A weird thing happened at some point in the last few years. Portland became home. I don’t know when it happened, I just remember at some point driving back up to Seattle felt more like vacation and coming back to Portland felt more like coming home. I’ve been coming to Portland since I was a kid. Whether it was for little league tournaments or coming here with my dad to go to Portland Meadows for a weekend, I had many fond memories of this city before I moved here for the first time in 2006. For years I thought Portland just consisted of Delta Park, the second exit once you’re into Oregon where Portland Meadows resides. I was offered the announcing job at Portland Meadows in September of 2006 by Dwayne Yuzik, who subsequently not only became my boss…but became a friend, mentor and big supporter of mine, personally and professionally. I still remember my first race as the full-time announcer at Portland Meadows. Foxy Tejon and Jump Off Jerry Remer won it! That started my time here in Portland as a resident. It was October 8, 2006.
My first season here I just stayed at Motel 6 while I was down calling races and would go up to Seattle for the rest of the week and stay at my place there. I went back to River Downs in April and in 2007 when I returned to Portland Meadows I rented a room at my pal Ben Root’s house. Ben was my only real “friend” living in Portland when I moved here and he’s been an outstanding friend ever since then.
I went to River Downs in 2008 and when I left there, I was offered a full time position at Portland Meadows as not only announcer, but as the manager of guest services. I had to find a place to actually live here. After looking on Craigslist for a room to rent, I contacted a silver haired lady named Nancy about a room. I moved in with Nancy and Mary that fall of 2008 and lived with them for almost two years. Aside from Nancy’s drunken friends coming in at all hours of the night, they were awesome. Two of the nicest, funniest and most caring ladies I’ve ever met. Eventually though, when a drunk gay man was screaming at 3am about how his boyfriend broke up with him about 4 feet from my door, my need for silence became overwhelming.
I ended up renting a small apartment with a gal named Laura in SW Portland for the next few years. It was so quiet. I think her and I probably spoke 6 times in 2.5 years there. It was perfect! But Laura finished med school and moved to San Francisco so I went and got myself my own place. I do like living alone. Having to make the naked run across the hall from the bathroom to the bedroom and hoping a roommate wouldn’t see gets old after a while.
But for as many good times and memories as I have in Portland, some of my worst times have happened here. My anxiety reached record levels here. I spent months leaving the house only for work or food and then running back home. I was hospitalized at one point because the anxiety and depression got so bad. But Nancy and Mary, who I mentioned earlier? Well they of vegetarianism brought me meat in the psych ward. I mean, those are friends. The anxiety is always there…it’s level of severity ebbs and flows, but it became the dominant force in my life at some point. But I’m working on it. I also struggled with my addiction to gambling, which really became an out of control problem while in Portland. I bet tens and tens of thousands of dollars each year. Some years winning…most losing. I finally quit after making my last bet on 12/5/10. Subsequently I’ve met some amazing people in recovery and have found the process extremely rewarding.
I’ve achieved some really great things in my time here. I wrote a novel that got published. I recorded some songs I love. I started a graduate school program at Lewis and Clark. I met some great friends. I dated some amazing people. I fell in love. I had my heart broken. I broke other’s hearts. I called thousands of horse races. I hosted hundreds of radio shows. I ate wayyyyyy to much good food. I discovered the Oregon Coast..one of the most magical places on earth.
So why am I sharing all this information and why is this post called “Saying Goodbye to Portland?” Well because as of last week I accepted a job with a great treatment facility in Central Oregon near Bend as a problem gambling mentor/counselor. It’s a great opportunity and I’m so excited to enter the helping professions. I’m also excited to try a new town and hopefully meet some great new people. They say it’s an outdoorsman’s paradise…which is funny cause I’m a total indoorsman 🙂 But, life requires change sometimes…so here’s to making this change a great one.
I love you Portland. I”ll be back soon enough. Well actually I’m not even leaving for a few weeks. So ignore this last mini paragraph.