portland dazeMay 9, 2017
Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein made me do it.
Freshman year it was LA. Sophomore year it was Europe. Junior year it was Puerto Rico.
Think to yourself: if “last spring break!!! of college!!! forever!!!” were a destination, what would it be? Not Portland, that’s for sure. Also, important clarification: and by Portland, I mean Portland, Oregon — yuppie utopia, vinyl wonderland, where cold brew is a blood type, brunch a sacred religion and Lyft drivers double as spiritual life coaches. OH and land of ~$7 cocktails~ that make you question your overpriced NYC existence. So, basically: not Portland, Maine.
I’d also like to mention that Portland makes for the perfect last-minute getaway. "Last minute" as in booking a red-eye to PDX from JFK, spontaneously dropping $50 on rain boots and feeling your Californian soul shatter to pieces and sending love letters to numerous Airbnb hosts in hopes of nabbing the ultimate bungalow (spoiler alert: it happens). But at that rate, I didn’t care — I just wanted an excuse to escape the city and savor my last moments of undergrad freedom. Sorry Punta Canta — you had my heart (and credit card) for a hot minute right there, but then I remembered Portlandia. Hipster television of my dreams.
- Land in Portland some time around midnight. Airport is ominously quiet. Air strangely feels "fresh". Remember that it's 3 AM back in NYC — AKA your preferred haunting hour/time of the night where you're most likely downing a hard liquor and crying about your dating woes at a gentrified Williamsburg bar
- Your Lyft driver is also from LA. Pleasantries are exchanged about weather and traffic — the classic combo. "It's chill here," he claims. He will also ask what Seamless is. As a NYC transplant, you are unsure how to explain such a sacred concept to him
- Arrive at your Airbnb — location: Hawthorne Boulevard in SE Portland. Every "house" is really a bungalow and you are amazed at the endless stretch of concrete unspoiled by New Yorkers walking at a speed of 90 mph. You also suspect that your Airbnb host really likes gardening
- Be forced into sleep-deprived small talk your Airbnb host. Unofficially brand her as the hippie witch cat lady on Hawthorne. Your quarters: a quaint corner bedroom on the first floor that somehow smells like your uncle's house in suburban Paris. Moment of redemption: she has a (black!) cat named Athena (you'll later give a five-star rating solely for Athena)
- Get a ~good night's rest~, which means approximately five hours of sleep
- Expect to have unusually intimate conversations with every Portlandian. Not limited to:
- The Bartender Who Belongs In Brooklyn: Listens to shoegaze and likes Bushwick. Asks your roommate why she is swiping on Tinder at the bar. Gives you a free. plate. of. fries. Bartender's choice: something with tequila
- The Woodstock Hippie Lyft Driver: Was told she was going to die of brain cancer at age thirty-two. Follows Bob Dylan on tour and moves to NYC with her dog and a guitar. Is told she is not going to die of brain cancer. Moves to Miami to become a cocktail waitress and learns how to do kamikaze shots with tourists. Wants to adopt foster dogs and children. Tells me I have "good energy" and that she hopes we'll "run into each other in another lifetime"
- The Lyft Driver From Montana: Just moved to Portland from Montana.
- The Buffalo Exchange Employee Who Went To Coachella "First": Originally from San Diego. Owns a place in Palm Springs. Thinks Coachella is "overrated" nowadays
- Leather Jacket Guy Sitting At The Bar: Once lived in LES with his ex-wife in the '80s. Doesn't seem to realize that LES in the '80s is the opposite of 2017 LES.
