When I came to Portland last year, I honestly had no idea what to expect. In my mind I pictured a parade of potential best friends lining the street as I drove into town. What I got instead was a lot of rain, frustratingly narrow streets, no parking lots to be found, and an unfurnished apartment.
Similarly, I had a perfect picture of what my new job would be like. Awesome coworkers, challenging work and a few beers throughout. I figured even though the job might fall short of my vision, I'll work there at least and year then move on. No big.
What I got instead was even better than I could have hoped for.
My coworkers were certainly awesome. And not the "They seem tolerable..." kind of way, but the "I want to hang out with this person after 5pm" kind of way. I consider my coworkers to be the first friends I made in Portland.
My work was challenging - I worked with an obscene amount of data (something I hadn't done before), and got schooled on writing faster, better code by someone way smarter than myself. And I got to design some great interfaces to display said data, also new to me, and it was a blast.
And as for the beer: there was a kegerator in the office. Fantastic.
Truly, the love I had for my work environment wasn't really matched by my life outside of work until I finally met some friends about 7 or 8 months into living here. Now, a year and half into Portland life, I have a small handful a friends that I count alongside friends I've known my whole life. They have single handedly made my Portland experience 10 times better.
Living in Portland has surpassed my expectations in every conceivable way. So I'm leaving it.
For now, the plan is to be around my family again. After (and during) that, I'll be focusing on some freelance work, on some side projects I've been putting off, and certainly more traveling.
I don't know how long I'll be in this next stage of life. I've decided to stop trying to predict that, because it's never what I expect. I just know that I love where I've been this year and a half, and who I've spent it with. I'm excited to see what's next, and ready to meet whoever I'll be going through that next experience with.
I'll be enjoying Portland through the end of October. I know it has more for me to experience, and more people for me to meet, but that will have to wait. I've got other things to do for now.