Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Pacific Northwest and Generation X

The Pacific Northwest is the region of the U.S. that has been most associated with Generation X, which is part of the reason I feel such a connection to this place.  I love Portland for the way that a paper cup of hot coffee warms up my hands as I stand in the soft rain and wait to cross the street.  I love this city for the way the air is full of the scent of Evergreens. 

From this overcast sky and the bridges over the rivers of Portland and Seattle, a way of life infiltrated our consciousness in the 1990s that was the antithesis to the 1980s - living more green and simplifying more.  Kurt Cobain talked about realizing how much happier we can be by going to a thrift store of pre-owned things and stumbling across an unexpected treasure instead of going into a nicer store with a lot of money to buy everything in sight.

Looking out at these streets, I think of all the Seattle Grunge Era bands that played here in these buildings just before they became famous - fighting back against the corporate machine with their guitar riffs.  Those were my teenage years.  I also think of all the Gen Xers like me that were twenty-somethings, finally done with college but with daunting student loans, making their way up these streets and up elevators to find temp jobs to hold us over one weekly paycheck at a time.  In those days, I used to look out through glass buildings at a view just like this when the sun was going down and the city lights were just starting to sparkle.  I'd dream of being a writer. 

When talking about success, Cobain mentioned that he was the happiest before the enormous fame came to him - when they would be playing live at some small venue, or when he was dreaming about how good things would be someday.  And this concept keeps coming into my life - that we spend a lot time thinking of the way things maybe will be or could be, but we can be happy now - that what we have now is enough. 

People always ask me how or why I ended up here ten years ago. There's a lot of reasons - the main one is that I knew in my heart that I was supposed to be here.  I came here with just a small car full of things and no job or place to live and I started a new life for myself.  The Pacific Northwest had always had a draw to me from the first time I visited here as a child looking out at the passing Evergreens on the winding mountain roads.  I love the way the lights reflect on the Willamette River as the soft dark blue glow covers the city.  I'm so happy I'm here.  I'm grateful for what I have learned from this corner of the world - where the land comes to an end and the Pacific Ocean laps up onto the shores. 

Night comes and the shining dots of light show you where the river's edge begins.  I love Portland. 

(c) 2013 photos and writing by Chloe - all rights reserved


Anonymous said...

Why did you choose Portland over Seattle? It's funny, all those grunge bands just passed me right on by. My music came around again- although not in the way I would have liked. I mean, Amy Grant was #10 in downloads this week, and #12 all around. Who'd have thunk that? If I'd have known that grunge music would be overruled by gangsta rap music, maybe I would have appreciated it more. Warm cup of coffee in a light rain sounds nice.


ChloeGXP said...

PF - There was a lot of music in our middle school years that just passed me right on by, too which was why I was glad when Grunge became available to the masses as we were starting high school - I was very ready for something new. We changed over from middle school to high school at about the same time that the era/culture was changing, so it's kind of interesting how both of those shifts coincided for us at the same time. And it's also nice when the old music we remember from our younger years comes back around again in a way that is new. Someday, like decades from now, you will appreciate Grunge. Just watch.

ChloeGXP said...

Oh, and to answer your question about why Portland over Seattle... even though I considered both places, that still, small voice in my heart said Portland. Now I see why - even though things were hard for a while after I got here, a lot of things worked out really well for me here. I feel like I met the people I was supposed to meet and that I keep meeting people here that I am supposed to meet - being here continuously seems providential. Portland is such a great city.