Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Appreciating A Sense of Place

I know with age, maturity and experience comes a deeper appreciation of things, both simple and complex.  I have really been noticing over the past few months what a deep appreciation I now have of “place.”  Don't misunderstand, I have always appreciated the beauty of my surroundings – and was hugely grateful for the view I once had of the Seattle skyline and Puget Sound.  I have never been deeply attached to actual physical dwellings – like my homes.  I appreciated them, but am the type who enjoys moving – wait, no – not the actual moving process – but being in a new place, so did not particularly attach to houses.

I have long considered Seattle my home town. It is where I was born, but left when I was five and did not return to until after undergraduate school.  I have always loved Puget Sound, Mt. Rainier, the San Juan Islands – all the amazing water places.  When it came to decide where to take the bar exam, I really went back and forth – Washington or Oregon?  Casey and I used to talk about returning to Seattle, so Washington was a serious consideration.  I had made a lot of legal contacts down here though, plus we had a home, and a life closer to Oregon. Also, the Portland legal community is closer-knit than the big city of Seattle and has a really good reputation for collegiality. 

I suspect there are several things at play – such as moving out of a nice house, and living in people’s spare rooms for 6 months, and then living in a small one-bedroom apartment with homeless folks roaming outside my window and the smell of urine permeating my garage, that make me very aware of  “place” now.  I am sensitive to my personal surroundings, and also the geography.  More and more I realize that I love Portland. I am gaining a greater appreciation of the history, the beauty, the personality, and the livability of this city.  I fought the idea for years – I lived across the river in Washington, damnit, not Oregon, and I was not a Portlander.  Now, I am, or at least, I am becoming one.

Living in the apartment was a perfect way to sample a local neighborhood and really get a feel for city life. It was not “downtown” – as in among the skyscrapers – but definitely inner-city if you are used to the suburbs.  I could easily walk to stores, coffee shops, restaurants, a mall, and the light rail system. I loved it,  so did Vicki, and so did the kids – so when an opportunity to move into a great place just three blocks from the apartment came up, we jumped.  I really, really like the new house – lots of “old house” personality, so much room compared to the tiny apartment (nothing makes you appreciate space like not having it), and great neighbors. Everyone walking by is so friendly, happy to introduce themselves and share things about who else is in the neighborhood. They clearly love it there.

If often find myself driving to work, or out on a walk simply appreciating the views.  The skyline is interesting, the historic buildings have character, the river and bridges are beautiful.  This is a great place to live!  I am very grateful for this opportunity to live and work in such a wonderful place.  My commute is between 6-11 minutes, depending on how I hit the lights. How fantastic is that??  The river is still no Puget Sound, but I think I can be content visiting Seattle – at this point, it feels more like a nice place to visit than to actually live.

Here are a few photos I have taken on my camera on those days I was just out enjoying the city. If you are a FB friend, you have probably seen these - but here they are again!

1 comment:

Lynilu said...

It's nice to belong, isn't it? Sometime it comes quickly, as it did for me when I moved here; other times it has to grow on us. Whichever way it comes about, it is such a warm feeling. Enjoy!