There is a certain exhilaration that comes with being in the city. Specifically Portland, specifically staying in my friends wood- floored- window seat- fire escape- perfect apartment on NW 23d above a little coffee shop.
The crooning voice of a ukulele player on the steps across the street mixes with the laughter of late night salt & straw goer's, and there is a perpetual sense of movement and energy in the air.
I find myself smiling big and often as I walk the 20 blocks to the bookstore, on the hunt for Warsan Shire, Anis Morjgani, and Shane Koyczan. As I walk, I people watch. Every stereotype about Portlanders can be seen in one form or another, from tattooed man-bun sporting bikers riding fixies with Chrome backpacks to septum ring- blue haired- gender non binary babes with intersectional feminism pins speckled across their denim jackets.
The energy of this city is as vibrant as it is draining, and the intense joy of being around all this humanity is balanced out by the slowly encroaching feeling of claustrophobia, the realization that I can't just walk into the mountains, and the persistent presence of unwanted memories of my time spent living here, happy and sad and in love. A persistent nostalgia which haunts me like a malignant shadow even as I smile at the various succulents in shop windows or bask in overheard conversations about the psychological side effects of veganism.
I must go back to the mountains soon.