Searching for Portland's soul

February 2nd, 2014, 9am

This is my first visit to Portland, and the stakes are high. Our family made the decision to try to leave South Africa and move back to the US. Portland is our current city of choice, and I’ve been sent ahead on this reconnaissance mission to see what it would be like to live here.

Right now I’m sitting in Coava Coffee Roasters, nervous as all hell ahead of some job interviews, and watching Portland walk in and out of this amazing space. I like what I see. I feel good here. People are friendly and helpful. They’re happy to live in a place as open and weird as this. They know why they’re here, and the good things about it far outweigh the clichéd jokes about how it never stops raining.

Most of all, I feel comfortable. That’s something I haven’t felt in Cape Town for a long time. It’s a sad moment — this discovery that the place I grew up in doesn’t feel like home any more. That I hunger for something different. I tried to fight it for as long as possible, but being in Portland confirmed it once again: this is my place now. I’m torn between my feelings of shame (am I a traitor?) and the huge sigh of relief as I discover that the soul of Portland is also my soul.

There is still much uncertainty. This is going to be one of the most important weeks of our lives as I talk with a variety of companies about finding a good fit. Maybe it doesn’t work out, but at least I know this now: If we move to Portland our family will be happy here — comfortably burrowed alongside all the other pilgrims and misfits that call this place home.

I am grateful for this.

Grace, Andi, Piers, Philippe and 13 others said thanks.

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Rian van der Merwe

Family, design, coffee, and Oxford commas. On Twitter:

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