Last week, my friend Jess Witkins e-mailed me to let me know I had won a book she was giving away as part of a contest on her blog. I was thrilled, because
- One can never have too many books, and
- It was free.
Not necessarily in that order, but then again, I’ve been outta work awhile, yo.
Jess asked for my address, and I fired off a reply, thinking nothing of it…until I received a rather astonished response.
WHAT?! Where’s the Portland address? I just did a double take.
Oh…right. That. I am, after all, forever raving about Portland. How much I love it here, talking about the places I like to go, even posting pictures of “my beloved Rose City.” I can see why she assumed I have a Portland address. Probably most of my readers think that. And I don’t blame y’all if you do. I kind of, sort of, (un?)intentionally imply that Portland is my home. But because this is National Coming Out Day, an occasion in which one should proudly declare the truth about whom, exactly, one really is…it’s time to step forward and admit the truth to the world, for once and for all.
I am not a Portlander.
In my defense, I’m almost a Portlander. I do live in the “Portland Metropolitan Statistical Area.” Which is why I stuck that asterisk up there in my title. One could argue (and I have, more than once) that living in the PDX MSA still makes me a Portlander. My mailing address just happens to be another city. And, if I’m being completely honest, another state.
Yes, people. I live in Vancouver, Washington. Everybody happy now?
The reasons for this tiny, barely significant, reasonable-under-the-circumstances little white lie…nay, not even that so much as a minor, itty-bitty sin of omission…are pretty understandable: whenever I tell people where I’m really from, it confuses them and leads to a series of explanations that I’d honestly rather not deal with.
If I say I’m from Vancouver, they respond, “The Great White North, eh? Have you ever seen a moose? How’s that socialized medicine working out for you? Who’s going to win the Stanley Cup this year? Can you pass me a beer?”
When I correct them with a No, not Canada – Washington, I get, “Oops. So, is it true that the Beltway is the murder capital of the world? Ever run into a Congressman in the grocery store? Think the Redskins will put together a good team this year? Can you pass me some crack?”
It’s maddening, so I usually just say Portland.
Even that answer isn’t without its flaws, as I could theoretically be talking about that other city in Maine, but most people do correctly assume I mean Oregon. And that’s another reason why I don’t mind having them believe that: Portland is cool. It’s hip. It’s funky and cutting-edge and liberal and environmentally conscious and – as evidenced by IFC’s television show Portlandia – not afraid of poking fun at itself. All traits that I really like. So yeah, go ahead and think I’m a Portlander. I like the association.
And the truth is, I also like Vancouver. In many regards, living here is the best of both worlds: I’m just a few miles north of the Columbia River, the border between Oregon and Washington, which means I can easily shop in Oregon (no sales tax!) and work in Washington (no income tax!). Downtown Portland, and all the culture it offers, is twenty minutes away; the Oregon coast, 100 miles. Houses are less expensive in Vancouver, the crime rate is lower, and I can pump my own gas. Plus, it really is a beautiful town – very green, lots of trees and lakes and rivers, mountains in the distance. We’ve got a killer farmer’s market and an awesome waterfront. Some people claim Vancouver is a “bedroom community,” but you know what? The bedroom is probably my favorite room in the house. So, there!!
I no longer suffer from an identity crisis. I’m proud to call Vancouver, Washington home.
And, statistically speaking, I’m also still a Portlander. That’s called a win-win!