Last week I was on vacation in Portland (Oregon) and it made me realize how much I miss it.
Portland is a city that, in short, encourages individuality. So when someone branches out and starts doing their own thing – like riding a unicycle to work or shaving the sides of their head and rocking a full-on horse mane – instead of being ridiculed or mocked for it, they’re celebrated. Because who cares? It’s their life.
That’s the kind of culture you don’t find in many cities. Topeka, the city I used to I live in, for instance, is quite the opposite. I have two examples of this.
One: John and I went to Panera one morning for breakfast and he was wearing a green bandana over his longish hair when this old guy walked up to us at the coffee bar. He looked at me and said, “You gotta watch out for guys like that,” to which I replied, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” And then he looked to John and said, “You know what I’m talking about.”
What? You’ve gotta be kidding me – for a bandana and long hair?
Example #2: John and I rode our bikes to meet a friend for coffee one day and we’d stopped at a stop light to wait for a break in traffic to cross the street. Around this time a guy drove buy honking at us with his window down yelling, “BOOOOO, BOOOOO.” Thumbs down out the window and all.
For riding bikes? Really?
This, in short, is why I miss Portland.
During our one-week trip in Portland alone I saw four girls with the sides of their heads shaved and curly locks down the middle.
One van that was spray painted gold, and another that looked like 80s art-deco on wheels.
Too many full sleeve tattoos to count.
More cyclists than cars.
Farmers markets at nearly every corner.
Like a thousand people with face piercings.
Zero people going to Starbucks because it’s the worst coffee in town. And it’s corporate.
And the most hipster child ever wearing a fly-boy cap and spandex denim shorts overalls. Yes, overalls. And it looked good.
Getting the picture?
So do you know what happens when you’re in a city like that?
You do crazy things like get your nose pierced.
And eat ice cream cones twice in one day.
And jump off a dock into a lake with the rationale that life is short.
Because you know what? Life is short, and when you’re around people living life in such a way that realizes that, it makes you want to do the same. Because living life any other way just isn’t worth it. It’s black and white and I prefer color.
So what does this have to do with a pina colada protein shake? Nothing, but I got to share a story that’s way more important than you’re next breakfast or post-workout snack. I got to tell you that if you aren’t living life free from the fear of what others think of you; if you aren’t living like a Portlander, you’re seriously missing out. And I beg you to reconsider.