Today marks my third month living in Portland. This city with all of its weirdos and crazy liberalism has been calling my name for years. It’s been an unprecedented journey of madness.
In February, I quit my job. I’ve quit many jobs before, but none in a circumstance like this. Many a time I’ve fantasized about pulling a much more gracefully-executed exit à la Jerry McGuire, proudly walking out the door after collecting my things and giving management a piece of my mind. Instead, I quietly slipped away on my lunchbreak after what I decided was to be the last mistreatment from management. I left the building, got in my car, and didn’t look back.
It was both liberating and anxiety-inducing. Never before had I quit a job without another job lined up. Who does that? People who don’t have bills and responsibilities do things like that, I would assume. People who don’t have rent and a car payment and insurance and a phone bill. People who aren’t supporting pets. People who are not me. Yet there I was, doing that very thing. For a single moment, I thought about turning back around from my lunch and pretending the whole thing never happened; I would never tell anyone. That thought quickly faded as I kept driving. I was committed.
I went straight to the store to buy champagne (for celebrating), cupcake wine (it was terrible), sugar cookies (for diabetes) and ice cream (more diabetes). Over the next couple of days, I allowed my unemployed self to vegetate slowly on the couch into accepting the reality of what I had done. After that, I went into overdrive mode in applying for jobs, and decided that I needed to get out of there.
So Portland it was. I reached out to my longtime and very dear friend Pree, who warmly responded that I could come to Portland and stay with her. This is, of course, all paraphrasing for the sake of a summary. The anxiety, stress, and sleeplessness I experienced over not having an income or an immediate plan for the future was overwhelming on an inhuman level. As someone who is overburdened with anxiety sometimes simply for the sake of anxiety (over-analyzing is a real gem quality to have!), this stage of the unemployment and major life changes was at its peak. What was the plan now? “Get to Portland and figure your shit out later.”
Pree was gracious enough to welcome me, my hound and my feline into their home. As it happened, her home was in the basement of an active and in-use Episcopalian church on the edges of a rougher neighborhood in mid-Portland in which rooms were made from previously occupied classrooms. There was a giddy, adventurous feeling to staying at the church. There I was, fresh into Portland, crammed into a tiny room with a dog, a cat, and as much of my things as I could possibly fit in there with me. Clothes lived in a basket. I had a makeshift pantry made out of a bookshelf. Thank god we had a restroom in the basement. The kitchen upstairs was wonderfully stocked with brand new-like stainless steel appliances. The shower was creatively fashioned out of a tub bucket, an old church pew, and a hose. There was no washer or dryer. It was an interesting and humbling experience staying there with them. We had busy schedules, but tried to meet for dinner, outings, and tv sessions (Sabrina the Teenage Witch and The Peaky Blinders) when we could.
A small piece of trivia relating to churches: This was not even the first church I had lived in. Catholic church in 2000. Six people (mom, dad, sisters), and two cats crammed into one room. That was an experience I hope to never relive.
Adventures came and went. I explored my new home as often as I could, venturing out around the neighborhood of the church and downtown when I could. Powell’s became a second home for me on the weekends. Salt and Straw was visited for ice cream, The Bipartisan was visited for coffee. Fuel Cafe was visited for brunch, Random Pie Bar was for pie, obviously, and also for cocktails. It did not take long for me to fall in love with the city.
In the midst of exploring my new home, I was looking for jobs like crazy and stressing about money and income sources. Interview after interview after interview. Scouring craigslist. Submitting resumes over and over. Painting on a plastic smile and reciting my scripted interview interactions over and over, sometimes five times a day. By the time I finally found a job (which happened to my audible relief and celebrating), only two weeks had passed since I quit my job in Spokane, packed my things and my pets up in my car, and moved across the state. I was so incredibly lucky to have found something so soon after arriving, and I’m happy to say I very much enjoy my place of employment this time. It was hard to believe such little time had passed while I was unemployed; with all of the mental anguish I thrust upon myself in that time, it had felt much longer.
Since moving to this wonderful city, I’ve been through so many adventures that I wish I could list them all. Terrifying interactions with homeless people, camping and trips to the beach, discovering wonderful little nooks here and there in the city. My instagram can probably tell a decent enough story. I love my new city.