Today marks my anniversary of arriving in Portland to begin my adult life. After college I moved back home to Anchorage, Alaska. I had a degree in Restaurant Management and was still unsure about what that meant to me. I knew I didn’t want to be a part of a large national chain, I didn’t care for hotel restaurant service, and I wanted something more than ‘ma n pa’… so I worked at Enterprise Rent A Car. I was lonely and felt isolated in Anchorage. The city is so spread out with very few inhabitants. Not many of my friends had come back after college. I was single and living in my parents basement with a ton of school debt and credit card debt. You see, in college I racked up this debt because while in a relationship that was mental exhausting, I would escape to Portland from Corvallis. I would go to the mall because I didn’t know what else to do. I would buy cute clothes that I lacked the confidence to wear. But when I returned home to the sorority house I would receive all of these ohhhs and ahhhs over the cute things I bought. I worked my tush off furthering my isolation and loneliness so that I could pay off the credit card debt. I started cooking at home with my then favorites Tyler Florence and Ina Garten. I would bake treats for friends and soon realized I was getting the same ohhhs and ahhhs over the goodies I made. This was enlightening.
I remember making my last payment – it was memorial day weekend. I called my mom and told her “I just made my last credit card payment and still had money to buy a one way ticket to Portland”. Typical mom response was “when will your return flight be?”
Moving back to Portland was also a discouraging experience. I had decided that I’d like to continue my food exploration. I had applied to go to Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. I knew when I would leave and my parents said they’d keep my pup safe. I started looking at apartments to rent. When I purchased my Portland ticket I realized I was passing on Paris. If you know me, you know I have a real soft spot for this beautiful city. I regretted this decision for a long time until most recently but that story is for another post someday.
There it is, I landed here. There are times when I feel pushed out of this city. Rent is high, transportation can get expensive, parking is a joke, and the job market is tight. But I do love this city. I love its bridges, its grey days, its festivals, its heartbeat. I love that I can drive an hour into wine country, 1.5 hours to the mountains or to the beach, its got big city and little city, farm life and night life. I rented a room from a friend of a friend for 6 months, and then another set of friends for a year before moving into my own spot. I was working in a support role at a local brewery, working in the Sur La Table cooking school, and attending culinary school full time. Again I felt isolated and lonely because so many hours where being poured into ‘making it’, paying the bills, and trying to stay above water. It took me 6 years to get to a point where I have some balance. I have a relationship that fills me love. I have friends old and new. And my culinary dreams are bigger than ever. So far I really love the life I have made here and its only going to get better.
Here is a collection of photos that show my love of Portland… and one in Paris.