Ask me about that time when we spent hours in a vintage shop trying to find our way through the funky rooms and racks. Or the time when we visited the same bookshop three times because we just couldn’t help ourselves. And the time I fell for a book full of photographs of San Francisco in the ’60s. The time we evaded an aggressive man by speeding away in our vehicle. Or you could ask about the time the thermostat broke and we drank our wine sitting on the floor of the only room with working heat. My favorite is the time we went to Portland on a whim…inspired by a holiday weekend, planned in a minimal amount of days, and executed in a mere handful of hours.

This quirky, vibrant city reminded me—in more ways than one—that no one gives a fuck and I shouldn’t either (about the stupid stuff, I mean—like other people’s opinions). If you want to buy the ’90s metallic ski jacket with the puffy sleeves and patches with embroidered details—you buy the damn jacket and you wear it puffy and proud. If you want to partake in the children’s interactive floor of the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, surrounded by hundreds of too-smart-for-their-own-good tiny humans—you freaking partake (for hours…because you thought that was the main attraction of the museum, and even in your now-educated opinion, still do). The point is—yes. Yes, to who you are. That’s what Portland whispered to me as I tiptoed over her icy sidewalks and traversed down her snowy lanes.

Friendliness greeted us at every counter and threshold. We found it in the beautiful man who asked me if I would miss the snow, the happy smile of the vintage shop owner, the hint of humor in the eyes of those listening in on our convoluted conversations about things therapists think are important or unimportant, and especially in the warm hug of a friend.

We ate like queens—which I believe deserves its very own paragraph because my tongue and my belly determine if a trip has been successful or not, let’s be real. Fried chicken and a fried egg on a biscuit with apple butter. Yes, this exists in the world. Tahitian vanilla-sugar apple pie goodness dissipating upon my tongue. Yemenite stew encompassing all senses and seducing me with its sweet and spicy flavors. A Turkish Delight cocktail (Sobieski vodka, ceylon grey tea, orange blossom, orange bitters, and that’s all I can recall from my slightly altered memory…) has taken its rightful place as The Best Cocktail I’ve Ever Had In My Life. (Sorry Vancouver….RIP your 2016 Valentine’s Day concoction at Chill Winston.)

With minimal planning but plenty of ambition, we took on the city in three days. In our minds (and hearts), we saw all Portland had to offer and added some stamps in our Happy Places Passport. In reality (and when I put it down in words), we saw three parts of the city (Hollywood District, NE Alberta St., and the Pearl District—maybe), every inch of two vintage clothing shops (House of Vintage, Magpie), and one new and used bookstore (Powell’s).

We definitely experienced the weirder side of Portland too, thanks to the man who aggressively gestured and tapped a knuckle on the window of my car as, moments prior, we had attempted to nonchalantly buckle down the hatches by rolling up our windows, locking the doors, and throwing the lever in drive while not gazing in your general, hulky direction. Whatever you wanted to say, sir, I’m sure that was not the way to go about it—I do admit, the windows should not have been down in the first place…but that made it so much easier for us to eavesdrop on your altercation with the homeless couple we had just donated our earmuffs, gloves, and dollar coins to.

On that note, cheers to the process of new spaces becoming happy places.

A twenty-something, soon-to-be couple and family therapist, Abby decided to evade the tragedy of a life unexamined by writing—a lot. By studying English and psychology at Westmont College and pursuing a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy at Seattle Pacific University, she forged her passion for telling and listening to stories about how humans experience the world. Abby lives and breathes in Seattle, the city of her dreams.