I’m Not A Portlander*

Last week, my friend Jess Witkins e-mailed me to let me know I had won a book she was giving away as part of a contest on her blog. I was thrilled, because

  1. One can never have too many books, and
  2. It was free.

Not necessarily in that order, but then again, I’ve been outta work awhile, yo.

Jess asked for my address, and I fired off a reply, thinking nothing of it…until I received a rather astonished response.

WHAT?!  Where’s the Portland address?  I just did a double take.

Oh…right. That. I am, after all, forever raving about Portland. How much I love it here, talking about the places I like to go, even posting pictures of “my beloved Rose City.” I can see why she assumed I have a Portland address. Probably most of my readers think that. And I don’t blame y’all if you do. I kind of, sort of, (un?)intentionally imply that Portland is my home. But because this is National Coming Out Day, an occasion in which one should proudly declare the truth about whom, exactly, one really is…it’s time to step forward and admit the truth to the world, for once and for all.

I am not a Portlander.

In my defense, I’m almost a Portlander. I do live in the “Portland Metropolitan Statistical Area.” Which is why I stuck that asterisk up there in my title. One could argue (and I have, more than once) that living in the PDX MSA still makes me a Portlander. My mailing address just happens to be another city. And, if I’m being completely honest, another state.

Yes, people. I live in Vancouver, Washington. Everybody happy now?

Not a bad place to call home!

The reasons for this tiny, barely significant, reasonable-under-the-circumstances little white lie…nay, not even that so much as a minor, itty-bitty sin of omission…are pretty understandable: whenever I tell people where I’m really from, it confuses them and leads to a series of explanations that I’d honestly rather not deal with.

If I say I’m from Vancouver, they respond, “The Great White North, eh? Have you ever seen a moose? How’s that socialized medicine working out for you? Who’s going to win the Stanley Cup this year? Can you pass me a beer?”

When I correct them with a No, not Canada – Washington, I get, “Oops. So, is it true that the Beltway is the murder capital of the world? Ever run into a Congressman in the grocery store? Think the Redskins will put together a good team this year? Can you pass me some crack?”

It’s maddening, so I usually just say Portland.

Even that answer isn’t without its flaws, as I could theoretically be talking about that other city in Maine, but most people do correctly assume I mean Oregon. And that’s another reason why I don’t mind having them believe that: Portland is cool. It’s hip. It’s funky and cutting-edge and liberal and environmentally conscious and – as evidenced by IFC’s television show Portlandia – not afraid of poking fun at itself. All traits that I really like. So yeah, go ahead and think I’m a Portlander. I like the association.

And the truth is, I also like Vancouver. In many regards, living here is the best of both worlds: I’m just a few miles north of the Columbia River, the border between Oregon and Washington, which means I can easily shop in Oregon (no sales tax!) and work in Washington (no income tax!). Downtown Portland, and all the culture it offers, is twenty minutes away; the Oregon coast, 100 miles. Houses are less expensive in Vancouver, the crime rate is lower, and I can pump my own gas. Plus, it really is a beautiful town – very green, lots of trees and lakes and rivers, mountains in the distance. We’ve got a killer farmer’s market and an awesome waterfront. Some people claim Vancouver is a “bedroom community,” but you know what? The bedroom is probably my favorite room in the house. So, there!!

I no longer suffer from an identity crisis. I’m proud to call Vancouver, Washington home.

And, statistically speaking, I’m also still a Portlander. That’s called a win-win!


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

20 thoughts on “I’m Not A Portlander*

  1. I COMPLETELY understand this. I always felt that way when we lived in Haiti. I often said we lived in “Port-au-Prince,” when it was technically Petion-ville, a suburb, of sorts.

    (And Vancouver would sound confusing if you are from the Pacific, NW.)



    1. Good point! In South Dakota I lived in “Rapid City” even though it was really Ellsworth AFB…and in Ohio I thought of it as “Dayton” even though technically it was Wright-Patterson AFB. Man…it’s a wonder I’m not really screwed up…


  2. I look forward to the day when I’ll have that same problem!

    I’m finding it quite amusing that anymore, whenever you post on your blog its usually something we’ve already talked about. Considering how long our evening conversations are, I guess that’s not too surprising. 🙂


    1. Yes, please. You need to have that same problem. You need to have that same problem ASAP. 😉

      I guess I’m just going to have to surprise you with my next post and write about something completely out of left field! Hmm……


  3. Yeah…I used to get that all the time too…I just used to say “Our” Vancouver…and that usually worked…

    I really miss living down there. I mean really, really MISS it. I loved the small town feel of it, even though it’s right across the river from a major metro city. Not that Vancouver is a small town by any means…just felt that way.

    Congrats on ‘coming out’ Mark…it’s about time! LOL


    1. “America’s Vancouver” and “Vancouver USA” are two other slogans they suggest. There was also a movement a few years back to rename the town Fort Vancouver, but that sort of died out. Too bad…I like the name! Hey, if it works for Fort Worth, TX and Fort Meyers, FL…why not!


  4. Well, I have a secret to share….I knew you were from Vancover, Washington, only because of the Feedjit widget I use to have on my blog. Whenever you visited my blog, you always came up as Vancover, Washington, not Oregon. But since Oregon and Washington are so close together, I really thought nothing of it because Feedjit will sometimes give alternative addresses.

    “I no longer suffer from an identity crisis. I’m proud to call Vancouver, Washington home.”

    You GO, boy! Vancouver is gorgeous!


  5. LOL. I sparked a whole confessional post! I certainly don’t mind you not living in Portland, but you did surprise me. I still consider you my Portland news authority, after all, you have app for GPS in Powells! That’s intense.

    P.S. The book signing was on the 8th, so hopefully I get the books soon and I’ll let you know when I have it sent out. Congrats again!


    1. You also sparked the whole geoduck entry, Jess. BTW, when Tara and I are up in Seattle next week, we are totally going to try geoduck. Can’t wait for the follow-up blog post!

      Thanks again for the book. I look forward to reading it! And the Meridian app for Powell’s worked like a charm last week. It directed me step-by-step to the book I was looking for. Cooool…


  6. I stopped in Vancouver, WA on my way to Vancouver, BC this summer. We stayed overnight there on the same night that Vancouver, BC was exploding in Stanley Cup riots. (Crazy Canadians – I can say that because I am one). We both enjoyed the confusion when we posted on FB that we were in Vancouver.

    My friend and I went for a walk in the morning to find a cup of coffee and we thought it was beautiful too. The coffee place we found was so awesome, we had to stop on the way back home to California too, but alas it was Sunday and it was closed.


    1. Hi, Bethany. So…the Great White North, eh? Have you ever seen a moose? How’s that socialized medicine working out for you? Who’s going to win the Stanley Cup this year? Can you pass me a beer?

      And, thanks for stopping by! 🙂


    1. Tori – I say, OWN YOUR HERITAGE! Be proud of your Southern roots. There ain’t no shame in that.

      So, still bitter over the whole Civil War thing? Have you fried anything lately? Can you pass me a sweet tea?


  7. Totally understandable. When we traveled through Oregon and Washington last July, I was confused by the signs for Vancouver as we got near the border – I had no idea there was one in Washington. I’m sure people have the same problem when they approach Versailles, Kentucky, wondering how they got to France so quickly.


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