Portland & Their Thank-you’s

“I’m never sick of thank you’s” is what I came up with if I had to describe the people in Portland–or to be precise, the culture of riding inside a bus.

And yes, I know this blog is supposed to be about healthy food, but as a certified health coach, I know there are other important (and surprising) factors beside food that can contribute to great health.

For me, it’s traveling.  Especially Portland, Oregon.  Before, I did all the things in the books–yoga, gym, eat healthy, hang out with friends, and pursue an educational goal.  None of those made me feel as alive as being in the motions of traveling.  As an introvert, I have tons of fun connecting to coworkers and guests at work, but the moment I get home–BOOM–I’m pooped.  It happens quite often so when I do have days off, it’s either difficult to truly relax or I want a change of scenery.

When I travelled to Portland with my family and boyfriend, we lived in a house via Airbnb (loved it!) and took the bus and train nearly everywhere.  From how I perceive it, you can tell a lot about a place’s culture by using their mass transportation.  I saw all kinds of people from different parts of Portland.  There weren’t only hipsters; I saw families, elderly men, students, and business people as well.  I remember noticing this black American asking every elderly person if they wanted his seat and so many people ignored him.  And whenever another elderly or homeless person entered the bus, some people gave up their front seats to sit in the back.

One thing that stuck with me forever was every time a bus rider left the bus, whether they were far away or close to the bus driver, they would yell out, “Thank you!”.  When you hear one of those, you assume that person is nice.  But when you hear almost everyone saying it, you notice it’s the culture.  Now, I know not everyone is the same, but for the most part, when a Portlander notices I’m lost or in need of something, they never hesitate to jump in to help or talk to me.  There’s also a sense of tribe-like feel to Portland despite how individualized everyone is with their different hair color and tattoos.  I remember throwing away a plastic Starbucks cup into the recycle bin and the man next to me warned me that I should throw it in another slot.  Another incident was when I went to the Saturday Farmer’s Market (they had hundreds of vendors), there was a section for Dish/Plate Return after you had finished your ramen made from pasture-raised pork stock, curry with organic chicken, or just cheesy Chicago deep-dish pizza.  Yes, I know what you’re thinking.  I can already picture what my friends would say about all this.  “Portland is too hipster for me!”  It is, but it’s coming from a place of wanting to take care of their body and the Earth at the same time.  I may be wrong, but it almost feels like being hipster or eco-friendly where I live (southern California) is almost treated like a trend.  Even I admit it myself.  In Portland, eating and living local, sustainable, and healthy is the right thing to do and the communities hold each other accountable.

In all, my desire to live in Portland is more solidified than ever now than it was before.  This is my third trip and I’ve never been able to find anything I don’t like.  I can picture myself feeling freer in Portland because I can walk and go anywhere on affordable transportation.  It’s a beautiful city with lots of urban feel and reticent wilderness, depending on your mood.  But beyond that, travel is just my love.  Whenever I’m inside or leaving a different place, my heart feels at peace—and who doesn’t want to feel that way at home?

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