Saturday, April 2, 2011
I am writing this from a Portland that is a chilly 40 degrees. The high tomorrow won't get above 53. The projected high tomorrow for Marietta, the town in which I grew up, is an astonishing 77 degrees. Incredible! It's clear that the Portland weather is not my favorite weather system in the world. We do have amazing, sun-filled, bursting, magical summers, but the rest of the year is quite a drag. Traveling back to the south these past few months, I've been thinking a lot about why I miss it so much. I must say that while Portland definitely wins in a fight against the south (open-minded people, eco-friendly atmosphere, bike culture, public transport, etc etc etc), there are still many aspects of southern living that I ache for. Here are a few:
Of course I love food, and of course I love hot, tasty, fat-filled southern food. Ask for sweet tea in a restaurant here, and you will be given a genuine look of confusion. I have yet to find my "go-to" restaurant here in Portland. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of decent eateries, and Portland leads the nation in food carts, with their colorful exteriors, creative menus, and unique offerings (like eating fancy grilled cheese in a double decker bus!) Alas, I still haven't found "the one". Even the fast food and restaurant chains in the south are better - mmm mmm how I crave Chick-Fil-a and Pita Delite. The ultimate meal in the south is breakfast. Where else can you get juicy and buttery shrimp and grits, heart attack sausage gravy, and a biscuit as big as an infant's head? (I'm not kidding, this place has them).
One of the most exciting parts of a trip back to the south is all of the mouth-watering goodness that I ingest while there.
Yes Portland is very close to the coast (a little over an hour away) but unless all you want to do is fly a kite, wear hooded sweatshirts, and shiver while watching massive waves crash dangerously on the rocky shore, then it isn't the place for you. While the beach was a 3 hour drive from where I was living in NC, it made up for the distance by providing the ultimate in swimming and sunning adventures. I have swam comfortably as early as April and as late as October. The picture above is from a beach trip in April! Joe received a massive, life-altering sunburn on this trip and was pretty much incapacitated. I was still able to frolic in the surf. The water temperature off the coast of North Carolina in the month of June is 80 degrees. At the same time here in Oregon, it's a limb-numbing 55 degrees. I won't even consider getting in that water, and often times won't even put my toes in. The chilly, imposing, giant ocean out here often looks like it is just put there to tease me and make me frustrated. "Why can't you be warm! Why can't you let me conquer you!"
This is a tricky one, because part of the reason I like Portland so much is because the close-minded, fanatical rednecks are few and far between. But I kinda miss them. I guess I don't truly miss them, but I miss the idea of them. Portland is devoid of any type of accent, so I yearn for hearing the different styles of the southern accent. I especially miss the eastern North Carolina accent. How beautiful! It toes the line of exotic. You can listen to it here, and watch a man talk about none other than the pride of eastern North Carolina - barbecue. I also miss the southern hospitality of the people. While not always sincere, it was certainly entertaining. I still get chills every time a woman stranger calls me "darlin'".
Nearly the entirety of my family lives in the south, and I miss being close to them. Families can be so helpful! At least we have phones, internet, and skype, but sometimes, nothing can substitute for a big hug.
Overall, Joe and I are extremely happy here in Portland. The few downsides are certainly outweighed by the astronomical upsides. For now, the south must remain a place for vacations only. That might be a good thing, because a softball-sized biscuit tastes so much better when it's been lingering in my dreams and making my mouth water for months.