This past weekend we marked three years in Portland. THREE YEARS….since we moved from Philadelphia to Portland, Oregon. I can’t believe it.
Most of the things I felt last year around this time still ring true.
But, at the same time, a lot has changed since then.
And a lot has changed since we first moved here.
Look, ma! I have friends! I have to admit that making new friends was really intimidating to me when we moved. It was one of things I was most worried about (as long-time readers of this blog will remember. If not, I’ve included some back links for some funny, some emotional train wreck accounts of the adult perspective around the struggle of moving away from your friends, the ridiculousness of trying to make new friends, or the repercussions of not having friends as an adult):
- I’ve Got Friends in Low Places. Wait. No, I Don’t!
- Awkward Mom Moments: Asking Other Moms Out on (Play) Dates
- Soul Invasion
- Redefining Home
- Familiar Voices
- Back West
But it all worked out. I am no longer the biggest pushing-40 loser in town. (Ok, that may be arguable, but I have some peops, now. Keep reading.)
I finally have friends – like multiple people I would say he or she “is my friend” and I think they would probably do the same. And, I think we’ve reached the point with our neighbors where we can say ‘friends’ instead of ‘neighbors’ without any awkward sideways glances at each other to make sure the other is cool with that relationship assumption.
I’ve mentioned how hard it is to make friends when you are older, but I’ve finally found some peops. I even had two social engagements over the past two weekends, a few coming up this weekend, and an invite to Thanksgiving. In fact, we’ve even been invited places and invited back out again with the same people. (Second dates never lose their significance, it seems 😉 . )
But who’s counting. Oh right, me. Sorry, I know this is weird, but I am excited – it’s terrible being my age and trying to rebuild your social infrastructure after a lifetime in a community where you’d known everyone since birth. LOL. And, really, my recent run of social butterflying is not impressive – it’s taken a full three years, and many pitfalls (including a lunch stint where my “friend date” would not stop talking about placental preparation!) – for this to happen. This coming year, I will just have to get better at being the one to make the plans and invite people – that’s never been my strong suit. 🙂
Further, I know people and they know me. Having friendly faces around the community that I am excited to see and who are excited to see me is a new thing. (And if they’re not excited to see me, then they should consider Hollywood because they are that good. LOL.) It’s nice to leave the house for your kids’ soccer games knowing there will be folks to chat with when you get there! And, perhaps most importantly, my Facebook feed is evening out and I get some Portland news in my feed from time to time. Hahaha. 😉
I don’t need my GPS as much to get around. But I have burned myself recently with failed directional bravado that sent me the wrong way on the highway late at night after a long business trip. No need to be proud, Clark, just tap your address into the iPhone before you leave the PDX parking lot. Not sure what I was thinking there – clearly, I had my travel muscles on.
I still get called out for my accent. Most recently, my doctor, upon meeting me for the first time, said, “Are you from the East Coast? I can’t quite place it – it’s not Boston, but maybe New York or Philadelphia?” Hahaha. Yes, yes, I am. But definitely Philadelphia, not New York. Anything with an “ou” or and “ow” gets a flat “a” sound. Almost everything with an ‘a’ gets the tense -a (e.g. pal becomes more like ‘pail’ vs. ‘pahl’).
Some of my more prominent Philadelphia tells: “are” for “our”, water (wooder – but I say wah-ter more frequently now!), “tal” for towel, “crown” for crayon, boat (boeht), “can” is “kin” when I am telling you I have the ability to do something, “mare” for mayor, “shore” for sure (although our kids say “shure”)… and more. Of course, I say ‘yo’ frequently and don’t think that will ever leave my dialect.
Some phrases I get called out on:
- “going to the food store” (instead of grocery store)
- going downtown (actually had someone ask me what I meant! I mean the inner streets of the Portland city center.)
- going down the shore (instead of to the coast)
- I’m done that (instead of I’m done with that.)
Sometimes getting recognized for my dialect makes me self-conscious, other times, it makes me proud (and homesick.) Mostly proud, though. Except when I reveal myself as a native Philadelphian and people assume I love the Eagles, and then accuse me of stealing Chip Kelly. 😉
I still feel like ‘home’ is in two places. In fact, I use ‘home’ to describe Portland and Philadelphia equally. It’s kind of nice. And, using ‘home’ to describe an East Coast and a West Coast destination makes me feel rich. No need to push for a promotion at work. 😉
The other, darker side of this coin is that we’re not there for our family and friends when they need us most. We’ve had a few such situations over the past three years, and it’s incredibly frustrating being 2,864.2 miles away from your mom or mother-in-law when they need a hug. Or when you need a hug. Or when your kids need a hug. Basically, it’s just hard when everyone huggable lives across the country. (That’s a whole ‘nother level of friendship that I don’t think we’ve quite reached out here in Portland yet. I don’t want to push the friendship bases after just hitting some singles in recent months. 😉 ) But, it’s nice to know that after 8 hours on multiple Eastern-bound planes, there are going to be people – lots of family and lifelong friends – who are always going to be there with outstretched arms waiting to wrap them around us.
Overall, we’re three years in and I am thankful that things are working out. There was a long while where the homesickness trumped all. But I am finally coming into my own here in Portland. Watch out, friends. 🙂 Watch out.