how just a few blocks out of Downtown makes such a big difference. Said move will literally be a few blocks, down to the South Waterfront district.

Not much has changed with Portland since I’ve moved here, but to be fair, not much changed in my first year of living in Philly either. While I’m no longer at the job I originally moved to Portland for, I am mostly happy with my second job in Portland instead. There are things I would do differently for sure if I could do my first year over, but it’s too late for that. All that can be done now is to learn from it.

For the most part, I would say Portland is a much quieter city than Philly. I’m sure Portland’s size helps, but there is plenty of Portland I haven’t seen yet, so it might not be fair to say that just yet. I think Portland is definitely greener though, both in regards to transportation and open space. Parks and trees are plentiful in Portland. Philly definitely had greenery, but it also had plenty of concrete. While SEPTA’s fleet is dramatically greener than TriMet’s (hybrid busses are still a major rarity here), I would say Portland’s private vehicle usage is far greener than Philly’s. Hybrids and small vehicles are practically the norm here. Philly was very much a petrol-powered city.

With regards to public services, I definitely love Portland’s library system, but I very much miss Philly’s art museums. I like Portland’s MAX a lot more than Philly’s subways, but I miss SEPTA’s industry-leading customer service. Bike share is still too early to call, but Indego’s first weeks were far more reliable than Biketown so far. I’d say Portland is easier to get around in, but Philly’s flatness made biking around in Philly much easier.

Do I miss New Jersey? Sort of. Portland definitely is not a short train ride away from home. It’s not as far as Melbourne was, but I can’t simply go home for a weekend like I could in Philly. This time around it’s been a year since I’ve been home, not six months. There’s been plenty I’ve missed back home as a result. Mom has hair again, but she’s still not done with cancer. My brother, against seemingly all odds, has actually graduated from high school and should be shipping off to the Marines in a couple of months. Dad might be starting a new job soon. I’ve been so busy I haven’t really had time to see the friends I already had here in Portland when I moved. And even after a year, I still forget there is a coast here.

So what will my second year bring? Putting aside moving apartments in a couple of weeks, who knows. While it is raining here today, I’ve lived here long enough now to know that no, it doesn’t always rain in Portland. I like the weather here much better than back in the East Coast. There are things I miss from the other side of the US, but I’m happy enough with Portland to still call it home.

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