Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Why Portland?

Portland. Where the dream of the 90s is still alive.

I'm going to put that adage to the test because for me Portland is where the dream of my future is on the line. I've been asked more than once "Why Portland?" and I'm going to try to answer that right now.

I first fell in love with Portland because of a view from I-5, the major North-South Interstate on the Pacific Coast. My friends and I were driving up to play in GP Seattle 2005 and I had decided that the best way to do this was to leave Thursday evening and "red-eye" the 11-hour drive. We hit Portland sometime before dawn. There was a massive freeway interchange in the middle of the city that happened over a river, so bridges and interchanges were crossing all over and around each other and on both sides you could see a beautiful skyline. I remember thinking how pretty it was and that it looked like a nice place to live.

I guess my next encounter, so to speak, with Portland was with Seamus Campbell, the resident Level 3 Judge from the city. We met at GP San Jose 2007, my first as a judge. Our friendship grew over the next year; we were roommates for PT Hollywood the following spring, my first PT and where he was promoted to L4, so memorable for both of us! He was inspirational and influential in my journey, including providing some of the best advice and feedback I got on my final push to become an L3.

Seamus and I would talk occasionally online and one thing that came up was bicycles. My hometown of Davis, California at the time was known as a very bike-friendly city, and by some metrics was the #1 in that category in the country. (It doesn't make some lists due to its relatively small size ~60,000 people.) Anyway, Seamus would rib me about Portland overtaking Davis on this list or that from time to time, and I suppose that when I started to like the idea of Portland as a destination. Ever since living in LA, I've had an aversion to big city life, especially the infinite traffic, and it appealed to me that here is this bigger city that can still offer the charm of good biking.

As I got more and more involved in Magic: the Gathering as a judge, I entertained the notion of someday working for the parent company in Renton, Washington (suburb of Seattle), and the idea of living in the Pacific NW started to take supremacy in my mind. The weather was nice--sure it rained a lot--the food and culture were diverse like California, and I avidly followed the exploits of the Japanese baseball players on the Seattle Mariners led by Ichiro Suzuki.

As the months went by, so did my aspirations for working for Wizards of the Coast, and things shifted back towards old PDX (btw, as a frequent flier, it is clearly another feather in the city's cap that it identifies so strongly with its quirkly airport code). It also helped that the older I got, the more hipster I became, sweater vests and all. Portland was where I needed to end up.

Everything changed for me when I met my fiance, Tasha Jamison. Suddenly I had a real future to think about, and it became important to balance both of our dreams and desires. Luckily, like so many other things in our lives together, those matched up perfectly. After GP Seattle 2012, I convinced Tasha to spend a week in Portland at Seamus's to explore the city and see if it was the place we wanted to live after she finished her Masters degree at Virginia Tech. It was. The bike-friendliness, the diversity of world cultures and food (especially the huge Japanese grocery store Uwajimaya), the focus on green, and especially important the number of companies there that specialized in her desired field of humanitarian logistics. At the end of the week there, Tasha agreed that we should move to Portland. We have just over a week until we arrive for good. Almost there.

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