Where I Live

I live in a six story condominium in the shape of a U with approximately ten apartments on each of the three wings. There is a lovely garden on the first level, in the center of the three wings. Each morning I walk the hallway on my floor from one end to the other and, if I am not too tired, at night too.

I never see another person, the hall is as quiet as the middle of the Sahara. The door of each apartment is shut tight, in most cases locked. The inhabitants are as imprisoned as in any San Quentin cell. Were it not for my sociable wife, I’d never know who lives across the hall or down the way either. In the elevator I nod to those I don’t know and try to strike up a conversation with those I do.

Everything that happens happens inside the apartment. That is perfectly fine with me, as I am an introvert, hard of hearing, and try to deal with the pain in my back. So I sit in the chair at my desk and search for something to write about.

The Portland Streetcar stops across the street from the building’s main entrance. That is one of the attractive features of living in the neighborhood known at the Pearl District in NW Portland. The Streetcar runs on a round-trip route to the downtown area, Portland State University and what is known as the South Waterfront District.

In former times, the Pearl District consisted of vast warehouses, some of which were inhabited by local artists and a few stray mice. More recently the buildings have been renovated or torn down to make way for upscale condominiums.

The park across the main entrance of the building I live in has a community wading pool that in the summer is filled with toddlers and young children splashing around for hours on end. At the Streetcar stop there is an ice cream parlor known as Cool Moon. It is one of the most popular shops in all of the great state of Oregon. If you don’t mind waiting a few minutes, you can treat yourself to one or more of about 30 different flavors.

I first moved to this neighborhood about 15 years ago. I felt somewhat of an urban pioneer. There were only a couple of apartment houses then. Soon thereafter a building spree began; now there are numerous high rise condominiums for the countless individuals who are moving to Portland. Nearby are a wide variety of boutique shops, galleries and upscale restaurants.

Powell’s Bookstore is a short walk away and in the days when I was more mobile than I am now, I’d go there every day. Some consider Powell’s the best bookstore in this country. It is surely one of the largest. Reading a good book during the long, wet, and cold winters in this town is one of the reasons it’s so popular.

People usually visit Portland during the few months of summer there are here. This is a terrible mistake for everything appears so inviting then. So they sell their homes, pack up their furniture and head this way. Then the rains begin, the cloudy days stay around for weeks on end and it is often cold enough to snow. I wonder if they begin to have second thoughts about their decision and if a sense of buyer’s remorse takes hold of them.

Nevertheless, they remain here, contribute their share to the city’s air pollution, traffic congestion, and rising housing costs. Meanwhile, I yearn for warm climes and sunny days. Unfortunately, my life-long partner cannot imagine living anywhere else, so I am stuck with this city in the far Northwest of this land and her warm countenance.

Happy holidays to all.