By Melissa Lupo
A last minute trip to the wild, wild west, Portland, Oregon was the perfect place to dip in and get my feet wet after so many years away from the US.
Thanks to the hit TV show, Portlandia, the place of my birth has been getting more than just a little attention as of late so I was curious to see what still remained of my childhood memories and what may have been washed away, in this city of rain.
More than anything, Portland is famous for the weather because seriously, It rains there all. the. time. It may seem a dreary sight at first but for writers and artists alike, it can be an inspiring mecca where the moody temperatures and open-minded people leave your imagination to wander.
A friendly leopard that champions for sufferers of Mal-Adaptive Daydreaming, salmon everything, sprawling food truck villages, and vibrant murals to combat the stubborn grey, did not disappoint. This and the fact that marijuana is completely legal made for a unique experience that I think is worth a trip over.
A quick stop to see one of my favorite lady-chefs, Nat Gullish, executive sous at restaurant “Q” made me feel right at home since she had spent some time cooking in Italy and was part of the Rome Sustainable Food Project at the American Academy in Rome, working alongside our big “Behr” of a chef, Chris Behr, that we interviewed a year ago. Chatting it up with her after service over a perfectly dry martini made me feel right at home and even gave me some genius ideas for a future collaboration.
That said, if you’re looking for a fashion capital, a quick scan of the city’s residents may have you running the other way. But that would be a grave mistake. Because while it may be true that the city’s sulky style may have run out Saks Fifth Avenue and being that Louis V is LITERALLY the only designer store in town, there is one element not to be overlooked: this city has the most lush second-hand and vintage selection at ridiculous prices I have ever seen, and it is only getting better.
I remember being a kid in the Hawthorne district and visiting the Italian deli with mom and going to scour vintage shops nearby. It used to make me mad, mostly because back then, it was just called being “poor”. But now it is a fashionistas dream, and if I may say, you aren’t really looking at a lot of local competition for the good stuff.
This is a city that brings “being green” to a whole ‘nother level but the Birkenstock-clad trail trampers did not throw me off. It’s a foodie paradise that might even give San Francisco or New York a run for it’s money. The chefs here are saavy and do not settle for less than local and these are values that are clearly shared by the mavericks of food-truck-landia too.
With headquarters like Nike, Adidas and Wieden + Kennedy, Portland has earned it’s place on the map, somehow bringing together classic small-town Americana with a daringly deviant edge.
For those who desire a taste for the true American life, Portland feels like a safe choice and place to push the limits too. So dig into the Pacific Northwest, and don’t bring an umbrella, a rookie move at best. Only then will you understand what it means to let your freak flag fly, and to learn to dance in the rain.