Never was a day more aptly named. The moving truck pulled up to our house in Portland, the one we moved into exactly 21 years ago tomorrow, and I felt my face spread into a face-wide smile as Floyd dissolved into tears. We looked like the masks of comedy and tragedy.
"You look just like a guy I used to work with," the mover said to Floyd. "He was a bad-ass dude." Floyd was just about to feel bad-ass when the mover added, "Yeah, then he hung himself."
(Movers Strong Like Bulls)
To say moving is a moving experience doesn't quite capture it. The packing alone requires therapy, each closet full of the Ghosts of Fuck-Ups Past. But the purge has been cleansing and cathartic.
I first wanted to leave Portland ten years ago on 9/11. I know it sounds counterintuitive to want to live in a city under siege, but I felt like something tragic had happened "at home" and I should have been there for it. Moreover, the more I heard Portlanders say how glad they were to be someplace safe, the more depressed I felt--that I had made a safe choice in my life, living in a city too irrelevant to be attacked.
I recognize how effed up that sounds, but that's how I felt.
It was former Oregonian columnist Margie Boule who convinced me to stay. "You haven't really experienced all that Portland has to offer," she said, and introduced us to one of the most original people I've ever met, Goody Cable, owner of the Rimsky-Korsakoffeehouse and the Sylvia Beach Hotel at the coast. Then How I Paid for Collegecame out and the world seemed to open up to us. Floyd became a docent at the Portland Art Museum, we both got involved with Live Wire Radio.
We immersed ourselves in Portland's creative community and opened our little house to it for a number of raucous dinner parties. Blogger Byron Beck told a rude guest to "shut the fuck up." Mayor Sam Adams ate several helpings of dessert. Rocker Storm Large first met Pink Martini's Thomas Lauderdale in our living room, and now she's touring with the band. We played Hillbilly Scrabble and Fake Porn Title Charades and made Man Soup by squeezing as many naked men as the hot tub would allow. Portland has been so nurturing to us - a moist, fertile place where just about anything can grow. But between the Hound of the Baskervilles climate and the Portlandia attitude toward ambition ("It's where young people go to retire!") I'm ready for a new adventure.
So we're off to New York, where I'm going to write for the theatre and Floyd's going to produce it. It's not a safe choice, but we were both emboldened by a recent New Yorker profile of Facebook COO Sheryl Stanburg in which we learned she had a sign put up in the headquarters reading "What would you do if you weren't afraid?"
Now we're literally sneaking out like thieves in the night--on a Jet Blue red-eye--which I suppose makes a Jet Purple eye. I know that decision has disappointed some of our friends, but the intensity of a big goodbye felt like more than we could handle. And we justify the choice with the knowledge that we're moving to a city everyone visits. In the past year I've been bi-coastal, our apartment has already been the Flophouse for Wayward Oregonians.
So here's the piano being loaded up - off to write Broadway musicals...