Moving To A New Place Essay

Thursday, February 17, 2022 4:42:43 PM

Moving To A New Place Essay



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It was nice. At some point my wife and I started talking in a semiserious way about moving back to Portland for good. Beyond the family connection were the things drawing everyone else to Portland. The city combines the delectable slowness of a small town, the conveniences of a bigger city, and the unspoiled beauty of the Far West. As workers in every other American city ran endless sprints on the treadmill of success, Portland seemed to have extracted the best that capitalism had to offer while escaping the attendant neuroses. Where else outside Europe can you find open-air pubs crowded with good-looking people drinking pilsner at 2 o'clock on a weekday?

As lifetime 'ers, this all struck my wife and me as being very much in line with our scheduling and budgetary needs. The fact that we were even talking about moving back meant that my parents were on the verge of hitting the child-rearing jackpot. They had left us alone to make up our own minds, and there we were, coming around to doing what they'd secretly hoped we would.

There was one problem. The image I carried around of Portland as an idyllic refuge, far removed from the troubles of the outside world, was getting harder and harder to maintain. My beloved, obscure hometown had somehow become a city-sized meme, a punchy example deployed across the political spectrum to prove any number of points. First there was "Portlandia," the TV show, which skewered the town's smugness and guilt-ridden hypocrisies.

Then, after the election, downtown Portland became a stage for clashes between the far left mostly locals , the far right who commuted in for regular Patriot Prayers , and social-media entrepreneurs, such as Andy Ngo, who made their reputations by exaggerating and fomenting chaos under the guise of documenting it. As the protests dragged on and the local economy worsened, the semipermanent tent cities used by Portland's homeless population expanded, occupying the blank spaces around parks and highways. They became an unavoidable fixture of the boarded-up downtown, which had been diminished first by the protests and then by the pandemic.

Even the planet itself seemed to turn on Portland: Air temperatures this summer reached degrees Fahrenheit. The asphalt on the corner of Woodstock and 92nd hit , hot enough to cause third-degree burns. It was a completely normal, get-to-know-you pleasantry. But when I answered "Portland," Brownback abruptly shifted gears. You know any of those antifa? At the time, I wrote the moment off as a geriatric brain fart. I was wrong. Brownback wasn't losing it; he was throwing a jab. What I failed to discern was the clue that his flicker of aggression offered me about Portland's new position in the Republican cinematic universe. He saw me as a hostile emissary from a liberal Sodom, a city deserving of divine wrath, a place where Democrats allowed, or perhaps encouraged, black-bloc anarchists to run wild.

From the eschatological God's-eye view, as seen from Homeland Security surveillance drones and interpreted by the policy prophets of Fox News, Portland was a city pining for its own destruction. Long before Portland's national cult, there was a local cult. Attempts to indoctrinate me began early. When I was 6 years old, the city fathers trucked my grade-school class downtown, where we sang hymns before Portlandia, a newly installed statue depicting a six-ton bronze goddess. In one hand she held a trident; her other hand extended downward, offering a bridge between the pedestrian and the sublime. Each student in my class had composed a verse praising a different jewel in Portland's urban crown: Powell's Books, Rose Festival, Forest Park, the city's odd four-armed sidewalk drinking fountains.

My assignment was the Japanese Gardens, which I proclaimed an "oasis of tranquility. The original Portlandia was known as the Queen of Commerce. She first appeared on the city's seal in , when Portland was a booming frontier town nestled on the Willamette River. The myth of Portlandia could be understood as the hope that capitalism and nature could be reconciled and cultivated into something like the city's International Rose Test Garden, beautiful and stable, where anyone can stop and sniff exotic hybrids with names like Sixteen Candles and Chrysler Imperial.

Until very recently, Portland seemed like the rare place that demonstrated such alchemy was possible. For a time, Portland was also cheap, cheap enough for a group of skateboarders to commandeer a parking lot underneath the Burnside Bridge and build an illegal skatepark. Cheap enough for weirdo storefronts like the Hour Church of Elvis and the UFO Museum, where I would spend late afternoons in high school perusing the clock-filled Freud Room and trying to talk the proprietor, Lex Loeb, into letting me open a museum-endorsed Alien Shoeshine Stand.

These pre-internet enterprises were a bit like Portlandia herself. They seemed to run on their own solipsistic vapor. The rent was still only a few hundred dollars a month. The firm's synthesis of the Western-frontier myth with early-aughts hipsterdom reached its apotheosis with the Levi's "Pioneers" campaign, featuring "Western youths" in blue denim romping through meadows, dancing under waterfalls, and making love to the voiced-over words of Walt Whitman. Before, those buildings contained machine shops that supplied the Gunderson shipyard and the Swigert family's steelworks. Now, their transformation would set the stage for Portland's second utopian phase. What was once a delicate garden of provincial gentility would soon be held up as a national symbol of enlightened progressive life.

Of course, Portland's utopian turn was problematic long before the city was singled out for a federal takeover by the very stable coup-averse president of the United States. The story of Portland is wrapped up in the bloody conquest of the West. All manner of terrible things took place as the old grounds were cleared to make way for the new garden. Native peoples were forced off their homeland and onto small reservations.

