I’d been all set to do an epic ‘before’ post in the days running up to my solo adventure, but every time I sat down to type, a cold wave of fear and reality would crash over me and I’d shy away from the laptop in terror, only returning to let it entertain me via Netflix and distract me from the magnitude of what was about to happen.
I’d been obsessed with wanting to visit Oregon at some stage in my life ever since I was about fifteen. It was the early 90’s, it was grunge, and all our teen idols were shabbily dressed, softly-spoken, unconventional non-Hollywood misfit types – enter one River Phoenix. I adored him. Every bit of his quirky unassuming self spoke to my soul. I totally got what he was about. I was a child of newly-separated parents, not a Catholic, with one foot in grunge music, the other in whatever metal I could get my hands on. All you young metallers will never know the giddy thrill of obtaining an illicit cassette tape recording of your band of choice with a handwritten label stuck on the face of it; usually with the author’s crappy but big-hearted attempt at recreating the band’s logo in black biro for you…but that’s another blog post altogether. I digress.
So anyway, I discovered through the medium of Smash Hits magazine that my beautiful River had been born in a log cabin in Oregon, and I thought that was the coolest. Along with being a typical moody hormonal teenager, I also suffered from massive amounts of crippling anxiety that could turn my stomach into a churning mass of molten vomit at any moment’s notice, so when I wanted to escape situations that set it off (read: everything), I would begin to imagine myself living in a beautiful log cabin in the wild green woods of Oregon, far from the people & things that threatened to destroy my fragile peace of mind. As the years went by, the dream pretty much stayed the same, but I added the occupation of hermit best-selling writer into the mix. Not gonna lie, that’s still pretty much exactly where I want to be, but with the ability to beam myself anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice so I don’t miss anything important back home.
So Oregon remained one of those places that took root in my mind as somewhere I had to visit if I ever had the time and resources, and I eventually narrowed it down to visiting somewhere like Portland once I found out more about the place. The show Portlandia sang to me from Netflix and told me that I was completely right; Portland was now the place to be for all things weird and unconventional. I did some serious research along with devouring the show and feeling super-envious when I saw all the beautiful quirky houses in the suburbs, or the dynamic shots of all the mad eejits floating around Downtown. While Seattle had been the Mecca for the grunge generation, it seemed like all those folks got older and migrated down the map to Oregon and brought up the next generation of misfits and unconventional ne’er do-wells. Portland seemed to have become the new Seattle, but in its own contemporary way. But our original kind are more than welcome here, after all, we were the founding fathers of the Portlandia generation. (I’m including myself in this because fuck it)
So with all that madness in mind, and all these above thoughts racing around my brain at warp speed, I decided that this year was the time to do it. My finances were healthy enough to support my decision, and my time was my own, so it was just a matter of when to bite the bullet. I decided on September, because I liked the idea of going in my birthday month and spending some time reflecting on what direction I wanted my life to go in, and letting the mental freedom that travel can provide influence my decision. Also, I’m an Autumn / Winter gal at heart, and Portland in the Fall just sounded pretty epic all round.
Once I booked it, I immediately felt scared and anxious as well as completely at peace with my choice, if that’s possible. One part of me was patting myself on the back, telling me that I’ll feel like I’ve come home, I’ve been wanting this for years, and it’ll all be fine. The other more grounded part of me was screaming WTF DID YOU JUST DO YOU’VE NEVER BEEN TO THE STATES LET ALONE SPEND TEN DAYS ON YOUR TOBLER IN A STRANGE TOWN THERE YOU’VE LOST THE FUCKING PLOT and continued to do so right until I set down my bags where I was staying. No wonder I had a pounding headache that night.
to be continued….