Sometimes it takes a good friend to bring us back to ourselves.

I’ve been really quiet on my blog the past year or so and though life has got me quite busy, the silence is not because of my busyness. I haven’t been writing because I just have not been able to bring myself to do it.

For someone whose blog’s name is She’sWrite, who has loved writing all her life and considers writing as fundamental as breathing, that’s saying something. Not sure why I’m talking in the third person about myself. Sheesh, that’s annoying.

White Stag sign in Portland. Photo by Steve Morgan.

White Stag sign in Portland. Photo by Steve Morgan.

Anyway, I wasn’t writing because I was sinking. Many of you know from talking with me or comments I’ve made on Twitter and Instagram that Portland has not been a good experience. I was so excited to move here, but have been met with surprising racism, petty mommywars and other unsavory and mind-blowingly dumb drama. After awhile, it just takes a toll.

Not all of Portland’s been bad, the nature in the Pacific Northwest is unsurpassed. Also, when we got here, I was on a mission to meet as many people as I could, figuring that amid some of them, I would be able to find some soulmates. Ladies who loved to laugh, didn’t care what others thought, were bitingly and respectfully honest, fearlessly admitted flaws and just strived to do and be better.

Granted I did find some. There was a handful of new mommyfriends, who felt like they would fit seamlessly in with my beloved MILFs in Chicago. There also were the peeps in my storytelling crew and those artistic souls are beautiful and rare in any city, so they helped me out a ton.

Still with everyone’s busy schedules, it made it tough to connect, so I kept sinking. Finally I asked for help. I sent a long email to some of my nearest and dearest friends, telling them that I was miserable and needed them to come see me.

Wendi and I after our hike up to Pittock Manson.

Wendi and I after our hike up to Pittock Manson.

To this day, I think that’s one of the smartest things I’ve done. Telling people, hey, I’m having a hard time. Help. The love from across the miles came pouring into my inbox, those who couldn’t make the trip, sent me regular emails and notes of encouragement. One girl responded to my email with a proposed flight itinerary.

That girl is a crazy, hilarious no-holds-barred badass named Wendi. I interviewed her for a story a few years ago and we clicked like old besties. She came to Portland for a long weekend and fit perfectly into our family, which makes sense because she is family. We drank copious amounts of wine, checked out new restaurants, went hiking and had long walks around the neighborhood, gabbing and laughing all the way. There were also two late night dance parties that I’m sure pissed off my neighbors, because we were very loud and zero effs were given.

It’s always refreshing to be around someone who understands your core. It was good to see myself in her eyes. I had begun to question my judgment because I kept running into toxic people, Wendi smacked down that notion and all of the other negative notions that had been festering over the past year.

I was bummed when she left, so were my boys, but she helped connect me to me if that makes sense. So I’m going to try to do more writing, for Wendi, for you and most of all, for me.

My recycling bin after Wendi's visit. Granted it wasn't just us, Hubby helped fill the bucket too.

My recycling bin after Wendi’s visit. Granted it wasn’t only us, Hubby helped fill the bucket.



This is what friends are for… — 15 Comments

  1. Hi there! I am sorry to hear that Portland hasn’t been what you thought it would be, especially since I too am a Chicago writer planning to move there in July. I found your blog a few weeks ago after googling “moving from Chicago to Portland,” actually. I’m glad you reached out to friends and that they were able to give you the support you so needed. That really can be tough to do.

    I hope we cross paths through storytelling in Portland this summer! Keep writing!

    • Thanks for your comment! Yes, the storytelling scene is fantastic, everyone is so welcoming and supportive. A lot like Chicago’s storytelling scene in that respect. I think the kindness in storytelling crosses all boundaries. As far as moving to Portland, I think it’s a great city if you’re white as you aren’t subjected to the micro and macroaggressions. That probably feels uncomfortable to read because, who wants to live in a place where many, many black people don’t feel welcome? But in Portland proper there are good communities who are aware of double-consciousness and longtime Portlanders who can speak honestly about race relations in the Pacific Northwest. If you want to talk more “off line” shoot me an email. 🙂

  2. Wow. Just wow. I’ve read this three times, while both laughing and crying. clrying? 🙂

    I am SO, SO blessed to have you in my life!

    Love you, Melanie. My friend. And family.

  3. Dear Melanie,
    I just wanted to send you a great, big hug.
    I have been fortunate enough to never have had to deal with racism but I can only imagine what it must be like to be judged purely on the color of your skin when all you want is to take in a new place, open up and just be amazing Melanie. I had no idea it had been so hard and I am sorry to hear that it stopped you from doing what you love most for a long period of time. That is also why I am so happy to hear you refuse to put down that quill (I’ve always been a bit old-fashioned) but that you will keep on being you because that is what you do so very well. I’ve never heard a more contageous laugh than yours and I really hope it will be heard more often from now on.
    Lots of love, Anita

    • Thanks love! You put it perfectly, all I was wanting to do is take in a new place and be amazing. 🙂 I appreciate your kind words, and hugs from afar. I’ve received another big dose of support from my friends since posting this and it’s funny how 99% of them mention my laugh. *snort* Thanks again Anita.

      • If I could afford it, then I would take a direct flight from Brussels to Portland and drop your precious phone into a cup of salsa. Then I would turn around and go back to Brussels immediately.

        PS. I don’t miss your F-15 sneezes.


        • HAAAAAAAA!!! My phone could totally use some salsa-dipping right now. And it’d be the best damn salsa you’ve ever tasted, because the food here is crazy good. Thank you for providing the most accurate description of my sneezes to date. F-15 sneezes. I love it!

  4. Melanie,
    Glad to hear that you managed to get out of the bucket. I always wanted to know you better when we were at AP. I love reading your blog and happenings on Facebook. You are bold, brave and beautiful…God made you that way. Don’t ever change or forget it.

    • Thanks babe. I know I’ve been through way worse, but you know sometimes you’ve got capacity to deal with things, and sometimes you don’t. I’m glad you love reading my blog, and blatherings on Facebook I’ll keep it coming (or at least try to!) I like the idea of being bold, brave, beautiful. I’ll remember that. You know, you’re a big piece of awesome yourself. I know what you mean about knowing you better. Our annual meetings, never quite seemed enough, you know? Big hugs to you, you gorgeous, smart woman.

  5. Hey lady!!!! Don’t forget!!! Another blondie is coming your way! Sounds like I have big dancing/drinking shoes to fill. Can’t wait to kick some Portland Ass!

    • Ha! No shoes to fill, everyone who has come/is coming to visit is unique and special and fills their own shoes perfectly fine. I’m so honored that you’re coming out here. And stoked. It’ll be a blast.

    • Thanks Jess! I’ve been using your advice of “only two months” to brighten my perspective, which also was very helpful. Remember the melancholy thing? It’s only grown worse since I last saw you, but onward and upward!

  6. Great piece Melanie.
    Been trying to reach you on multiple platforms.
    Friday Jun 19 at Eugenios at 8:30.
    Sunday Jun 21 Analog Cafe 7:30..

    Hope to see you there! Hit me up with your enail address when you get a chance..

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