Happy to go, Sad to leave

Yesterday was both awesome and sad. Now that we’re on the brink of leaving, I’m realizing all the things I’m going to miss about Portland. As much as I need to go home – to my chiropractor, family, and friends, to a place where I can survive on unemployment alone – this place has a vibe, a spirit of unapologetic funkiness, a soul even that gets under your skin and before you know it, you’re hooked. I didn’t recognize it until today – but I’m hooked. I tried to explain this weird mix of feelings to Honey: how I’m relieved to go home, desperately need to go home in order to not live in pain with ribs all twisted out of place, and yet sad because I’m going to miss how people here actually seem human, and there’s a real art scene with real artists, and people care enough to protest practically everything. Honey said that’s because Las Vegas isn’t a city, it’s an attraction. What I’m feeling and seeing now is how a true city lives and breathes, and it’s fascinating.
Let me attempt to explain…we went to the Saturday Market for the last time this morning. I haven’t been up before 9am since I got fired, but we were on the road by then today. There were clear blue skies for miles – the first day of them this year I think. The market was the busiest I’ve ever seen it, with vendors and shoppers, street musicians, homeless wanderers attempting to be street performers, and dogs. Crowds of what we call “native wildlife” – the costume-dressed, wild-haired, hard not-to-stare-at people who inhabit downtown. There was a man playing drums on a set of empty plastic buckets sharing the sidewalk with an accordion- and harmonica-wielding man and his amplifier; across the street there was a black man in a very large, Rastafarian hat with a carved staff holding court from a lawn chair, but not obviously selling anything. Next to him was what appeared to be wanderer (he had that far-away look in his eyes and could’ve used several good meals) who rolled out a blanket to display very colorful crocheted beanies. He started crocheting a new one while I watched. Artists and locals, homeless and vendors all rubbing shoulders in a comfortable sort of jostling, creating the kind of buzz you read about in the markets of far away or long dead places. We circled this festival of commerce for over 3 hours, taking photos, collecting business cards, dropping dollars to deserving musicians and one unfortunate soul with a broken leg, crutches, and a sign simply stating “need food, God bless”, and avoiding the small gang of ruffians advertising ‘free hugs’ to all takers. For someone like me, from Las Vegas where it used to be tradition to implode a building every New Year’s, street musicians are harassed for disturbing the peace, and ‘culture’ comes and goes with the tourists, today was an experience like… settling into a much worn, but still proud chair or taking a tab of acid and feeling all five senses explode, minus the paranoia of course. I don’t really know how to describe it. Everybody is weird and everybody is different so nobody points and judges or stands with their little group of friends, feeling superior. So refreshing.
I had a hard time resisting, but I didn’t buy everything in sight. We picked up some of “the best catnip on the planet” as a peace offering to our poor cats, who haven’t seen us in nearly 2 months and probably think we’ve abandoned them. We bought a flint and magnesium fire starter for our road trip and a cute little drawing of a scuba diving bunny rabbit – it made us both laugh. For lunch we found the guy who makes Philly cheese steaks with grilled onions and parmesan garlic sauce – still at OMG status. We also tried his grandmother’s recipe for orange lemonade, which was very good. We walked across the street towards the back of the market which puts you in a little park right next to the Columbia River. It’s lined with blossoming cherry trees, green grass, and benches excellent for resting your tired feet and watching tail of the many runners in spandex.
I’m going to miss the option of going to Saturday Market every weekend of the summer. On top of that, they also have Second Thursday which we’ve never been to but could probably kick the butt of Las Vegas’ First Friday. We’ll miss the farmers’ markets and loops you can drive to buy produce direct from the growers, Voodoo Doughnut, though we did manage to get in this morning and buy the famous “no name” doughnut (cake doughnut with chocolate glaze, rice crispies, and drizzled peanut butter). There are things I won’t miss of course: relentless rain, sky-high taxes that don’t pay to fix the roads (that are disintegrating), and not seeing our awesome friends. If I could meld Portland with the aspects of Vegas I have to have, it would be perfect.
Oh, here is a list of links from vendor business cards I picked up. I couldn't buy everything at once, so...enjoy.

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