I’ve been thinking a lot lately about moving out of Portland. Not out of the metro area (well sometimes I do), but out of the city. It’s become hectic, overcrowded and really expensive.
My rent has gone up 36% since I first arrived. Not to mention the astronomical cost of eating out or even grabbing a beer with coworkers after work. Although, this does come with some perks, being able to walk to work. This avoids traffic and an absurd cost to park.
However, the big thing I miss about when I first moved here, is the attention people paid to local and regional happenings. Between work and my neighborhood haunts (bars, coffee shops, etc.) I rarely had to watch the local news to know what was happening.
People cared and followed everything, from neighborhood issues, up to state and even inter-state news. I’ve found that’s not the case so much anymore. In my small team at work I’m the one who’s been in Portland the longest. All my old haunts are gone, or irrevocably changed.
This isn’t a rant about how things have changed though. Change in inevitable and while I miss the Portland I came to, I’m not the person who sits on Reddit complaining about “Old Portland” vs “New Portland.” Even my hometown in Michigan has gone through huge changes, its how the world works.
Rather, the one place I still feel everyone knows what is going on is at Providence Park. Whether it’s the Timbers, Thorns, or T2, most everyone is on the same page, and knows the current news and stories.
From the pregame beers at the surrounding bars, to the few minutes before the official kickoff, people are debating, informing, and even arguing. Those with scarves wave them during the anthem, and cheer loudly at the end for the home team. Tough not to with two of the best anthem singers in the nation.
You can feel the energy of it too. People high-fiving strangers when the Timbers or Thorns score, helping someone carry their concession stand haul to their seats, or even just introducing themselves as they take their seats.
I’m not saying this is everyone in the stadium, nor that this is the only place in Portland where this goes on, but it’s the only one on this scale I’ve found. The games have much more of a high school football game feel. Even though there’s 21,000+ people in the stadium I am always expecting to run into someone I know who I didn’t know would be there, and most often do.