Tuesday, August 7, 2007


Recently Arvonn and I have been feeling pretty good about moving to Vancouver. Not just because Vancouver is a pretty good place, but also because we've had some weird experiences in Portland. My thoughts started solidifying after some girls came up to us at the Vancouver Farmers' Market and asked us some survey questions about this very topic (it was for some art or communication class). Portland vs. Vancouver.

We've been discussing this odd feeling of having come here for one thing (being near Portland), but discovering that it's not all that great. Instead, we like where we are for its own reasons, which makes me feel really good about choosing this spot, but also disappointed about our neighbor across the river.

I think that living in Pittsburgh, I got used to being in a smaller city. Even going home to Boston was becoming overwhelming. So for this move, we decided we wanted a place that is no bigger than Pittsburgh. Vancouver is way smaller (yet growing instead of shrinking like Pgh). Portland is almost as big as Boston, and 4 times the land area, which makes it extremely overwhelming! Hmm, well, we knew that, so we chose to be conveniently nearby and go into the "twin city" when we feel like it, instead of living in the midst of all the chaos.

But the thing is, almost 4 months being here, we hardly ever go into Portland! It's sort of a waste. I like the Vancouver Farmers' Market better than the Portland one (way calmer and cheaper!). Traffic into/out of Portland is worse than Boston, so it can be a huge pain to go there. Walking across the I-5 bridge is pretty scary, and bicyclists do NOT yield to peds like they're supposed to. :( Moving intra-Vancouver (and rest of SW WA area) is no problem. All of my movie/grocery/park/day-to-day needs have so far been met in Vancouver. Esther Short Park has a different cool event going on every time I go down there! They screen free movies on a building wall on Main Street in the summer. People sit out on their porches and do gardening and strike up conversations. You can see all the mountains just as well from Vancouver as from Portland. And hey let's face it, we're shopping for a house and we're just not going to get anything we want for any fair price in Portland. Sure most of Vancouver is 'burby, but apparently I don't mind.

The larger issue (and this is a sweeping generalization of strangers!) is the people in Portland. I know, I hardly know anyone so I should try harder before I write people off, but the last couple times A. and I went into Portland, people we dealt with were just unbearable!

The folks at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore have a really bad attitude! Nobody smiled at us or said a word to us, but there was plenty of staring. Plus all the signs saying how they will not help you in any way to carry anything to your car, stuff like that -- I don't think I'll be back.

Then just walking around on several occasions -- no one smiled or said hi as they passed by on the street -- which happens every time in Vancouver! So I get used to it up here, then go down and everyone in PDX seems so rude. But it's a bigger city, so maybe it's just getting up to a Boston level, where people also don't acknowledge your presence because they just don't care. Hey, whatever, that's where I come from, but I've learned that I actually appreciate other people more now; it's nice to be cheery.

Also the vibe in PDX that Vancouver is some place to be scorned or laughed at is not cool. I never like it when people have to get all snobby about where they live. And all the "Vantucky" stuff is bizarro -- obviously these West coasters haven't actually been to Kentucky, WV, etc. -- it is nothing like Vancouver!!

I wonder if somehow I'm being "East Coast" about all this. We were joking with one realtor about how East Coast we are -- we had no idea we were doing anything different, but he picked up on some mystery vibe right away and we had a good laugh (he's originally from NY -- takes one to know one I guess -- he said we're "refreshing"!). But if I'm East Coast and I'm finding Portland people to be rude, arrogant, etc. . . . what does it all mean?? I've heard that there is a sort of Northwest introverted behavior because of the rain and stuff, everyone sort of keeps to themselves and is super quiet and sensitive and what have you. That's cool with me, but geez, it sure comes off the wrong way sometimes!

I also think that we're too fat for Portland. Everyone down there is all healthy and slim and wearing form-fitting emo garb. We get a lot of crabby stares. But it makes sense that skinny people are crabby, because they're hungry, right? (ha ha, joke!) Maybe we're also too in love or something; there are lots of singles down there and perhaps they're resentful of us holding hands??

I'm trying to stay open to Portland and give people a chance, of course -- and I like the people I've already met! :) -- but I never thought it'd be an issue. I guess I really may not be hip enough for this city of hipness . . . but hey, lucky for me I don't really live there! And since hipness inherently makes fun of others, I don't really want to be hip anyway. I'll just keep shopping tax-free down there, woot!

As Arvonn says, we are really smart because we chose the specific place that's best for us in the area. Now we're just trying to buy a house!

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