Ritual Confessions

February 16, 2008

Portland vs. The Couv

Filed under: Uncategorized — elissakaren @ 6:18 am

I know I posted earlier about some of my misgivings regarding our new hometown. But now that we’ve been living in Vancouver for about a month, I’ve been pleasantly surprised on a couple of fronts.

The first has to do with food. Portland is rightly renowned for its culinary prowess. For a small town, it has extraordinary epicurean offerings at nearly every turn. And yet, throughout my time in the Pacific northwest (nearly two years), I never had a decent bagel until we moved to Vancouver. Sunrise Bagels occupies an unassuming space in a strip of stores surrounding a huge parking lot. Their bagels are fresh, voluptuous, warm from the oven and, if not quite NYC quality, by far the next best thing I’ve encountered. Then, as if this weren’t enough, just a few doors down from Sunrise, there’s a hole in the wall with the best Chinese cuisine we’ve had since moving west as well (and being NYC Jews, we’ve searched long and hard). The wonton soup alone would secure my devotion, but everything we’ve tried there has been startlingly good.  

The second surprise has to do with my comfort level with the culture out here. Portland is undeniably a more progressive town, and I thought that would be the aspect of the place that I’d miss the most. But in fact, all those progressive tendencies came hand-in-hand with a certain earnest piety that I found irritating beyond belief. Not long before moving here, I actually posted — in the “Groups” section of Craigslist — a rant to this effect:

Don’t get me wrong. I love this town. I love how progressive, green, kind, gentle, beautiful and natural it is. But there are days… like today… when I just want to meet ONE PERSON who is not a student of naturopathy or midwifery, not advocating home-schooling or home birthing, not into astrology or reiki or yoga, not allergic to wheat or dairy, not a die-hard vegan or raw foodist or fruitarian, not suffering from fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, not committed to unpasteurized milk and eggs, not chattering about indigo children, or some combination or subset of the above. I hate Bush too, but I don’t want to bitch about him in every conversation. Is there anyone in Portland who is free of these characteristics and wants to hang out? I am fully expecting not to hear back from anyone, but hoping to be surprised.

Vancouver is refreshingly free of these types. Of course, it’s long on camouflage-patterned rednecks in pick-up trucks toting rifles and guzzling beer, but — at least at this point — they seem like the lesser of the two evils, and easier for me to co-exist with. Yee-haw.



  1. I think the thing about Portlanders that’s problematic is actually not that they are all or any of those things, but that they don’t know when to shut up about it. I mean, seriously — based on that description, I shouldn’t be your friend either. 🙂 But I’m not evangelistic about natural health, or politics. If someone asks, I will answer briefly, and if questions follow, I might discuss more in-depth. But Portlanders bring these things up every five freaking seconds. So I think the problem isn’t the culture; it’s that we’re socially backward.

    And then I wonder whether the native Portlanders are the problem, or whether really it’s the Californians who are so weird. But that’s another topic.

    And yeah, those bagels are delicious.

    Comment by davidrochester — February 16, 2008 @ 4:38 pm

  2. David might be right about the Californians. My SIL is from California, and having a conversation with her is impossible.

    BTW What’s wrong with “camouflage-patterned rednecks in pick-up trucks toting rifles”?
    (I don’t guzzle beer anymore.) 😉

    Comment by Shawn W — February 18, 2008 @ 5:06 am

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