An incredible long weekend away in California, spending time in a secluded cabin with our own private swimming hole. Nice to be out of the Pac NW for a change, and always good to see new places in a state that was once home before Portland.
I know we have a reputation for being a rainy state, but the fact is that we have more shrub steppe climate (dry with short, natural vegetation) than anything and the fires are raging out of control. We are SO grateful and thankful for all the other countries and states who are helping in this crisis. Please continue to pray for us. We need the wind to stop, and rain to fall!
My youngest sister, she spent formative years becoming a blue-eyed Chola in North Hollywood, such that by the time the family went back to the paternal ancestral home, troubles were bound to be the quarry. Walking home from school with the boys who weren’t white, while the boys who were shouted “race traitor." My sister, she started a gang with her friend, an upstairs neighbor, and they called it "Lonely Park." Their delicate hands go into an L and a P, an easy throw. Named for the park where no one but them would go. Charitable to call it a park, more a patch of freeway-adjacent grass. I spent most of my life next to one–a freeway–such that when we moved away, I didn’t know how to get a good night’s rest without the sound of cars and crashes. Never ask her if she feels the same.
More than half her life there, and what always gets me is that she says Portland’s still a mix, a little of everything. Every time I come up, it gets whiter and whiter, The Pearl like SOMA without the grit, a Chinatown with no fish funk or ginseng dirt. A city will divide itself like a junior high dancefloor, urban studies be damned, until the new girls who don’t know any better do the unimaginable and dance, because they don’t know the backstory. Friends there take what they can get. If my sister weren’t married, she and my parents would probably be homeless.
Was I lucky? I always ask myself. By the time I was sixteen, a taxpayer, no illusions. A forward-thinking history teacher told us that it was unlikely that we’d be homeowners, and I want to thank him. He had taken us to the Nixon Library where we were armed to argue with the docents over Laos. You’re lucky if someone tells you the truth; but doesn’t seem like anyone got told, does it? I was angry, but I was white, and what good was that? If you’re 16 and not angry, you’re doing it wrong. At some point, it became a permanent condition of being aware. None of this is new, No Great Society. But you know you hope for a real war on poverty, where no one dies, where everyone gets to go back to a real home. None of it is new. We all throw our signs for Lonely Park, and hope someone throws back.
The vitriol of Portlanders. Best keep quiet, lest they hear the Californian in your voice. Ask for “eye-talian” dressing, and they’ll take you as one of their poor relations. Smile a lot, look stoned. Portlanders are the nicest people you’ll ever want to meet. After New York, this is the goddamned end of the rainbow.