City Girl

I am realizing that my 30's seem to be full of ownership. I am learning to "own" myself--all those little things about me that I have suppressed or pushed away in order to fall into some ideal. Those ideals rarely come from within.

Perhaps it's really about coming full circle. It's definitely about finding myself--not the journey, or the search to finding myself (as in the years leading up to now), but actually finding me. Like, "Oh, HEY, there you are!! I've been looking for you!"

I've always fancied myself a country girl--even growing up in Portland (above is my name in the bricks at Pioneer Square), we lived in a secluded neighborhood with horses and a little orchard. There was no real sense of 'the city' unless we went downtown. This was supplemented by visiting my mom out in the country every other weekend, and for long stretches in the summer and on holidays. I moved in with my mom at the age of 14 (after getting into too much trouble hanging around downtown Portland), and lived the country life during most of high school, and I loved it. I loved the elements, the animals, the vast swaths of fields and rolling hills, the freedom.

And then I moved to Sydney, a city packed with over a million people (at the time--that was 14 years ago). I was overwhelmed and completely in love. The tall buildings and crush of so many cultures just swallowed me up and held me tight. There are still details of those buildings that I think of often.

I only stayed in Sydney one year (oh, I wish it had been longer...), then moved to Adelaide. While it was smaller, there is such a rich and vibrant artist community there that I didn't mind. The galleries were fantastic, and I was working with incredible contemporary artists. With occasional visits to Melbourne to visit friends, I was able to get in that truly big, dingy city vibe. There's something so brash, edgy, and unapologetic about Sydney and Melbourne. They really are incredible.

Moving back to Hood River after living abroad, and living in cities, was a rough transition. I struggled. I returned after 4 years to a changed town where all the people seemed different and strange. As much as I loved the beauty of the scenery, and access to the outdoors, I realized there was no room to grow there. I probably would have stuck it out if I hadn't gotten into OCAC, but I'm glad I did. OCAC brought me home to Portland.

So here I am. Finally admitting that I am a City Girl. I love the crush of cultures, the tiny details in all the old buildings. I love the bridges and freeways. Our library system is phenomenal. There is beauty everywhere. I can eat at any number of restaurants I want, go to museums and galleries, run out and buy jewelry supplies on a whim. I can visit Powells, my favorite bookstore that I practically grew up in. Everything is at my fingertips. And, Portland being Portland, I have plenty of access to mountains, rivers, and rolling hills.

Recently, we went to the Portland Art Museum, where I got to see some incredible work. Richard Mosse's The Enclave was out of this world. I want to go back and see it again, and really immerse myself in it.

Chris Antemann's Forbidden Fruit was a stunning display of detail, talent, and some serious naughtiness. Everyone had to wait for me while I gawked at all the details. "Look at all the tiny fruit! Look there's a tea set! Did you guys see??"

 As part of a Blue Sky Gallery retrospective at the museum, I got to see one of Nan Goldin's sets of photos. Goldin has been a true force of reckoning in the photography world, displaying life's real underbelly--raw and unyielding.  When I was a young art student, with a minor in photography, her work amazed me.

 Last but not least, I found out that the museum now has a display of Meso-American artifacts! There are nose ornaments, body adornment, and even a few Colima ceramics. It's an incredible collection.

So there you have it. I am a city girl. I love the crush of cultures, the diversity, the conversations, the coffee. Part of my heart will always live in the country--those moments when I get out there fill me with peace. It's where I recharge, find quietude, find my roots. But the city gives me opportunities, allows my ever-busy mind to be constantly engaged, and to explore a side of myself that simply doesn't fit in that country life (for now, at least).

I think a lot of this came up because we've been talking about moving to San Diego, and I got all excited because of the different cultures and architecture and colors. It made me realize how much I love it all. How much I've always loved it all.



  1. I know what you mean. I feel like I've completely found myself in my 30's, Is it, I wonder, a transitional point in life where one realises that conforming is exhausting and being oneself is much more rewarding spiritually? It's felt that way for me for sure. I'm the same as you with regards to city dwelling. I love nature of course, but I feel the call of the city so much more strongly, especially now that I'm back in Oxford, UK my most favourite city and the place where I left my heart nigh on 10 years ago. I love the bustle and I love walking down the high street and hearing so many different languages around me, and I love the culture, It's good to be home :-)


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