It was an unlikely romance that captured all our hearts: the beautiful, glamorous, world-renowned New York City somehow fell in love with humble, quirky Portland, Oregon. No one expected the two cities to pair up, but once they did, it felt like destiny. But was it?
After years of quiet flirtation, New York and Portland started seeing each other in earnest early last year, and they weren’t afraid to show their affection to the world. New York sent Portland lavish gifts, such as Brooklyn 20-somethings and clothes that were actually fashionable, and wrote frequent public love letters to Portland in the Style and Travel sections of the New York Times. This was the real thing — or so it seemed.
In recent months, friends of the two cities tell us, Portland and New York have drifted apart. Speculation has been brewing over the reasons behind the split — Basic incompatibility? Fear of commitment? A hot, young town on the side? But the cities themselves have kept silent.
That is, until now. Street Roots recently sat down for an exclusive, no-holds-barred interview with New York City, and for the very first time, the bustling metropolis bared its soul about the courtship, the breakup and what the future holds.
Street Roots: Let’s start at the beginning. What first attracted you to Portland?
New York City: Oh, it wasn’t just one thing. I liked the trees. I liked the food carts. I liked dogs and the yoga. I liked those quirky striped socks Portland was always wearing. I felt kind of like a teenager with a crush again, you know? And I liked how really friendly and relaxed Portland always seemed — it balanced out the craziness in my own life. I was in kind of a weird place then, and Portland was exactly what I needed.
SR: We know what your relationship looked like in the papers, but what was Portland like in private? Were there problems we couldn’t see?
NYC: For the most part, Portland was great when we were together. It was really easygoing. We took walks along the waterfront, we watched independent films, we bought organic produce at the farmers market … and we would just sit around and talk for hours. Portland is a really great listener. I’d been with all these big, heartless, self-important cities before, and Portland was so nice in comparison.
But there were definitely problems, too, like the whole winter thing. I mean, I know seasonal depression is a legitimate medical problem, and I empathize with that. Sometimes it gets dark here, too, if you wander too far from Times Square. But it would be January or February, and Portland would just keep moping around the house, all pale and listless. It started to bring me down after a while.
And there were all these little things that made it seem like Portland didn’t really get me. Like, it kept on sending me roses all the time, and I thought, seriously? Roses? That’s nice, I guess, but it’s so … unoriginal.
SR: So did you initiate the breakup?
NYC: Yeah, I did. You know, I think it became clear to me that we were just at really different places in our urban development. We needed different things. I wanted excitement, danger, passion; Portland mostly wanted to ride bikes and have talking circles. That’s cute, and I tried — I mean, I have way more bike lanes now than I did a few years ago. But I also have constantly dug-up roads and lots of cab drivers who are out for blood. That’s just who I am.
SR: You’ve been broken up for a while now. Are there any hard feelings?
NYC: No, no, not at all. At least not on my end. I think I’ll always really care about Portland, and I hope we can continue to be friends. It’s just that cities change — well, some of them, anyway — and we’re not really right for each other anymore. And honestly, I think it’s for the best. The whole long-distance thing never really works out, anyway.
SR: So what’s next for you?
NYC: That’s pretty hard to say. Right now I’m just trying to live my life and enjoy it, you know? And … well, I don’t want to jinx anything, so I won’t name any names, but I’ve kind of been seeing this older European city lately. It’s really sophisticated, really into the arts and architecture and all of that, and things have been going great so far. Sometimes I do miss things about Portland — like its coffee shops, or that adorable little train system — but for the most part, I’ve moved on.
New York City talks candidly about its relationship with Portland, By Rama Greenbush