Goodbye Portland

May 31st, 2008. Categories / Portland


One thought that comes to mind continuously when you are moving your own possessions into storage is “why do I have all this crap?”

In the scheme of things, I don’t own much. J. and I were able to pack all of our worldly possessions into a 5×10′ storage space. Each of us used about half the space, meaning I would need just a 7×7 plot of earth to hold my junk. Or just the space of one box, if I was an expert stacker and gravity/wind didn’t exist.

The storage facility was just a few minutes away in a nearby industrial area along the river. It was managed by a friendly man who seemed just a few clicks away from being a serial killer (Who would no doubt store bodies there with his employee discount). The space was vast, and felt a little like walking through a secret facility. The single floor warehouse was subdivided into hundreds of repeating spaces, connected by a few block-long hallways that transfered even the smallest sound along their length. In the hallway next to our space, was a electric organ that seemed unclaimed.




Moving happened over the course of Thursday and Friday, with most on Friday. J. borrowed her uncle’s pickup and it took about ten trips. The storage facility’s moving carts allowed us to unload the whole truck in a single pass. Friday was a long day as it involved moving all of J.’s stuff and the rest of mine, plus runs to leave things at Goodwill, selling a couch, dropping off some things at a friend’s house, and finding out that a few of our bigger items wouldn’t fit. The overburdens were my futon frame, a bookshelf, and two coffee tables J. had made in college. Reluctantly, we had to part ways with this stuff. It was too late in the night to sell them, so we drove them back to J.’s apartment and left them on the sidewalk. Despite how busy yesterday was, there was still time to enjoy the great weather by driving across town to get Vietnamese sandwiches for lunch. Dinner was a little trashier, and involved eating in a truck and french fries. By around 9:30, the final pieces of the move were ready. I slipped by Vespa into the perfectly measured space, rolled in J.’s bike, and locked the door. Of course, I had forgotten to take my keys from the scooter, so we had to go back for them. And once we got back from that, I realized I’d forgotten to bring my banjo and electric guitar. I had to move those this morning. Passing by J.’s place, I noticed that everything by the futon frame had been taken.

Last night, J. and I stayed in my empty apartment. It was our last night in Portland together, and we slept like logs on a soiled futon with coverless pillows that rested on the dusty floor. This morning she headed to Nashville on an early flight, while I packed my things and caught a cab for my flight to New Mexico. I didn’t even know there was an “Old” Mexico, go figure. I bet that’s also what the first conquistadors said when they discovered the lands the Navajo called “New York.” Did you know that the Navajo used to grow apples there and ship them all over the world on horse-powered cargo canoes?

Honest Injin.

As I’m approaching 30, there will likely be few times left for me to pack up all my stuff and head out in search of great adventure. I expect once more. Afterward, I’ll have to do as both older birds and trees do: build a nest and put down roots, respectively. Pretty soon, baby Niks will be popping out of my love partner’s baby hole. And baby Niks wouldn’t be the best travel partner, at least until they are old enough to carry guns. I don’t know where or when all this settling will come, but it will come. It will come if I don’t get in a plane crash or struck by a meteor.

To maintain my freedom, I strive for fewer things and no debt. Luckily wanting less and having less debt works together. Since paying off my student loan at the beginning of last year, I’ve been indebted to no one. And it feels good. With the move over the past few days, I superficially sorted out the obvious items I was hoarding but didn’t take the time to determine what I really need. A lot of my possessions are paper based: old artwork, old prints of writing and layouts and miscellaneous things. Books take up the rest, along with art supplies and a few minimal pieces of furniture. Most of my stuff has been in boxes since I moved to Portland over two years ago. And a lot of it had been in boxes prior to that. If I had the guts, I could probably weed my possessions down by half and double my weed possessions. Luckily, in the past two years, I’ve reduced the amount of things I own. In this move alone, I cleared out at least eight boxes or more of various items. When I get back to the States, I will reduce this even more.

I am not sad to leave Portland, nor was I excited to leave it either. My mood was indicative of my time there: easy going and pleasant. Portland didn’t wow me, but it had no faults either. I could image coming back to live with the baby Niks and love partner someday.

Things about Portland I will miss:

  • Weather in the summer
  • Farmer’s market
  • Walking Everywhere
  • No sales tax
  • The scenery outside of town
  • Picking berries
  • Cheap rent
  • The easy ride to the airport

Things I won’t miss:

  • Weather in the winter
  • The lack of ocean or great in town scenery
  • The god-awful new construction all over
  • The lack of multiple good places to work at
  • The lack of scooter parking

I imagine coming when back to the States I’ll be living in a much bigger city. I think that’s what I want right now. I can see the people that have made them most of Portland, and they are not me.

Today I arrive in Albuquerque, New Mexico to visit my sister for a few days in Santa Fe. On Wednesday, we will be driving up to Montana. We pick my father up from the Denver airport along the way and head north to visit my grandmother and uncles. My non-incarcerated uncle is running a marathon. The rest of us will be walking the 5K portion of it. After celebrating the race, we drive back on Monday and I take a flight out to Dallas. J. meets me two weeks later, and day after we fly off to Bangkok via Los Angeles and Hong Kong.

This is the start of another great adventure. And while I’m nervous about funding it all through savings, I have to remind myself that it’s what I was saving for.

4 Comments


daniel:

damn dude. congratulations! i am at once envious of your successful possession downsizing and ability to embark on such a great adventure, and yet pretty content with the lush rewards of being a good little consumer for the last decade or so.

i have so enjoyed reading about your exploits on this blog. i hope you continue it with vigor from thailand, and i wish you much happiness in your travels.

i had mentioned that me and mine might be headed to china this fall and that if we did, we would try to meet up with you along the way somewhere. but, alas, we’re doing scandinavia this time around. and not in the fall, but the summer. i’ve never been to oslo, copenhagen, or stockholm, but i expect visiting them to be like stepping into a liberal utopian future. i’ll let you know.

again, all the best, and eat some bael fruit for me!

Nik:

Sorry you can’t make it to Asia this year. Maybe if I get a job in japan it will open up the visitation window more. Have fun in Europe. Don’t drink the water.

Jon Klassen:

some hobo got the nicest coffee tables ever.

maurene:

best wishes in thailand nik–i’m glad you have someone to share it with. maybe one day c & i will make it out there to sleep in a hut, or whatever it is you do over there.

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