- The Barista At Five Points: Thinks your look is "cool"
- As a lifestyle blogger turned cosmopolitan travel writer probably once said: "brunch is a blood sport in Portland". They were not kidding:
- For a temporary Scandanavian getaway, Broder on SE Clinton is the spot for Swedish brunch — try the aebeleskive (pancake balls dipped in ligonberry jam goodness) or the very Insta-worthy brekkie board (also, Bloody Marys — if you're into that sorta thing)
- Come to Jam On Hawthorne for real, authentic Portland locals getting their rainy brunch fix and heaping portions of Nutella French toast, hashbrowns and eggs — American breakfast fare to the max
- Tin Shed is brunch in your grandmother's garden — don't skip out on homemade buttermilk biscuits and rosemary mushroom gravy (also, when in doubt, order the Naughty, not the Nice)
- It is perfectly acceptable to Google "why does every restaurant in Portland have Secret Aardvark Hot Sauce???? And is it really better than Cholula???"
- One must only order coffee with macadamia nut milk
- Buy Beach Boys and Allah-Las on vinyl even though you don't own a record player (but swear one day you will)
- No one believes you are 22 and will card you. Every. Single. Time.
- Re-invent your whole wardrobe/apartment because thrifting in Portland is a magical experience and you will ~likely~ go broke:
- Zig Zag Wanderer: '60s and 70s pysch threads HEAVEN. Smells like incense. Soundtrack is a heavenly loop of Mamman Sani. Locally-made fragrances, healing crystals and retro postcards
- Red Light Clothing Exchange: Expect to spend 39048248 hours rummaging through the racks. A healthy amount of perfectly worn-in band tees. A guy you went on one date with will text you in the dressing room and ask if you if you're free Wednesday at 1:15 AM
- Living Threads Vintage: Higher price range, carefully curated selection. End up nabbing a '70s striped long sleeve for just $25 which also smells decidedly '70s
- Crushed rose petals on wet pavement make for excellent photography
- Warning: that one white man at the Portland Japanese Garden lecturing you on "Asian culture" because, as an Asian-American, you absolutely have no background knowledge
- Befriend a guy from NYC who is in Portland for a job interview. He'll drown you in Yelp recommendations for Upper West Side bars (his 'hood) and you'll bond over a mutual love for the algorithm for Spotify's Discover Weekly playlists (he will also have a girlfriend)
- Pro-tip: Flying Cat Coffee has breakfast burritos for $6 and you will quickly discover the edible definition of pornography
- Realize you are a weak human being when your roommate convinces you to download Tinder social for one night. Drown in a sea of regret when you see 329048 mutuals from high school who have since moved to Portland
- It is perfectly acceptable to spend 30 minutes in front of a neon art piece at the Portland Art Museum for the perfect Snapchat as other tourists judge you
- Your living nightmare is Blue Star's Mexican chocolate donut that is offensive to donuts everywhere and suddenly you would commit crime for Krispy Kreme
- Is it dinner time already?
- Pok Pok: Overrated, but you can pretend you are in a tropical Thai beach village for one night. The mango-coconut-vodka liquid concoction that was a better idea on paper. Honorary mention to the spicy Vietnamese (?) fish sauce wings that one should never eat on a first date, unless emergencies/cravings call. Suddenly you cannot stop thinking about your long awaited backpacking trip to SE Asia (one day...)
- Por Que No: For surprisingly quality tacos that fulfill your never-ending desire for all things Mexican. Margaritas should come with a warning "do not text any boy after consumption" label. Guac is passing, ceviche satisfying.
- Lechon: For you want to want to feel ~adult~ and have your first Argentine food experience. Pick your poisons wisely — Mal Humorado for reposado tequila, habanero and pineapple or El Vicente for mezcal and aperol. Debate if the couple next to you is a cougar/boy toy situation and feel shivers go down your spine when you see her stroking his cheek
- From the Lyft driver who tried to self-promote his blog numerous times during the car ride: "Voodoo Donuts is overrated."
- Constantly complain about how everything in NYC is so expensive compared to Portland while simultaneously paying for said prices and never learning how to set a weekly budget
- Get mistaken as a native Portlandian twice (reasoning: going umbrella-less in the rain)
- Pineapple gummies will never quite be the same for you ever again
- Have your world collapse when you discover that Fred Armisen only lived in Portland during the summers to film Portlandia and feel betrayed by Hollywood and celebrity culture as a whole
And for a more visual recap of my Portland getaway...