Friend Walter Money, who has been living in Cleveland, shares his yearnings to return to the City of Roses. He plans to visit in April.
What is there about a place that brings so much to it? What causes such an attraction that people will come from great distances; move their entire lives, families, goods and services to arrive in this place? What then will bring these people back after leaving; after living in this place, growing and learning and living, then finding their lives continue elsewhere and leaving the place? What brings me back?
Is it the web of interwoven highways and byways? Have I been enraptured by the hypnotic hum and drum of daily traffic? Do I miss the addiction of hyperhectic superhighway gridlock? Or is it the gift of intelligent movement of morning and evening commute in well-planned and well executed interlocking mass transit with a most polite and gentle herd of fellow travelers?
Is it the stricture of structures, the amassing of massive vertical and unceasingly horizontal monotony? Do I miss the building of buildings of monotonous similarity? Or is it the uniqueness of creative suddenness happening without predilection? How do I describe the brick fish high on the most unexpected wall? What do I say of the art strewn about the walkways throughout the city? How to describe the evening light on bridges reflected in constantly flowing waterflows, or the dawn light on well-planned monolithic art, housing corporate entities in pastel beauty?
What is the attraction of this place? Is it the underlying earth? Is there a mystifying magnetism that draws me back from such a great distance that I long to see the memories renewed so long cherished? Is it the primeval volcanic cones covered with ancient and vibrant growth that brings me back to see and smell the delicate and fragile aromas and vistas of this place? Or the dawn silhouette of an ice-covered granite massive in the near distance? Is it the nearness of mountains, beaches, high deserts, primordial rain forests and ultra urban concrete that mixes my mind and draws my return?
Is it the people that bring so much and so little? Do I miss the panhandlers on every damn street corner, begging for what they do not have and will not earn? Or is it the suit-coated short pants in tennis shoes headed to his board meeting? Is it the skirted husband herding his brood on the train, the cross-dressed transvestite so damned attractive, or the skin art visible on every barista in every coffee shop? Are the crowds headed to and from mass transit, all looking down, on their cells, in their worlds, leaving and left alone what I miss and what draw me back?
I think it is the friends I left, the true and firm connections to my heart that bring me back to this place. It is the learning and teaching that I miss, the sharing of my knowledge and ignorance, the openness of my willingness to grow and learn new pathways that I miss, and that draws me to return. It is the most excellent coffee, the most perfect beer, the highest and most preeminent cuisine available to mankind that I miss. It is the fellowship of authentic listeners to the quiet truth of life, and the participation in that fellowship that brings me back home. I miss seeing the snow on the mountain in the morning, the light on the bridges, the rock and sway of the trains and buses, the aroma of the city waking, nooning, and leaving for other life that brings me back. It is the knowledge that the markets will awake, the bookstores and gifting shops will open their doors, and the presence of my loved friends will be within the boundaries of this place that brings me back.
I will come home again.
Labels: Portland, Sense of Place, Walter Money