Thursday, July 10, 2008

Goodbye Portland

"I grieve to leave my native land
and I grieve to leave my comrades all
my parents who I hold so dear
and that bonny, bonny lassie that I do so adore"

- Farewell Nova Scotia (Traditional)
It's been just over a week since I left Portland, and what can I possibly say except that I miss you all, I miss my home, and I miss the closeness of community that I will likely never feel so keenly again. With all that I miss, and all that I've forlornly left behind, it's also good to be away. Leaving throws into sharp relief everything that you love about a place, and lets you appreciate it from a fresh perspective, even as it inevitably begins to fade, never to be so vividly real again. One of the bittersweet parts of this summer vacation, and all my various travels, is that it's also a eulogy for my five years in Portland, Maine. I'll be back visiting, but at least for the short and the medium-term, my time as a resident of Portland is over. Even if I do move back at some point, and that could very well happen, I'll be older and the city will have naturally turned over many familiar faces and places.

I'm lucky though, I got to spend five years as a young man in a place that had a vibrancy and culture that I'll always treasure. My Portland, circa 2003-2008, filled with memories. My sister and I were at a free swap-meet my second day here in Portland, Oregon, and found an autobiographical comic book written by a woman who owned Portland, Maine several years before I did and left in 2001-2oo2. It's really interesting because she laments leaving a different community than the one I knew, and the turnover of different businesses and places that I remember from when I would visit Portland as a teenager (Zoots, anyone?) but never went frequently enough to develop a strong connection. By contrast, one of my most treasured possessions is my Casco Bay Books coffee mug; CBB will always be Portland to me.

There's a lot more that I want to write about leaving Portland, about leaving Maine, about leaving a beloved community, and to a certain extent about leaving my identity as a young man making a young man's mistakes. There's a lot more I want to write about the possibility of returning, taking a line from an Atmosphere song, "Leaving doesn't have to mean leave the love/roam if you must/but come home when you've seen enough." There's a lot more I want to write about being in Portland, Oregon, which is an incredibly rewarding, restful, and inspiring place. But hey, blog posts are supposed to be short, right?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Beautiful tribute, Sam. I've been thinking a lot about Portland lately and what it means to me, mainly because I just passed my three year anniversary of living here. Because of that, I've also been thinking similar thoughts about Laramie. I miss that place sometimes but the nostalgia faded fast because I never was able to bloom there like was able to in Portland. I'm getting Portstalgia right now thinking about it!