* I spent a few weeks in my hometown of Tucson this summer and it was the first time I felt real culture shock traveling back. I compiled a list of things I noticed while in Tucson that made me homesick for Portland. Don’t get me wrong, Tucson has its own value…saguaros, monsoons, mountains, family, a sky full of stars, wildlife, etc. And, obviously, this does not mean ALL Tucsonans (or Portlanders) fit in to these categories.
1) When you cross the street in a designated crosswalk that does not guarantee that anybody will stop for you. In fact you’ll stand in the middle of that busy street patiently waiting for a single driver to even acknowledge your existence with a slight press of the brake pedal. They never will. You’ll just have to wait for an opening and run.
2) It’s trash day and Tucsonans have trash cans at least double the size of Portlanders and their trash gets picked up weekly. Add to that, many people have two trash cans, quadrupling the size of trash that gets removed from your house every other week. You’ll wonder what in the world are they filling those gigantic cans with.
3) If your 8 year old boy decides to wear his hot pink shirt to Target you will have two separate Target employees comment on the color of his shirt and the correlation to his purchase (a hello kitty watch and cd player for a bday party). You’ll have to refrain from giving both employees a loud piece of your mind and assure your son that pink is a perfectly awesome color for boys.
4) There is no friendly conversation between you and any service person (minus one engaging waitress I had). You forget quickly how friendly Portland is compared to other cities. The moment I got back in to town I shopped at New Seasons and came home glowing, “Oh, so many people to talk to in New Seasons. Everyone is so nice!” And they were playing Nahko and Medicine for the People. Grocery shopping doesn’t get any more engaging than it does in Portland.
5) You have to pump your own gas in Tucson and you will quickly realize how awesome it is to have pump attendants especially when it’s 100+ degrees out and you have kids in the car.
7) Compost? What’s That? When we lived in Tucson I started a worm compost bin in our kitchen (It Rocked!) and most people thought it was weird if not downright gross. Composting is not something most people in Tucson think about.
8) Your server looks at you like you’ve lost your mind when you ask if the restaurant is locally owned and god forbid you ask where they get their meat.9) Gone are the funky, useful commuter bikes. Instead are designer, carbon racing bikes. A few grand on two wheels. I’m dying for a commuter with a basket and mud guards…my carbon with clips doesn’t have quite the flare or usefulness here in Portland.
10) Walk there? Public Transportation? Are you insane? Plan on driving EVERYWHERE.11) You begin to miss your group meditation practice so you attend a weekly meditation/yoga class and each week the class only has you and one other person. I guess meditation practices in Tucson are still a private affair.
12) Brunch is an after church Sunday event only.
13) Plastic bags are doubled up and handed out in abundance.
14) There is an obvious distinction between rich/poor. There are wealthy areas and there are poor areas. And the division between the two is very obvious.15) Need wheat berries for a recipe? Good luck with that. A wheat berry is not only unheard of but it’s really challenging to find. In fact, I never found a single one!
16) Mini coopers are swallowed up by Ford F-ton 50s. I don’t even know the name of these super beasts but they far outnumber any electric or mini vehicles. The name of the game is, the bigger the better. In addition to in-your-face monster trucks, truck after truck is adorned with NRA bumper stickers. Just in case you weren’t aware, the environmental super polluters will also shoot you because they have the right to do so.
17) After being in Portland for a time, you forget how many people drive fast and loud and that the government monitors most of it with red light cameras and speed cameras. People honk their horns for the slightest infraction, give you the finger for getting in their way, and cut you off just to be an asshole. I’ll take my 30mph streets in Portland any day.
18) You may not know what you need to purchase or who you need to vote for but somebody certainly does. You can get your answer every so many feet with election propaganda and consumer billboards.
19) Front yard chickens, gardens, and greenery are traded in for desert brown and poisonous animals. Not to mention that Tucsonans will water a grass lawn in spite of not having a drinking water supply of their own.