The first rule about making friends in the rain belt of the Pacific Northwest is this: the warmer the weather, the friendlier the people. We’re a hibernating folk, and I’m absolutely no exception.
Warm, sunny days will find every Seattleite (and Portlander, apparently) drinking cocktails on a patio. You’ll suddenly discover that a family of five lives in the apartment next to yours. You’ll be invited over for a barbecue.
Rainy winter days are a good time to walk briskly, and put your collar up as a ward against the sleet and the stranger.
This cultural hibernation couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I was so burned out by the time we moved that I have basically spent the last four months staring at text messages with suspicion and inventing excuses not to leave the house. Like the rest of Portland, however, I’m starting to thaw.
So how do I like Portland?
For one, even during the Great Winter Hibernation it’s been way easy to make friends. Say you meet someone at a party in Seattle. You have an awesome conversation, you exchange phone numbers, and agree that you should totally hang out again.
The follow-up email/text exchange may go something like this.
You: “It was so great to meet you last night at the party. I’d love to grab a cup of coffee if you’re free in the next couple weeks!”
Potential Friend: “Definitely! I’d love to hang out!”
You: “Awesome. What’s your schedule like this week? I’m free Monday and Wednesday after 3.”
Potential Friend: *radio silence for 3 months until you awkwardly meet at another party and they gush that you should totally hang out but then don’t answer your next texts.*
In Portland, in my experience, that frustrating radio silence has been replaced almost universally with the prompt finalization of a coffee date. I’m not sure if people in Portland are less busy, more unemployed, or just friendlier, but it’s made it way less frustrating to meet people.
I’ve also been taking advantage of Meetup to connect with other writers and cyclists, and have met some fantastic people through groups like Women on Wheels. The Portland Society has been another great source of awesome like-minded folk to hang out with.
I feel like I’m almost done with my hibernation period. Maybe by the time May rolls around I won’t freak out if I have more than one event on my calendar in a single week. (I’m serious. I’ve been a total shut-in.)
I like Portland, though. I can’t deny that.
I thought you could fly your freak flag in Seattle, but it turns out that Portland is trying to win some sort of championship in freak flag flymanship. It’s kind of amazing. As I write this, the dude sitting across the bar from me is wearing full on purple pajamas with rainbows on them and a chullo hat.
Anyway, if you’re still reading, that’s how I like Portland so far.
It seems like everywhere I turn people are moving new places. Did you? How are you coping? How have you created a new community from scratch?