After the Smoke Cleared

My first month in Portland was interesting to say the least.

With the Coronavirus still present and wildfires surging in the first week here, the beginning weeks felt overwhelming. Yet my days continued to be filled with more happiness and laughter than I have experienced in what feels like years. I knew in my gut this is where I wanted and needed to be and I did not lead myself astray.

I love the rainy days, sunny days, cool days, and warm days.

The authenticity in the people I have met here is unmatched in the other places I have lived. This is the breath of fresh air I have been craving.

I began leaning more into my younger self, someone who I left behind over a decade ago. She is independent, creative, nurturing, ambitious, and holds all of these attributes at the same time – not lessening any of them.

It is important to connect with my younger self because she is so much of who I am before the world got a hold of me. Before I decided to abandon myself for a shrunken version of who others told me to be.

Before moving to Portland, I felt the need to fight to prove that my authentic self is more than enough. Now being here, the fight has ceased and the people I am around offer me the freedom to be honest and wholly myself.

One of my favorite memories in the past month is on the first day after the smoke from the wildfires cleared.

I had only lived here for a few days before the smoke rolled in and the entire city was hidden behind the thickness of it. My roommates and I became extremely restless after being unable to go outside for about two weeks without our lungs burning. When the air quality changed from hazardous to healthy, we decided to go to Cathedral Park down by the river and get some fresh air. Cathedral Park sits under the St. John’s bridge (the prettiest bridge in Portland) and has pathways that wrap around the river’s edge. There are willow trees, purple flowers, and benches to sit on with friends. It was a rainy and cloudy afternoon and the colors of the city popped.

As we walked through the park and across the bridge, I felt like I was seeing the city for the first time and I fell in love immediately. Seeing the city I live in without smoke gave me a rush of excitement and energy. Even under the overcast sky, the city, the river, and the colors were beautiful. On the day the smoke cleared, I released the feelings of restlessness, being overwhelmed, and the weight of fighting to prove myself. I breathed in the freedom to be where I am and fully who I am.

...And living here is simply so much fun!