i have been kind of sad since i got home from portland. this may be because i have been really tired since i got home from portland. i was splitting a hotel room with ericka all weekend, & ericka did not seem to be capable of sleeping past 7:30am, even if we didn’t go to bed until 2:30am. i can get by on five hours of sleep with enough coffee, but it’s definitely not my usual way of doing things. but it’s what i did pretty much every day while i was in portland. i slept for ten hours my first night back in kansas, but it wasn’t enough & i was still exhausted all day yesterday. i slept for nine hours last night. i think i might be caught up now.
ailecia made the last-minute decision to get a plane ticket & join me in portland for the weekend. she stayed with her friend laura in northeast portland. ailecia had been to portland before, but i guess this trip was especially awesome because now she wants to move there. i can understand the impulse. ailecia was drawn in by go-go dancers of all genders & body shapes at a queer dance night, the fact that there was an awesome queer dance night, & other especially awesome queer/fat-positive aspects of portland. these are the kinds of things that draw a lot of people to portland. she was always impressed by the fact that people often said things like, “i communicated my concerns to her…” or, “i hope he can accept accountability for this mistake…” etc. lawrence has its good qualities, & i always say that it’s the place to be if you have to live in kansas…but it’s still kansas. there are queer dance nights & such forth, but it’s not exactly a radical fat kid queer mecca like portland.
i’m not going to lie though. the idea of someone choosing to move to portland at the age of 34 BLOWS MY MIND. in a bad way. i was only 21 when i had to get the fuck out of there, & i’m not exactly claiming that i was an especially mature 21-year-old. there’s such an intense neverland aspect to portland. so many people move there specifically because they never have to grow up: they can get cheap rent & try to cover their bills with their weirdo art projects & they can eat all their meals from food trucks & go on lots of dates & make zines & have dance parties & ride bikes, & i guess i can understand the appeal in an abstract kind of way, but in no way does any of it appeal to me personally AT ALL. i really like being a grown-up.
i lived in portland for two years, between the ages of 20 & 22. the things that really drew me in at first are the exact same things that i came to detest before too long. i am a really private person in a lot of ways, & i started to hate that i couldn’t go on a date with someone or have an argument with a friend without everyone across town knowing about it within an hour. at first, this level of personal scrutiny made me feel like a rock star, or at least like a more interesting person than i probably am, but within a year, i hated it & i just wanted people to stop talking about me. because it’s not like all the talk was just positive sharing of news. a lot of it was mean-spirited, petty gossip. i can handle that shit if i have to…but i’d rather not have to, you know? but i know people with personalities that are different from mine thrive on that shit. quite a few people who moved to portland around the same time i did are still there & seem to be loving it.
also, portland is a town where everyone documents their own lives & the lives of everyone around them. people do zines, make comics, do photography or other artwork, write songs & play in bands, etc. i definitely (inadvertently) contributed to the idea of portland as a zine mecca in my zines by name-checking my zine friends & their projects, & being name-checked in their zines. i played in friends’ bands & people wrote songs about me & i put on art shows, etc. it seems so awesome at first…& it wore me down so quickly. just all that documentation, which turns into drudgery & consumption…yuck. ailecia said that this is one thing she loves about portland. she wants to put her photography skills to work by shooting party pics & selling people’s images back to them. “so she wants to slave for the most narcissistic assholes in town,” jared said. maybe this seems like fun to someone like ailecia, who is more social & gregarious than i am. it sounds like a living nightmare to me.
but the real saddest part of all is that if ailecia moves to portland, i don’t know what i will do with myself in lawrence. obviously jared will still be here, but when school is in session, i may as well not have a boyfriend. especially now that he’s teaching. there are other people i’m acquainted with in town, but no one i feel as comfortable with as i feel with ailecia. ailecia is closer to me in age than anyone else i know here, which…that does actually make a difference to me. i do think life experience matters, & someone who is ten years younger than me may be awesome, but is difficult to relate to on a life experience level. plus i am not so sure about the younger kids & where they are with their political ideas. i am willing to give them a chance, but i already know where ailecia stands.
i am trying to tell myself that we still have a year (at least) before she leaves & to make the most of it. & this gives me a year to build stronger friendships with other people. & who knows, maybe this portland thing won’t even happen. but it still makes me kind of sad.
last night, ailecia (& other kids in lawrence) tried to sell jared & i on coming out to a new drag night in town tonight. i was like, “please. i’m not going to waste my time on a drag night. let me know when they’re doing karaoke.” everyone was like, “drag is awesome!” & i was like, “people wearing crazy outfits & being fanciful with their gender presentations? i get that from my friends every day of my life. i don’t need to pay money for it.” & they started being all, “we need to support the younger queer kids for whom this might be their only queer outlet in kansas, etc etc etc.” must we? more specifically, must I? i wish the younger queer kids all the best, but i don’t especially want to stand around on the sidelines, watching while they find themselves or whatever. & as an older person (older than the 19-year-olds anyway) who does not especially identify as queer (merely queer-supportive), i actually feel that it might be a little exploitative of me to hang around watching them come to terms with their identities. i always felt a little exploited by the older, more grounded queers in my community when i was a young queer. i have no conclusions here–just questions. it’s funny how i always felt so oppressed by older folks in my scene when i was, say, 15 through 25 or so, like they were just there to consume my struggles or something. & now i’m 31 & so uninterested in what 15- through 25-year-olds do, but i can see them eying me skeptically & either thinking i am consuming their struggles or feeling a sense of entitlement to my time, energy, & support. not sure how to strike a balance.
portland zine symposium wrap-up post forthcoming. & new zine information as well.