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I’m guessing it’s not Portland’s fault. I mean, she trotted out her finest allergens, her strongest sun. She put on her cutest dress and finest perfume, and well, I’m just not feeling it. Too squee, too perfect, too many smiling happy people drinking coffee and loving life and showing off their tattoos on bony shoulders and legs bared to the sunshiny day we’ve all been provided.

Maybe it’s because it feels like Mr. Roger’s neighborhood, or because everyone wants to talk to me, about my burrito, my coffee, because they step out of the frame when I’m taking pictures, or because Seattle felt so strangely homey to me and Portland is just decidedly not Seattle.

It certainly wasn’t waking up on the wrong side of the couch or catching up with old friends or the fabulous southern-style meal I had last night at The Screen Door or either of the two editors I have either seen or will see by the time today it’s over, nor is it the awesome berries or the great cups of coffee, or that they offered me non-dairy “sour cream” on my burrito that I got in Pioneer Courthouse Square at lunchtime today, partway through my megawalk from Hawthorne into upper NW, where I currently am.

Something about Portland that you may or may not know is the fact that I lived here before. A very long time ago. Which is funny, because it’s faded to this weird stain on my memory where I don’t really get the feeling of the city, but at the same time, half the restaurants I pass are places I’ve eaten. An Indian place here, a burrito place there, Jarra’s Ethiopian, endless coffee shops, the Brasserie Montmarte, where I went with my high school prom date’s parents when they came to visit, Jake’s Famous Crawfish, where we went when my family was here visiting me, and they made me a vegan feast when I was going through that phase.

And an unnoteworthy Thai restaurant that popped up out of nowhere this morning on my walk, and bit me in the subconscious reminding me of why I woke up strangely on my last morning in Seattle. I planned this trip to Portland without thinking about my ex, with whom I used to live here. And 99% of the time, that is a blip on my memory screen, but I’ve been retelling the story to old friends lately, and feeling sensitive, five-plus years out. And Portland is gorgeous, stunning, adorable, perfect, bicycle-embracing, quirky and perfect. And I’m happy to be here for two days, and I will be just as happy to get on that 17-hour train trip and get the hell out of here.

Three years was enough. Pictures to follow, I hope.