A Love Letter to Portland
Photo courtesy of Beth H.

A Love Letter to Portland

Written by Emilie

Topics: Portland

The bus pulled over to the curb. Outside, a woman with bright pink hair was securing a large black pug in its carrier purse.

I smiled. The spot beside me was free. They’re going to sit next to me and when they do, I’m going to strike up a conversation, I willed to the universe.

The woman and her dog climbed onto the bus. Everyone watched as they made their way down the aisle and – sure enough – parked themselves right next to me. The dog stuck its giant nozzle out of the purse. I laughed and asked his name. “Piggy,” she replied.

Piggy was on his way to work. The woman with the pink hair (I forgot to ask her name) ran a doggy daycare on the west side. We talked for a while. I told her about my plan to get my own schnauzer once I’m more settled- a salt and pepper, like Duffy had been.

Fifteen minutes later I said goodbye to piggy the pug, his pink-haired friend and the other characters who had joined the conversation. (Piggy smelled and snorted, but he was still one of the least odd characters on the bus that day)…

The next scene I walked into was a bank. I was there to open a checking account- my first American checking account. It felt like an act of great significance, my first American bank account.

I’m here now.

A few nights later, I found myself lifting an original 1963 Clue board from its pealing box. Around me sat four new friends, two of whom I was meeting for the first time that night. One was a Puttylike lurker who had written to me for the first time a week earlier. (Hi Mike!)

As we hopped from the ballroom to the conservatory, launched lead pipes across the building and suspected each other of horrid crimes, I took a look around.

I did this.

I was in a new city and I was surrounded by friends.

There are friends waving at me from the Treehouse Nursery down the block, friends telling me about the sentimental reason for which they decided not to include their suitcase turntable in their yard sale (shame) and friends serving me steel-cut oatmeal and perfectly sized pots of tea at the coffee shop on the corner.

I connect with more strangers each day than I did in 27 years of living in Montreal. (Mtl has a lot of good traits, but friendliness is not one of them.)

In the morning, there are golden outlines of mountains poking out from the clouds. Roses line every street and the air smells like the country.

All the hard work and dream pursuit, it’s great. But it’s even better when you’re doing it among friends.

Welcome to Portland.


Your Turn

Have you ever arrived some place new and felt like you were home?


  1. That’s so awesome you feel at home in Portland. That is exactly how I feel in New York City. I love living here and have no desire to leave anytime soon. It feels good to know where you want to be :)

    • I’m in New York City too! It’s wonderful, as you said, but I wish I could live lots of places all at once. I miss Los Angeles, and long for Denmark, but am not ready to leave NYC yet either. Oh the dilemmas!

    • Emilie says:

      Ah I love New York too! My whole family is from New York so I spent a lot of time there growing up and I lived there for a summer a few years ago. It sort of feels like my second home.

      I’m in the mood for something a bit more laid back at the moment though, so the west coast is suiting me nicely. But I have a feeling that I may head back toward Brooklyn in a few years. We’ll see. :)

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Kylie says:

    Oh, sweetie! I love Portland, too. I think I’d probably love to live there. For now, I’m happy to make trips there every once in a while, and enjoy the fresh air and fragrant coffee and great people. Really happy to hear your new home is treating you so very well.

  3. Welcome to the US of A, friend! Excited to hear how your adventures progress and what new lessons you’ll have to teach us.

    • Emilie says:

      Yey! Thanks Brian. Tomorrow’s Canada Day, which I will be celebrating in my heart… 4th of July will get celebrated as well though. :)

  4. Gina says:

    That’s great that you’re starting to feel like Portland is home! Congratulations on getting settled after the big move. When I moved to Korea it definitely didn’t feel like home, but developing a great group of friends really made all the difference. Even during the holidays, being surrounded by friends and love made me feel so at home in a foreign place. And now I am actually AT HOME, and it doesn’t feel the same. But like everyone said at WDS, I’m trying to accept my current situation as one that is helping me work towards where I want to be, even if I’m not quite there yet.

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Gina,

      Yeah I know what you mean. When I went to Copenhagen last fall, it was completely foreign to me. That was actually pretty rough and a bit of a rude awakening. I did eventually find some friends and a routine, but it definitely isn’t someplace I would stay for much longer than 5 months. Portland, on the other hand, I could see myself living in for a while.

      I did the living at home thing for 5 months between DK and PDX too. That’s good for different reasons. Nice to reconnect with friends and family and have a bit of a cushion while preparing for the next big thing.

      What’s next for you? Any adventures on the horizon?

  5. Oh gosh, Em! You stepped it up, alright :P

    What beautiful, beautiful words and thoughts. This is a side of you I don’t think we’ve ever really seen here on Puttylike and it’s just wonderful. You have such great descriptive narrative and I felt like I was sitting right there with you and Piggy on the bus, playing Clue and looking at the mountains in the sky.

    It actually reminds me of how I felt when I first moved to Reykjavik and how every day I’d wake up, look at the mountain across the bay and feel my heart swell with joy. I want that feeling back again this time.

    • Emilie says:

      Thank you, Rebecca! Yeah it’s a side that comes out more in my screenwriting. But I’d like to start telling more stories here on Puttylike too.

      And yeah… Great feeling, huh? I imagine Reykjavik is quite stunning. :)

  6. So glad you’re enjoying Portland Emilie :) Pretty cool how we can build our universe like that :) You are THERE after just a few months ago I remember chatting with you about your plans to be there… and now you’re relaxing at it’s best coffee shops with it’s best people :) Very cool :)
    … enjoy reality :)

    • Emilie says:

      I know I know! That’s one of the wildest parts. The fact that I spent about 7 months visualizing my Portland life in my head every day, and now I literally look up from the coffee shop where I’m working and think, I dreamed this. SO awesome!

