Portland Sucks

Anywhere would have, because, the summer I lived in Portland, my life sucked. Could have been in Hawaii or Paris and found fault with the disgusting coconuts and crappy crepes, the stupid palm trees and Awful Tower. As it was, I had decided to explore the Pacific Northwest after my sophomore year, before studying abroad in Scotland. What began as a good idea turned out to be poop on a stick. Don’t quite know what that means, but sorta captures my own confusion at how such an adventure could go so adversely.

OK, because the memories are so harsh to recall, I’m gonna copout with bullet points to distance myself from the details. Sorry to spite you, Strunk & White:

  • As my sophomore year came to a close, I ended a co-dependent relationship with an atheist and started an even more co-dependent relationship with an even more devout atheist.
  • En route to Portland, I stayed with a friend, who by the end of the visit, had stopped talking to me, looking me in the eye, and paying for her own clam chowder.
  • The second leg of the road trip was bummed out by being expected, at a pit stop, to play with a relative’s dirty weiner dogs, which led to a passive-aggressive fight over sharing gas costs.

  • When I finally settled into the Portland back house I had rented, I discovered that my landlords were on trial for a felony. It did wonders for their marriage and the tension levels on the property.
  • All available air in my apartment was stained with hemp. If I opened a window, I was forced to listen to Jimmy Buffet and the owner's vain plans for a backyard yurt.
  • Two weeks after pounding the pavement looking for minimum-wage work at grocery stores, hotels, and cafes, I found that Burger King hadn’t had an opening for over 3 years. Every employer in the city had a stack of applications thicker than a quarter-pounder with cheese.

  • It was hot as crap.
  • I was spending my mornings, at the library's computer station, detailing to my boyfriend the cosmological argument for the existence of God. I was spending afternoons not responding to letters from my mom about the dangers of dating an unbeliever. I was spending my nights in the one reception-happy corner of my shack, crying and being all needy with my boyfriend. Sometimes the rhythm of sobbing and sighing was punctuated with the slow, methodical swallowing of brownies.

  • Once I decided to be social and get to know my neighbors. When I went next door for a BBQ, my social anxiety reared up, driving me to retreat into the dark cave of my psyche where I whittled my kebab skewer into a stake to drive through my heart. Fortunately they didn’t notice, being, as they were, engrossed in swapping stories about their recent colonoscopies.

  • My brother drove down from business in Seattle, took me mountain biking, and bought me groceries. Riding up the ski lift and down the slope, riding shotgun in the rental car listening to U2 and eating candy bars evoked my one and only summer smile.

  • My boyfriend came to visit me twice. We spent every moment staring desperately into each other’s sad and lonely eyes, with nothing to offer each other except empathy in emptiness.

  • My funds finally dried up, and I had to apologize to my landlords that I’d need to leave a month early. I offered to do whatever home improvement projects necessary to defray the cost of lost rent. For several days I painted their fence and reassured the drunk neighbor that I wasn’t being used for slave labor.

  • The landlord graciously helped me pack up all my worldly goods and ship them back to Pennsylvania. Getting out of his van, I slipped on an orange and nearly broke my back. Then, in the torrent of emotion and disillusionment, I failed to compensate him for his time and energy and got reamed out by his wife. So, with my last Benjamins, I limped a mile in the heat to get him imported beer with which to toast the gods of misery and get her incense sticks to burn on the altar of jadedness.
What a gigantic mess! “And this mess is so big and so deep and so tall, we cannot pick it up. There is no way at all!” It was the first time in my life that I sincerely felt I had made a big mistake. Maybe that was enough of a realization to redeem the disaster: I can make mistakes, live through them, and recover.
Woopty Ding Dong!