Transitioning to a new life, in a new city, at times, has left me feeling out of body: Observational, but intimidated; Curious, and unsatisfied with answers; Patience, only leading to frustration; Built up excitement, then unimpressed; Incognito, but lonely; Surprised yet torn; basically all conflicting emotions that can happen were my experiences. When I decided to “Jump in,” “Carpe Diem” and “When in Rome” cliche it up and to Facebook-style exaggerate what is happening, I tucked my tail and went running back to my comfort zone. Those approaches were not me. All the million, trillion suggestions people asserted were not me either. I had to surrender to the change and whatever catastrophe came with it. Even if that catastrophe meant I had to slow my life down and concede that moving and transitioning to a new city takes time, its not just a romantic idea thought up in a single moment.
So, while browsing through an adorable Portland vintage shop, because that what Portlandians do, the owner offered me half price on the 2013-2014 Chinook Book because it would soon be expired. The contents of my Chinook Book include coupons to ONLY local grocers, restaurants, shops, entertainment, rentals, and transportation. Trying to fit in by conversing and observing and taking infinite amounts of recommendations was OVER! (Ugh! Finally!!) I would take this coupon book and I apply whatever food, shop or entertainment Chinook threw my way. No more thinking, weighing, mapping it out, discussing, deciding, comparing and contrasting agony!
Chinook gave me a coupon for this local, sustainable, green convenience store, not far from our home. Using my coupon, I decided all purchases must be Portland local goods, it was a fun, new, grocery store game. I stood baffled in front of the fill your own growler Kombucha tap, and sampled fresh picked strawberries that were teeny, tiny and full of flavor like the ones I grew in my community garden in Denver. Eventually, I took Tillamook Ice Cream, whole wheat pancake mix, single serving of Kombucha, Portland made ketchup, Stumptown cold pressed coffee, and wild caught salmon to the cash register.
Proudly presenting my coupon at the register, I used my ninja-teacher-questioning techniques (also known as Bloom’s Taxonomy), to focus a conversation completely on this man’s love of Unicorns. He didn’t mind there were people waiting in line, he just needed to express his knowledge of unicorns to me. Filtering myself carefully, I asked the young adult, “Why on Earth did you decide to tell me about unicorns, today?” “Because you just look like someone who would appreciate them,” he answered. In fact, I once loved Unicorns, too! As a child, I had an entire shelf of porcelain unicorn statutes and as a 3-year-old, I dressed up as Rainbow Bright for Halloween, complete with unicorn horn added to my pony on a stick. Both costume and statutes were sold in a garage sale almost 20 years ago. This guy has plans for a chest tattoo of a winged unicorn to match his sleeve of more unicorns and wizardry accents. I took his statement as a compliment, but politely declined his offer to smoke pot with him. Kombucha tap and unicorn conversations, still makes me smile at the odd memory.
Chinook showed me a lot of great Portland spots. We do our fruit and vegetable shopping at the Farm Stand called Kreugers. If we want it fresh from the farm, all we have to do is drive 15 minutes with a basket and pick it ourselves. We have sampled several mushroom varieties in effort to learn our local mushrooms. Chantrelles sauteed in garlic and butter are divine! We have enjoyed more fresh caught, wild seafood like scallops and salmon! Other enjoyable food adventures include marionberries, Blue Star Donuts (Voo Doo donuts are a sham!!), kale chips, Salt and Straw, Papa Hayden’s, Slappy Cakes and McMennamins mustard.
I enjoyed more interactions Chinook brought me, and took note on language especially. Now, I say things like “Oh, ‘Southeast’…errr..” and “Yea, the ‘food cart pod’ on Burnside/ China Town/ Lombard.” I usually reference “Sauvies, Forest Park or ‘The Pearl'” when describing my weekend. I learned to ask questions important to Portlandians, like: “Is it local?” and “What do you recommend?”
Here in Portland, I learned that barista, bartender and shop girls take ownership, pride and embody their respected careers. Also, many Portlandians enjoy careers best described as “Hustler for Life!” ‘Hustlers for life,’ work a job, but are really an actors, musicians, artists, writers, OR (like me) teachers, etc. One Portlandian friend I have from my rugby days is combination of paleo baker, grower, caretaker, but really she’s a rugger. Perfect example. Now, when people ask me what I “do.” I reply, “Yoga pant sales and professional parallel parker, but really I’m an educator.” I keep a straight face, it’s really what I do every. day.
Many other restaurants were visited and shops were perused, but the best part of Chinook was it made me learn on my own. At times I felt like I knew where to find the best of something, and now I am a part of the conversation. I can contribute a review, a recommendation, or give directions to a popular spot. Other times, I failed. It was my own failure, not one that someone or google maps led me to with anticipation. I recovered myself from failure and laughed at the story because really, I was learning. I’m not any good a coupons, and by no means a coupon lady. The value of the Chinook book is not monetary. It is the waterfall of new ideas, getting out of my comfort zone, failing, accepting new changes, and figuring out the city of Portland in my own way.
What have you done that helps the transition from your home to a new city?