Monday, March 7, 2011

Adventures in Puddletown, part 1

I'm sitting here in PDX, waiting on a flight back to Denver that's now delayed 2.5 or 3.5 hours, depending on whether I believe the Orbitz updates sent to my Android or the flight departure boards. Either way, I'm now afforded some downtime before the phantom flight arrives from Denver.

I can't believe it's been almost 5 years since I was last in Puddletown, and almost 8 since I last drove here. As such, my rented transportation appliance enabled me to indulge in some pretty cool nostalgia. I mean, I spent a good 4 years here, possibly the most life-changing years of all. But although it was a good place to live for four years, I probably could not live here.

For one, people here drive WAAAY too slowly. (Oregon is the only western state with a speed limit of 65 - slowest of 'em all.) When I first moved here, I was thrilled that Portland drivers seemed to be so polite, allowing me to cross multiple lanes when I realized that I had to turn right, not left. They drove slowly and allowed me in without hesitation if I needed to cut in front of them unexpectedly. And it stayed that way for three weeks. But then I learned how to navigate Puddletown, and by then, I realized that this driving-slightly-under-the-speed-limit thing was not politesse, but the MO. Well, I like to drive, I like to be in control, and I am positively thrilled to be moving at a glacial pace on the road. Especially if I have a flame thrower or a bazooka handy with which to obliterate mealymouthed drivers in front of me.

From a weather perspective, I love four well-defined seasons, and Portland only has two: rain and sun. And even with that, the rain isn't all that wild. More like annoying drizzle that falls from pea soup skies - no texture to the clouds at all. If you hear more than three thunderclaps in a year, that's pretty severe. And if more than 1/4 inch of snow falls, the whole city shuts down. For those of you in warmer climes, you may commiserate, but guess what: this Colorado boy scoffs unapologetically at this sort of thing. So there. But on the other hand, summer in the Pacific Northwest is one awesome secret. Gorgeous, warm, comfortable, very little rain (!), and sun for weeks on end. Even can get amazingly hot, with heat waves above 100, the likes of which even Denver rarely sees.

A traipse down nostalgia lane here:

Russellville - The apartment complex where Mr. Man and I first lived together. We drove together from Denver and arrived in Portland in time for a very uneventful New Year's Day, 2002. Thus continued my stint in medical school, and thus began possibly the worst phase of Mr. Man's life: being unemployed in a town he'd never been in, with no friends, arriving from the land of 300 days of sunshine a year and landing smack-dab in the middle of a typical gray, miserable, sunless winter. You never realize how much you depend on the sun for sustenance until you're forcibly deprived of it for months on end. And man, it made him depressed. Going back "home" to the place we first started forging our relationship under some pretty difficult circumstances was really poignant.

NCNM - The reason I moved to Portland for 4 years. Kick-ass school. It was great to return, and everything brought me back: the smells, the staircases, the stories of the water that somehow had magical powers of fertility (in our class of 100, we had 10 births). But man, sitting for hours in this weekend seminar also brought back the drudgery and annoyance of being ground under by schoolwork. Don't miss it one bit. And I have to admit...the more I see the typical naturopathic student, the more it makes me cringe. It's the (almost always) woman that looks entitled to being upwardly mobile, driving a Prius, doing yoga multiple times a week, shopping almost exclusively at Whole Foods or the like (because even for these students, shopping at co-ops is a bit beneath them), wearing the latest Columbia gear...oh, heck, you see them in magazines like Real Simple or Martha Stewart Living. You kinda wonder if they've ever been mediocre at any point in their lives, or had to deal with any sort of poverty or even middle-class status.

CC Slaughters - The gay club I used to go to all the time, very neighborhood bar-ish. Loved it. It used to have gay porn playing on the monitors to scare away the straight boys. I cultivated my first bartender least until Mr. Man happened on the scene, and the bartender suddenly grew jealous and my drinks suddenly grew more opaque. I came back on Mardi Gras weekend, filled with guys I once would have considered more or less my peers, but who now are anklebiters to me. Damn, I'm getting old. (Incidentally, I also happened to see a guy who I once dated a few times and unwittingly screwed over. Also also, saw the guy I had my first LTR with. Last I saw him was actually at Slaughters, the night before I drove away from Portland in 2003. Being a particularly furry cub, he was being tossed around and groped by horny bears, and just lapping up the attention. Kinda disturbing to see that...not to mention that it also made me jealous as hell. Oh well.)

Delta Cafe - Good Southern cooking just doesn't exist in Denver, so I got my fix here. It was the second restaurant I went to when I first moved to Puddletown. If you don't mind a really bohemian vibe and Sonic Youth blasting from the speakers, it's all good. Man, is it good. Collards practically soaking in bacon drippings. Some hellaciously decadent mac 'n' cheese. Fiied chicken that puts KFC to shame. Jambalaya, gumbo, etouffee, red beans and rice, andouille sausage...the whole thing just gets me hungry...and I just had lunch not even an hour ago.

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