We parked across the street from the old house I used to live in, on NW 21st and Everett. We looked in my old window and the apartment was empty. We walked around a lot, and noticed businesses that had moved or gone, which wasn't unusual, but everything just felt different. I think it's because we're so used to our little apartment here in almost-Beaverton, sitting on our deck and playing on our computers and having to drive to get anywhere important. Downtown is closer. People look at you more, and say hi when they pass you on the sidewalk. People don't seem as annoyed in NW - downtown I'm sure they still do, but at least you don't see only yuppies in their SUVs running red lights so they can get to soccer practice. You see urban kids with chains and spiked collars and dyed-black hair along with the slutty girls in their Candies wedge sandals and tight miniskirts. Cory said it felt different because he'd never not smoked down there. Last time we went downtown we had Nate and Aaron with us, and they bummed cigarettes off Cory every half hour at least. We went to the Brazen Bean and waxed philosophical about trivial things, and I breathed in their secondhand smoke. Last night we walked more, and people-watched for the first time in a long time, and quietly made fun of the boys driving around in their souped-up VW bug sans muffler. I'd forgotten what it was like to sidestep drunk men staring at license plates like it was some sort of ancient cave-painting that HAS to have some kind of meaning.
Realizing how different downtown is from my everyday life now, I've begun wondering how difficult it'd be for us to break our lease and move to Corvallis. All Portland is to me now is a jumble of people and noises and smells, a novelty I can do without, except for an evening here and there. Corvallis caters to who I am now. Yes, Portland is a stones-throw away from me now, but it has all the side-effects of being a suburb - heavy traffic & high rent. I'd gladly suffer an occassional hour-and-a-half drive to have my night on the town.
I'm ready for Corvallis now. Downtown Portland probably hasn't changed as much as I have.