Life’s Little Takeaways

If I were to write a short novel about my first few months in Portland, it would have to be titled “Car Trouble.” Nothing else would do. Since moving to this city I have created a small dent in my door from an encounter with a pole in a parking garage I now deem “the terror dungeon”, I’ve gotten two parking tickets, and when I awoke this morning, I discovered my car was not where I’d parked it the night before.

I would like to take this moment to share that before this city I had a perfectly clean parking record, and still have an unblemished driving record. So if I ever offer you a ride somewhere you do not need to fear for your life. Just maybe don’t let me park your car in Portland for you, because there’s a good chance you might never see it again. I will not be applying for any valet jobs here soon.

Back to my missing car: Thankfully, I was able to discover that it hadn’t been stolen, but I had accidentally parked it in the wrong zone so they towed it. After the brief period of confusion and denial, I can’t deny I was upset when I discovered my car wasn’t where I’d left it, I mean who wouldn’t be? But the funny part is, now that I’ve located the lot it was taken to and figured out how to get it back, I feel this strange sense of satisfaction associated with accomplishment.

Now hear me out, because that statement on its own is fairly ridiculous. “You feel… satisfied that your car was towed?” No, not that my car was towed- that obviously sucks and I don’t want to pay to get it back, but I feel good about the way I handled myself in the situation.

A month ago I would have cried. Probably a lot. I would have panicked and put off calling before I had read several websites to figure out who to call and how to handle these situations, and then I would have rehearsed what I was going to say over the phone when I finally did call. I would have let it ruin my entire day, and maybe even a few days after that.

But this morning I picked up my phone, googled something like “how to locate my towed car in Portland”, was directed to the city’s police and impound site, called the listed number, calmly explained my situation to the man who answered and he was able to track it down and give me the info of the towing company, which I called immediately after and figured out what I needed to do to get my car back. And I don’t feel like my day has been ruined. I called home with the update, took a walk in the sun, and am now borrowing Starbucks’ wifi to share the experience with you, before I work on some other projects while enjoying a cup of coffee.

And then beyond an excitement for stepping up and acting like a reasonable adult, to realize I am in a place where I can take this as something to learn from and move on with a positive mindset feels pretty darn good.

I would not have been able to do this a month ago. At least, not in this levelheaded and adult way. Things have a funny way of becoming known to you, but this situation has shown me how much I’ve grown in the past month. I might not have been able to recognize these changes in myself and feel proud about them without this little misadventure. While it might have been nicer to discover this new confidence in way that didn’t involve a tow truck, I have to admit, I’m grateful for this takeaway.

Street Parking

At some point during the past week of my living in my new apartment, I have become the sort of person who deems it acceptable to roll out of bed and walk down the streets of the city without even bothering to put on a bra.

I understand that this has become something of the style now, but the well endowed can appreciate it’s not one we should embrace… maybe I just haven’t found the right shirt. However I’m fairly certain that shirt will never be a plain cotton t-shirt, and the final look will never be completed with rumpled running shorts, flip-flops (or sneakers without socks depending on the weather), puffy raccoon eyes, and cavewoman hair.

It has taken all of a week for me to give up all cares regarding public image and there is but one thing to blame for this misfortunate turn of events: Street parking.

“Don’t be that person! All it takes is a minute! Just put on a pair of pants!” Cries the voice inside my head as I reach for a loose fitting sweatshirt and some running shorts. That’s as good as 17th Avenue is going to get from me during my morning meter feeding. I’m really setting myself up to make friends here.

Each morning as I lock my door behind me, I’m really counting on a good majority of the neighborhood population to be asleep before 8am.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Come on, what are the odds that the meter guy (or gal) will be up and patrolling at precisely 8AM?” Trust me, the risk does not outweigh the reward. After having already received two tickets in the month that I’ve lived here, I’m too scared to push my luck any further… That is, if you can call two tickets in a month “luck.”

Literally a block away from zoned parking and unable to apply for a residential pass, and surrounded by lots that won’t let you park in them Monday- Friday from 7-5, street parking has very quickly become the bane of my existence in this city. I fully understand that I’m not even suffering at the hands of some ungodly hour. I realize that many people are already at work, also getting out of bed, or have finished their run by 8am. But it’s the principle of the matter.

I will be all too thankful come July, when a space in our buildings parking garage opens up and I will no longer have to trudge down five flights of stairs to spend 8 dollars for 4 extra hours of peace. But for now, I will continue to embrace the lifestyle of the man who walks out the door to get his paper in nothing but a robe and slippers.