      How are you doing? Is the road trip over now? What’s next?

      Miss you! xo.

  7. Michelle says:

    That feeling is EXACTLY the same one I got when I visited Austin for the very first time (approximately, oh, two months before moving here). We’ve been here for two years, and every now and again I still get a swell of happiness and recognition of how lucky I feel to live here. It’s awesome. :) Welcome home, Emilie!

    • Emilie says:

      Yaaay! That’s amazing Michelle. Austin does sound extremely rad. Don’t think I could handle the summer there, but I’d love to swing by for SXSW sometime…

  8. Cotton Candy says:

    Portland sounds so beautiful! Roses everywhere, in a city? I don’t really like living in the city, but Portland sounds like it’s really awesome.

    Lovely letter Emilie!

    • Emilie says:

      Oh yeah, I mean I knew they had a Rose Festival, but now I understand. The flowers and trees are so beautiful. They’re everywhere. It doesn’t feel like any other city I’ve ever known. It’s so green (in every sense of the word). Big houses, big decks, big backyards, tree houses, swings, chickens… Like outside people’s houses! It’s wild. And still there are busier streets with cute coffee shops and restaurants. Nice mix.

      Thanks CC. :)

      • Cotton Candy says:

        Well I can live without the noise of chickens ha ha, but everything else sounds WONDERFUL! Flowers & trees everywhere instead of boring buildings sounds gorgeous! And everything else sounds awesome too. Now I just need to find out if I can deal with the cold, but I survived it going down into the single digits (Fahrenheit) this winter so hopefully I can. I guess it’s just hard to get used to living in climates different from the ones we grew up in. But any place that looks like a garden wonderland sounds great to me! ^_^

  9. I’m a Corvallis resident, Oregonian quasi-native. Portland is beautiful and quite unique. Beware the rain. Also, many Oregonians don’t know how to drive in snow, especially those who live in the Willamette Valley. I am included, but then I normally bus/walk it during snow season anyways.

    Outside of basic notes, you’ve inspired me to write about my new home. You really do have some of the most inspirational suggestions.

    • Emilie says:

      Thanks for the tips, Rachael. I will beware the rain and the drivers. Though I’m pretty sure Montreal has the worst drivers on the face of the planet, so I should be well prepared. :P

  10. Paloma says:

    Oh, I know the feeling! When I moved to Vancouver from Montreal two years ago I definitely had the same honeymoon period you’re having. It seemed like every stranger could become a friend. Even the weather gods were shining down on me. It was glorious. Hold onto the feeling while it lasts!

    • Emilie says:

      Haha, you crack me up Paloma. I just moved here FROM Montreal, which is where I spent most of my life. I love the city, but I do find it extremely unfriendly. Glad you had a different experience though. Montreal is pretty great in other ways. :)

  11. Cara Stein says:

    That is awesome! Congratulations, and welcome home! :)

  12. Janet says:

    I LOVE Portland.

    Yesterday I had this moment of clarity where I knew I did not want to be in Manila long term. It is so crowded and chaotic. Horns blare every few seconds in highpitched decibels that hurt my ears in their high pitch. It took almost an hour to get into their equivalent of the Max because everyone is crowded like sardines! It was horrible. I guess I’m answering the antithesis of your question. But put me in Portland or San Francisco. LOVE.

    • Emilie says:

      Interesting. I had the same realization in Denmark. Like, there are good things about this place, but there are also problems. It’s definitely not where I want to be long term.

      SF is beautiful too, but more expensive. I’ll probably head down the coast at some point and visit. I’m really loving it here though.

      Any idea when you might head back over here? Are you from Portland originally?

      • Janet says:

        I grew up around Portland and went to college there. I was born originally in the Philippines but came to Oregon when I was 3. So, most my life has been there :)

  13. Holli says:

    Super happy for you. As a proud Seattle Native, I can attest to the friendlier attitude in Portland. People are more likely to strike up a conversation and smile. Must be the extra sunshine and roses:)

  14. Matt R says:

    I really feel lucky to live on the west coast. I’ve been all over the west coast (SF, Seattle, etc.) All of the cities on the west coast remind me of being cousins of one another, so it’s awesome to see how much you like Portland.

    • Emilie says:

      Hey Matt,

      That’s the sense I’m getting. I really love it out here. The east coast has its charm, but the west coast is far more laid back and friendly. Also, it’s just so green and lush! SF is fantastic too. I’ll hit you up when I make it down there.

  15. Lainey says:

    My husband just accepted a job in Portland, and we’ll be there in a month! I’ve only visited once, 8 years ago, but this is pretty much how I’m hoping my move turns out. Thanks for the jolt of hope that this is possible!

  16. Emilie,
    Glad the People’s Republic of Portland is making you feel welcomed. When I visited there back in 08, I had a similar feeling; the people I met were so open and friendly, and I knew if I stayed long enough it would feel like home.

    Maybe it’s a western/Pioneer/adventurer thing.

    Hope you get to enjoy some fireworks tonight. We Yanks love to celebrate by making thinks explode!

  17. Matthew says:

    I’m still searching for that place. Portland is actually one location I would like to check out; I was there once during an 8000 mile road trip.

  18. Angela says:

    I’m so glad things are working out for you in Portland. You totally deserve a great environment to live in. I knew Portland would be perfect for you.

  19. Jeff Goins says:

    Indeed I have. When I moved to Nashville, I felt that sense of peace instantly. It’s a great feeling.

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