I decided in the last few months, as people may have heard, to leave my University job and give myself a year to concentrate on nothing but writing. Part of this includes trying to find a new place to be, to live, where I can thrive. Kearney, NE is not the most supportive place for creative types.
So, I went to Portland. Only for a week, but this was the first big vacation I’ve ever taken on my own. Sure, there have been a few weekends here and there, but this felt pretty major for me. And it wasn’t just a vacation; it was location scouting. Lucky for me, I have a few friends in Portland who showed me around and took me on adventures. C, and her hubby S, and A all took me by the hand and led this hick through the big city.
I saw many things, and went to many different places around the city. Portland is a fascinating place, and I really enjoyed my time there. And Powell’s books is now on my list of favorite places in the world. I managed to spend an entire week, drinking coffee daily, without once buying Starbucks. And, to everyone’s amusement, I inadvertently chose the busiest weekend of the year to visit, with a combination of the Rose Festival and Fleet Week. I’ll know better for next time.
As for moving there, I don’t know. Cities are such busy places, and I felt guilty anytime I tried to sit down in a coffee shop or my hotel room. I seemed to need to be out “doing” something, even if it was just wandering around the neighborhood. I know, that feeling would fade. But it just seemed there was too much to do. I know I didn’t see 1/100th of what there is to do.
I am a very quiet person. I like being around people, but I also like being able to get away from people.
I do need to say, the people I met are some of the most open people I’ve ever met. Concepts that are such a part of daily life here (Nebraska), like prudery and “proper” behavior are foreign there, but without any pressure on me to change. Everyone seemed very relaxed, at least among the people I spent time with.
There were other people, though, who seemed incapable of relaxation. They were so intent on being noticed, on being “different” or “strange” or trying to buck trends with other trends. I made the joke that I needed to buy a silly hat in order to fit in with the other people on my street. My hair is short, my beard is trimmed, my tattoos are few and hidden. I wear colors other than black, and I rarely feel the need to raise my voice. My pants are designed for comfort, not to engage in gender stereotype conflicts. I don’t make myself uncomfortable for the purpose of making other people uncomfortable. I don’t need the attention.
I saw so many people who were trying to hard for…something. I have no idea what. That much time and effort must have a purpose.
I think my next novel might be about hipsters.
As for finding…I’m finding more about myself than anything else. I know I’ve been wearing many masks for many years, mostly in an effort to protect myself from dangers that disappeared many years ago. I started breaking some of those masks on my recent trip to Las Vegas, and more in Portland. I haven’t broken them all yet, but I’m seeing a version of myself that disappeared a long time ago.