December 27th, 2010
“We are going to ride the streetcar! We are parking the car so we can catch up with it.”
On Lovejoy Avenue, just outside Sammy’s Flowers, I was stopped by a little boy colorfully dressed in waterproof clothes. His sandy-colored dreadlocks swept his shoulders with each wisp of breeze . He was either an articulate three-year-old or a petite four-year-old. He told me more about his plan. I shared with him my idea of sometime just riding the streetcar until it stopped and seeing where I ended up. As I watched him walk off with his family for their Sunday adventure, I thought of my son at that age. He is 23 now and lives in Tulsa, the city where he was born, the city where I spent all of my adult life until late 2008.
It was Sunday. For two hours I had been walking a corner of Portland’s Nob Hill Neighborhood and the northern part of the Pearl District. Oddly enough I was thinking about all the ways to get around as I wore through a bit more shoe rubber. I’d passed boats, cars, buses, streetcars, trains and lots of walkers and cyclists. The public transportation in my neighborhood is a chief reason the Pearl often places in the top five places to retire. What other things go into deciding where to live?
A bit of goggling and I found sites with questionnaires to help a reader decide where to live. Factors to consider included work location, cost of living, climate preference, cultural amenities, outdoor scenery, health care access… I have tallied up pluses and minuses for both Portland and Tulsa. There isn’t a clear winner. My marriage brought me to Oregon. My business client base is still in Tulsa. I visit Tulsa monthly and still put full-time effort into staying connected to the community. On Thanksgiving I passed the morning with an iPhone in one hand, a coffee cup in the other – texting and calling over 70 people – many of whom hail from Tulsa. That Thursday night I dined with Portland friends.
I grew up living on four different continents and an island in Indonesia. I don’t know that I need to be with someone to feel connected, especially not in this technical age. Because I work from home, one thing I know I need throughout the day -as much as oxygen and food – is regular brushes with people, opportunities to smile, chances to exercise. I meet the eyes of each fellow walker, chat with neighbors on the elevator, at the dog park, in the market…I wave as I pass businesses and store fronts to acknowledge the owner of Green Grocery, the designer at Smash Cut, the associate at Umpqua Bank, the concierge at Park Place… I wave back at people on passing trains. Each walk is energizing. Each lifts my spirits in any kind of weather and collectively they’ve helped me shield some (many) pounds!
As I sat waiting for my Mac to boot up to begin writing this entry, I glanced over my left shoulder through my south window. A neighbor standing in her living room folding linens, stopped to wave. Turning back to my screen I looked up and a 12th floor neighbor on his balcony smiled and nodded.
Making your way on your own can be daunting, exciting, scary, overwhelming and confusing – every day! When you are ready to choose where and how to live, try to embrace it as an opportunity to find a good fit for you. Listen to one voice – yours. Make this your time.
And for fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE_9CzLCbkY&feature=player_embedded#!