This trip is like a serial stimulation therapy. One day I wake up to cold weather in the lake shore, drive to a high volcano, walk by boiling mud, take pictures of an endless horizon of hills, and finish in a hostel made of wood where nobody speaks English as their first language.
Cities are just like movies, music or any other set of consistent stimulation: it pleases you if it fits your current state of mind; the one for the long run (personality) and the one you change over time (maturation).
I liked Portland, but that tells you nothing. I will try to tell you what state of mind Portland is suited for.
You are in a period of your life when observation is very important and you have no bank account. You may like to take long walks and stop compulsively for coffee, read or writing down notes of what you just thought. You may like to take the StreetRail and observe the rain pour over the sidewalks and take a glance at the moss and vines that wrap the trunk of urban trees. You may feel like having some fresh unhealthy food today and then head for the Powell Books, a whole block with four floors of books you never imagine someone had the time to write down.
In my personal language, Portland suits a college age person with a lot in store. But if you stole time with a slow aging body and lightweight luggage, you may still grasp that state of mind, moreover without the distractions of testosterone and the convenience of a good credit score.
But there's something I have to say about today’s dreamers.
In the 60s, youth seemed to be eager to put the world upside down. Today’s dreams are boxed in recycling bins. It’s like a new religion of all organic, save energy, buy local and hate corporations. And those corporations are finally making a profit out of this counter-behavior because they can put the finger on it. Is the system of those against the system, and there is a huge market for it. Starbucks, Wholefoods and even oil companies are jumping on the wagon.
I can sense the frustration in the new “outlaws”. They are trapped in a system in wich the rebels do “the right thing”.
When you oppose something you end up been that something with a negative sign.
You had to read for a while before been a rebel in the 60s. In Latin America you were expected to read The Capital from cover to cover to be taken seriously. Nowadays, kids rent “The Inconvenient True” and that’s the intellectual baggage they use to skip showers.
It’s not enough to hate your current world, you must love the next one. You must have a clear, ambitious, irreverent and confident - death confident - idea of what do you want to do with History and why. Marxists didn’t make it to the new century, but they had a hell of a laborious social theory to dig in. It has to go beyond conspiracy theories and quotes without source. You can even skip the hatred part and go directly to love the world of your dreams. But before trying to change the rules of the game, learn about the current ones and win. Then come along and change something. Your sanitized tattoos and your mediocre guitar skills don’t move me. Don’t try to make me cry. Rise above me. Seduce me. Use me. Grow some muscle under that beautiful soft skin.