Travelogues: Portland, OR. by Jennifer Trumbull

Travelogues is a new series by cutebutsingleforareason where contributors share their stories of a life dedicated to travel. Inspired by my own solo lady adventure Euro StoriesTravelogues is a take on the art of travel writing with the use of several different and compelling voices, mediums, and formats, expanding the definition of what it truly means to free yourself from the ordinary. Be it short or long – travel has a magical way of transforming those brave enough to leave the comforts of home and explore the world abroad. I’ve invited some of the women I’ve met on the road, in addition to, local adventurers to make a densely woven narrative that will be eventually become a ‘zine.

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“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

― Henry David Thoreau

My flight lands in PDX at 10 p.m. It took four different flights and 26 hours, but I made it back to the States from my European adventure. It’s at this point in my new jet set life, where I master the art of sleeping whilst sitting up and waking at the unfasten seat belt ding. Now, I can get off a plane in a sleepy haze and make it to baggage claim without thinking, just using my new follow-the-crowd method. I grab my suitcase and am on the curb awaiting my Portland lifeline, Shannon, in under 20-minutes. If only these newly acquired skills would fit on my CV.

I don’t have a ticket home-home, back to St. Pete home, yet. Just the agreement with myself to return by my 34th birthday and spend the holidays with my family, writing out my adventures, and planning my future. But as I stand on this chilly curb smoking my leftover smokes from Madrid, I promise to enjoy this remaining time away, and not worry too much about the unknown. I don’t have any real plans in Portland or Seattle beyond visiting with friends.

Either Portland has changed or I have. When I was here two years ago, Portlandia felt like a cluster of neighborhoods that could be found in St. Pete, not like a hip utopia. It was lovely then, no doubt about it, yet there was no real pull; a draw that welcomed a fleet of St. Pete people to the dream of the ‘90s, that is, evidently alive in PDX. To be fair, it’s not all Voodoo Doughnuts and trips to Powell’s, but a refuge of genuine niceness, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The bus drivers are kind and eager to help, not a hallmark of mass transit anywhere in the world, but a pleasant surprise. The customer service is excellent and extremely slow. Coming from Spain, this did not faze me one bit. I have grown accustomed to a more leisurely pace. The coffee is tremendous, the beer even better, and the view will stop your heart with its vast mountains off in the distance surrounded by booming trees, lush foliage, and a layer of fog. Flying under the steel beams of massive bridges connecting bits and pieces of the city, disappearing with the velocity of my heartbeat, fluttering just out of reach. Only my eyes seem to touch the fleeting moments.

Portland is truly a different world, while I had my suspicions that this was all an elaborate joke, I must say on this trip, I found myself a convert.

Reconnecting with my good friend, Shannon, giggling, and spending time together over the course of 10 days was really an unexpected treat. We always got along well and had fun but I felt that we are like family now. She is pure Id, whereas, I’m pure Superego; both of us out of balance and complete opposites. Not knowing the answers but driven by our basic natures. My imagination built a world where I would join the Mobile Avenue house, complete with hot indie rocker neighbors, and silly lady roommates. Wearing layers upon layers in boots, gloves, wool caps, and a myriad of functioning, but adorable, outer wear. A healthier lifestyle and more vegetarian diet without the crazy notion of finding a career but simply floating above the lofty ideals I once held about what my life should look like. I would take up hiking, camping, and shun corporate consumerism for a more natural existence. There really is no need for deodorant, at least in the fall. The outdoorsy girl inside me wanting to get out and hike a thousand miles like Cheryl Strayed, a Portland writer and adventuress, someone I found in a tiny bookstore in the Pacific Northwest.

The idea that I could live another life, a seed planted from my solo journey, began to spring to mind. There is no place on this earth where I don’t belong. I’m the only one creating limits – not the world – certainly not Portland. Leaving everything behind and starting over is tempting and at this point, I have nothing holding me back. I only have to point to a spot on the map and go from there.

The conception of home taking on new and different forms and not just where your heart is or your birthplace, but a fluid notion of comfort and stability. Those things only exist when you are truly at one with yourself – the vulnerable tenderness that longs to be concealed from the cavalier; the missing scale; the emotional soft spot. And all the jumble of emotions that found their way into the deepest part of my being, speeding through my blood stream, keeping my skin abuzz with a stinging newness. Not just from the time and place. The place is in me. I am everywhere!

Or maybe it’s the drinkable Portland tap water warping my brain?

 ***

About the author: Jennifer Trumbull is the woman behind cutebutsingleforareason.com and started this blog as an outlet for my own writing while working on an academic career. 

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