A Love Letter – Gurl, We Need to Talk

Evening cityscape of Portland from the Eastbank Esplanade with a person sitting on a bench.

Dear Rose,

Back in 2000 when we first met you were a stunning beauty in my eyes and I was a confused and newly repatriated admirer moving here for love. I was scared to death of all the newness happening in my life and also because there weren’t a lot of people around you that looked like me. Eric asked me not to be too critical and that things would be alright. He was right, though it hasn’t been without its share of thorns along the way. You met Eric back in 1989 when he moved here from San Diego.

Over these past 18 years, you have become very popular. So many people now want to dine with you in your many favorite restaurants like Mother’s Bistro, and shop in the trendy shops on Northwest 23rd Avenue like William Sonoma to gain your favor. I’m not the jealous type but let’s face it, you have really grown. You’re catching up to your sister in the Evergreen State and your cousin in the Golden State by the bay. You have really blossomed. One downside to your popularity is the cost to your longtime friends. Many of those friends think you’re just too high priced to hang around. You know the friends I’m talking about, people of color, people with disabilities, lower income households, and immigrants. I’ve even heard someone call you racist!

I can’t blame you entirely for everything, but would point at the people that have been providing you advice. For example, allowing people to campout on sidewalks and storefronts? You have a big heart and it’s becoming bad for businesses. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but have you seen your roadways lately? Between the potholes (like the one that dented my rim and busted my hubcap on NE 82nd heading the airport), traffic, and garbage flowing from the hillside encampments, it’s not a pretty site! I’m no expert, but adding a bond measure for property owners to finance everything isn’t the answer. It’s taxing!

You might be stretching yourself to thin too. Have you looked in a mirror? I don’t see crow’s feet when I look at you, I see cranes! Within the past week, several well-known eateries such as the Original Taco House on Southeast Powell, Chinatown’s House of Louie, and a close-to-home favorite, the Overlook Restaurant have closed or will soon close. I fear what will become of these spaces. We don’t need another monolithic Yard building looming overhead casting its constant architectural shadow. I understand time marches on, but these changes are happening too fast. Good thing Minor White captured your image from the earlier days for us to remember.

I love you Rose and as your friend, I can’t see myself being anywhere else. I’m writing out of concern for your wellbeing. I just don’t want you to lose sight of what makes you special. Once that’s gone, nothing that can be done to reverse the damage to our relationship.

Affectionately yours,

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