Portland is a damp evergreen paradise. The spot is some kind of urban forest wonderful, where the air is fresh like the rain that constantly kisses the ground and the streets are filled with bikers on their way to a farmer’s market. Yes, I loved Portland almost immediately.
The best trips are not about visiting places, they are about visiting people. I didn’t take a red-eye flight to explore Portland, I took an exhausting red-eye flight to visit one of my dearest friends, Autumn. Autumn is more than a dear friend, she’s truly my soulmate. We met five years ago while studying abroad in Brussels, Belgium and become inseparable after a trip to Cologne, Germany where we placed a lock on the magical Hohenzollern Bridge. Since then, we have laughed and danced our way through six countries and five U.S. cities, with each journey better than the last. This Portland exploration was no different.
We kicked off our reunion with a trip to a local karaoke bar, where the scene was loud, wild and fun. My performance included a Prince “Raspberry Beret” tribute and a fierce rendition of Cher’s “Believe.” The celebration started the Portland experience on the right note!
The most important thing to know about visiting Oregon is there’s no sales tax. Let me repeat that. There is no sales tax. Grab those running shoes and forget about your savings account, because it’s literally time to shop till we drop! Portland has awesome thrift stores where items are actually fantastic and cheap. In New York, a shirt at a thrift store costs $125 and I am like, “Um, why are you called a thrift store?” My favorite spot was Artifact where I purchased the cutest fall jacket and dress. I also really loved Crafty Wonderland for unique souvenirs and pug earrings (yes, you read that right). If you’re a bookworm, head to Powell’s Books, the world’s largest independent bookstore.
If you have access to a car, I highly recommend checking out the Oregon coast. The road trip there from Portland is about an hour and a half, with each mile filled with evergreen trees, mystical fog and soulful skies. On the coast, it is a requirement to see Haystack Rock, you know, where The Goonies ending was filmed. The rocks in the water? There ya go. After you snap some pics with a Goonies quote, head to the cutest beach town ever, Cannon Beach. The stores, restaurants and beach houses are adorable, all along a beautiful backdrop. Be sure to drop by the irresistible Sleepy Monk for a tea and sweet treat.
Speaking of treats, I always enjoy eating my way through every place I visit, and Portland did not disappoint. My soulmate, Autumn, is vegan so I enjoyed the local vegan fare with my local vegan gal. Virtuous Pie, a plant-based pizza and ice cream spot, is great for a Portland pie. I liked the Superfunghi pizza, with lots of mushrooms, herbed potatoes and ricotta cheese. For an amazing salad, head to Harlow, a gluten-free, organic vegetarian restaurant with homey décor. I had the Adobe Salad, with kale, black beans, red cabbage and tempeh, mhm still dreaming about it. For non-vegans, enjoy a unique variety of ice cream at Salt & Straw. The ice cream offerings are super fun and inventive, I indulged with scoops of cinnamon snickerdoodle and sweet potato casserole.
Portland is a gem of the Pacific Northwest, a little oasis where you can always find stunning scenery, a crisp breeze and special soulmates.
Dating and relationships are fricken' hard and extra fricken' hard in New York City. There are countless shows and movies about the exciting, yet challenging dating scene in the Big Apple because the unexpected is expected and just when you think it can't get any worse it does.
My dating life is New York has been magical and terrible at the same time. Within the same week, I went out with a guy who said straight-up racist comments throughout dinner and another man who took me on a boat cruise around the city at sunset. The possibilities, for better or for worse, are endless.
About a year ago, I went out with my lady friend on Halloween as her Wing Woman. It was a night that was solely about finding her a hunky guy in a hunky costume to make-out with. We decided to go to a rooftop bar that neither one of us had been to and that's when I met the man of my life that I recently celebrated one fricken' year with - Dave.
Since that fateful meeting, my life has transitioned to a better, healthier, happier and more balanced place. I am so, so very excited and grateful that I found a person who is kind, sweet, funny, smart and understanding to be in my life. I feel even more excited that we have committed to our relationship for over a year! Before Dave, my intimate, exclusive relationship experience was limited and most of it negative. I had extremely low expectations of men and had never found someone who was worth keeping in my life for more than 3 months. Here's what I have learned about being in a relationship, dating and love from our first year as a total power couple.
Expect the Unexpected
That great date you went on last Friday, don't be surprised if he never calls. BUT, do be pleasantly surprised when you fall for someone you may have overlooked or hit it off with someone at the bar that you showed up to in sweats. When I met Dave, I wasn't looking for anything and I ended up finding something wonderful.
Say What You Want
Ladies and gents, if you can't be brutally honest and real about what you want with who you're with, it's not going to work. When Dave and I first started dating, I told him exactly what I wanted and that was an exclusive relationship. There were no blurred lines and that made our relationship clear from the get-go. Do not wait around for the guy to lock it down or plan a romantic date at your favorite restaurant. If you don't say what you want, you're not going to get what you want.
Whatever you do, do not become obsessed with your partner. It's so important to have your own friends, interests and space outside of the relationship. Dave lives about an hour and half from me (NYC subway lifeeee) and although it can be v annoying, it also grants us our own distinct lives and space. I have always cherished my independence and still strongly identify as an independent woman even though I have a boyfriend. This is because I still feel like me while in this relationship and my partner fully supports my need to do my own thing.
Live It Up
If a relationship isn't worth the work, then why you in it boo? I love going on adventures with Dave and it brings magic to our relationship. Please do not become that couple that stays in the apartment all day watching Netflix... or only do that like once a week.
This is the real me: what I love, what makes me happy and what makes me buzz.