Posted by: ritagone | September 11, 2013

In Portland

powells-books

 

 

Last week I had the opportunity to spend a few days in Portland, Oregon.  My new friend Deborah Loyd had invited me last month to come hear her teach on women in leadership at a local church in Portland.  The invitation came while we were together at Christian Associates’ Connect conference in Budapest, and the offer was so tantalizing, I couldn’t refuse.  I made arrangements to leave Michael on his own with the dogs, arranged to have dinner with CA’s Ann and Dan Steigerwald while I was in what is their city as well, contacted my friend Mickey Bernhardt, who lives in Corvallis, about an hour and a half away from Portland, to make sure I could connect with her too, and managed to secure a really low air fare.  And Bob’s your uncle!  The adventure was on!

I hadn’t been to Portland since I flew up there about 20 years ago to look at granite warehouses when we were building a house outside of Medford, in southern Oregon.  But that was a trip with a specific focus, and my friend Sue and I were on a mission.  We didn’t take in any of the amazing sights and neighborhoods of Portland; we just looked at granite warehouses and ate.  I’m not sure if I would have appreciated the city then anyway, so it was probably just as well that I kept to my granite agenda.  (We did manage to find a beautiful piece of granite that eventually went onto the kitchen counters, so it was a worthwhile trip after all.)

Portland is like going to another planet, at least if you live in Westlake Village, where everything is groomed and manicured and regimented.  Where people are also groomed and manicured and fairly regimented too.

In Portland, neighborhoods are as diverse as the people living in them.  Some are being “re-gentrified,” which means a ton of money is being poured into stores and buildings to make the area fit for living, after perhaps decades of being downtrodden and unfit.  Nice.  Others are funky and artsy, with shops that reflect a culture of bohemianism.  It reminded me of the downtown area in New York City, where you can walk for a bit and find yourself in completely different communities.  The East Village.  Chelsea.  NoHo.  Residences take on various flavors and looks too.  Everywhere there are people walking, bikes, life happening.  It rained.  I love the rain.  I have almost forgotten what rain sounds and feels like.  I got to sleep one night with the window of my bedroom open and the sound of the rain beating down outside.  I slept like a baby.  I even slept late into the morning.  I think if I lived in Portland, I wouldn’t get up until 9 or 10 a.m. on a rainy morning.  Why bother, when you can lie in bed and listen to the rain outside?  Is there anything happening inside that can match what’s going on beyond your window?

My hosts, Ken and Deborah Loyd, were as wonderful as I expected them to be.  We talked and talked and talked some more, getting to know one another better.  The more I got to know them, the better I liked them.  Hearing Deb teach on Thursday night was every bit as interesting and challenging as I thought it would be…and well worth the trip.

Add to that, a lunch by Multnomah Falls on Friday, and it doesn’t get any better.  Friday night I got to see the lovely home of Ann and Dan, who have poured so much of themselves into the house that it fairly blossoms with their personalities and gentle spirits.  After hearing about this home for so many years, it was a thrill to get to finally see it in person.

I love my home in Westlake Village, but it sure was nice to expand my horizons and spend some time in another place for a few days.  It left me wanting to go back for more exploration of a city that begs you to come and see more of it.

So that’s my encouragement to you today: visit a city that is not like where you live.  Which is probably any city other than the city where you live.  Pick some place different on purpose, explore it, understand it as much as you can in the short time you’re there, track the differences between where you are and that place, and appreciate it for what it is.  Then go home and love your home.

Or move.

There are loads of possibilities.

 

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