Chinese immigrants were brutally exploited to build the railroads. Under the first state constitution, Black citizens could not vote, sign contracts, hold real estate, or go to court. The Ku Klux Klan, a prominent force in state politics through the s, held public rallies and won seats in the state legislature. These openly racist policies, combined with private acts of terrorism, left a permanent legacy. Today, Portland's population is only 5. Once, just north of the city, there was a mostly Black settlement called Vanport, along the low-lying banks of the Columbia River. It was destroyed by a flood in and never rebuilt.

Portland's homogeneity allowed it to mostly avoid the race riots and white flight that hit more diverse Eastern cities during the s and '70s. In the aftermath of George Floyd's murder, it also made the city an appealing target for the Sam Brownbacks and Tucker Carlsons of the world. Attacking Portland offered a way to tear-gas streets full of angry white liberals, thus maintaining the crucial fiction that "law and order" had nothing to do with race. My parents still talk about a holiday party they attended in the '70s, before I was born. One of their colleagues was married to a police officer, who had invited some of his own friends from work. After drinks and some mingling in the host's finished basement, one of the off-duty police officers turned on a record player, took out an album with some swastikas on the cover, and played the Nazi Party anthem.

The group formed a line and started goose-stepping up and down the floor. My parents decided it was time to go. The affinity of a few Portland police officers for Nazis has since surfaced publicly from time to time. But what strikes me about the basement story is not the sedition so much as the reckless innocence. It's one thing to play Nazi with your friends; it's another thing to do it at a party in front of strangers, one of whom happens to be a Jewish lawyer. There's a thread that runs through the police-officer goosestep, the Hour Church of Elvis, and "Portlandia.

Portland weirdness is cultural deviation that mutates along specific lines because it doesn't encounter any friction. This is a different kind of ferment from the generativity of a crossroads like New Orleans or Philadelphia. For a while, Portland was the cultural equivalent of the Galapagos Islands, a place where you could see new species of weirdness arising from uniformity and isolation. Weird is not necessarily bad. The coexistence of these various subcultural pods within the same park was due mostly to the psycho-geography of empty space. Alberta Park is nearly 17 acres.

Each pod could spread out without bumping up against the next one. It's hard to say how much of this is Portland specific and how much is the persistent lure of the West, the vacuum of unclaimed space that sucks up all of the country's random dreams and puts them on parade. The westward stream of covered wagons never really stopped. Yesterday it was oxen fording the Columbia; today it's the broken-down Winnebagos squatting beneath I-5 and the Ram ProMasters, full of van-lifing millennials hashtagging their way up the Columbia Gorge. I wasn't in Portland for the George Floyd protests. Watching them from my home, in Washington, DC, Trump's actions in Portland seemed both criminally irresponsible and tactically astute.

What looked at first to be extreme and unconsidered measures succeeded in provoking his enemies into discrediting themselves. In Portland, this took the form of what Brownback called "antifa," a small group of committed radicals who set fires and break windows in the pursuit of unattainable, and often unarticulated, goals. I challenge any one here to race with me. Set out the resolution. After showing the nature and details of the conflict, begin moving the story towards its resolution. Make sure there is a resolution to every aspect of the problem previously established and that there are no loose ends. Referring again to the fable of the tortoise and the hare, the resolution comes when the boastful hare races ahead and then stops to take a nap, while the level-headed tortoise simply plods along, eventually passing the sleeping hare and beating him to the finish line.

Articulate the lesson. When the plot of the fable has resolved itself, set out the moral or lesson of the story. In fables, the moral of the story is typically stated in a single, pithy sentence. The simple moral of the tortoise and the hare, for example, is, "After that, Hare always reminded himself, "Don't brag about your lightning pace, for slow and steady won the race! Choose a creative and relevant title. Part 3. Review and revise. Read back through your fable in its entirety and verify that all the pieces are in place and work in harmony. Watch out for places where the fable may be overly wordy or complicated.

Verify that each piece--setting, character, conflict, resolution, and moral--is clearly established and easily understandable. Edit for grammar and style. For a guide to making sentence-level edits, go here. Recruit a friend or colleague to read over your text. A second set of eyes is often key to catching errors. Share your work! For an extensive listing of online literary magazines that accept submissions, go here.

Sample Fable About Happiness. Sample Fable About Sharing. Worker bees are female. Would it be acceptable to make them male when writing a fable? You can do whatever you want if you're writing something that's fictional, including a fable. Just let your creative juices flow onto the paper! Not Helpful 17 Helpful I found the moral of my story, but I can't find a resolution for the problems of my characters? It is not always necessary for there to be a resolution. A moral can teach a lesson, even if that involves failure or unresolved problems. For example, in the tortoise and the hare, things do not work out for the hare and that is the lesson that is taught - to not underestimate and become cocky.

Not Helpful 9 Helpful Rajeena Reba. It's not simple to write a classic fable, because classics are those stories that survived generations and generations of storytelling, making them as we know today. Your fable written will take a long while to be considered a classic, but that shouldn't stop you from trying. Not Helpful 24 Helpful A reader should be able to deduce the moral based on the circumstances of the story. You do not need to say, "The moral of this story is Not Helpful 11 Helpful While some fables span an entire book, they're typically short stories, many no longer than a page. Not Helpful 8 Helpful A story is a lot longer than a fable. A fable is typically one to two pages, while a story is pages or more.

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