We thought this blog was over, but there’s been a great outpouring of “Now what?” Maybe two or three people, even! So here we are, back in Portland after our Senior Year Abroad. I love the cooler air, the gentler sun, and even the refreshing drizzle. I love that everybody speaks the same language. When we walk into a grocery store, we can identify everything in it. We have new phone numbers and we make calls like real people. If we haven’t called you yet, here’s why: Most of the time, we apartment hunt. As you recall, we have no home, no furniture and no car. Tom is so eager to re-root himself that he ordered a crock pot, a rice cooker, an alarm clock and a pencil sharpener before we even left Mexico.
Portland, where we’ve decided to resettle, was short of rentals when we left; but not anymore. Mud lots have turned into looming apartment blocks with fire pits, roof gardens, and glamorous bike storage rooms. One of them even has an outdoor movie theater.
These new apartments often have bathrooms the size of Australia and living rooms the size of postage stamps. Why? What are people doing in those bathrooms? And when I ask for a bedroom with a door, there is always a stunned pause. Those units are called “traditional,” and they’re all in some other building.
Portland has always been weird and proud of it, but its new shiny, pricey hipsterism is kind of fun. Walking around, we saw Portland’s first pet gym. The city is famous for its food carts, but I’ve never before seen one with a cycle-powered smoothie maker. Vegan and veggie restaurants sprout like alfalfa, and designer dogs and mutts alike trot along the sidewalks and through the parks. Clearly, this is why a lot of buildings have pet-washing stations, which can be used for bike washing, too.
The hunt has the usual frustrations: prices have gone up and I want more room than I can afford. It seems unlikely that we’ll find a two-bedroom, in order to have an office and a guest room. I guess I can always work in the ginormous bathroom.
Dear readers, if you’ve gotten this far, you’ll be glad to hear that we’re also feverishly working on the book version of The Expat Almanac, which will shortly follow. When it’s all ready to go, we’ll be writing to you about how to get one for free. It’s got some how-to, some adventures, and some revealing details that didn’t get into the blog. We’re also omitting some of the stuff we thought was fascinating but turned out to be truly dull.
But now, it’s back to the hunt. We have a chic 600 square-foot, barely affordable, rarely available apartment to look at. I hope it’s got a door somewhere. I’m sure it’ll have a pet-washing station.