A little over a month ago, I woke to the persistent ringing of my doorbell (which is less of a doorbell and more of a telephone telling me someone is downstairs, but no matter). It was my mother. It was her last day in town before moving to California, and she had come to say goodbye and to give me something she thought I might like, thought I might need, might want.
She gave me her car, saying, “Do with it what you will” (or maybe it was more like “I don’t care what you do with it”). At any rate, she left a beautiful blue Thunderbird on my doorstep. It was made by the Ford Motor Company in the year 1992. And it is for sale.
But this isn’t about Baby Blue. It’s about what happened between receiving her a month ago and deciding to give her up for adoption last night.
Last night: I was driving into town on I-5 north, annoyed because I had just come from a friend’s house, and while I was there she said I should borrow this new magazine she picked up. I said OK and then proceeded to leave it on her coffee table. I did want to read it, but I didn’t want to buy it, because I wasn’t and I’m still not so sure it’s worth the money. I was coming through the Terwilliger curves and I was thinking about my stomach, which was growling (how could it be growling after so much food?), and something I had read while flipping through the pages of this new glossy, which, in case you’re wondering, is called Portland Monthly (not to be confused with Portland Magazine, the other new glossy that launched this month).
It was eating at me, this bold declaration that Pioneer Courthouse Square gives Portland a European feel, that it turns a brown-bag lunch into a holiday. I like eating/people watching/reading/whatever in Pioneer Courthouse Square as much a the next person, but –
Approximately 30 days ago: My roommate and I drove 20 blocks to eat at Jack in the Box. We wanted to welcome the new dining establishment to the neighborhood, and it was hot and we didn’t want to walk, so we drove, windows up, air conditioning on. Once there, we opted to dine in, which defeated the purpose of driving, not to mention the drive-thru window), but it did allow us to go back for a second order of jalapeno poppers and make a last-minute purchase of one Jack head for Baby’s antenna (included with purchase).
Two weeks ago: Woke late on the first day of school and called a cab.
Earlier last night: Circled the block surrounding Thai Orchid for 20 minutes looking for a parking space before deciding to be that driver who parks illegally in the Goodwill parking lot for just a few minutes while I run inside to buy $20 of Thai food and people shop for second-hand Halloween costumes. Didn’t, almost to my disappointment, get caught.
– what about all those cars clogging Broadway, cutting off MAX, turning into the bus mall?
European feel? Anyone who makes that assertion has obviously never been to Europe, because if they had they would know part of the charm of the European squares lies in the fact that they are pedestrian friendly. My Europe was an endless parade of pedestrian-only streets where people could eat/people watch/read/whatever without the honking of horns, inhaling of pollutants, cost of two parking tickets.
So, people walk here and use public transportation? If Portland wanted to be truly European, it would build a pedestrian-only street downtown. Imagine Broadway lined with trees and lights and street performers. Imagine a revitalized downtown economy, and a cleaner downtown. Imagine reading your favorite book in the Square and the loudest thing you here is the “ding ding” of the MAX as it takes me home, car-free and carefree.