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I had my six-month dental cleaning and check-up. I didn’t expect to see the same hygienist. At my last visit, she was planning a move, possibly to Portland but I told her she may want to re-think that. She got back yesterday and said parts of Oregon were beautiful, breathtaking, the waterfalls, cool breezes, deep emerald green forests and didn’t want to leave. They hiked every day. She grew up here in Florida and is ready for a change. What she wasn’t ready for was Portland. She said she’d never seen anything like it, and was shocked by the enormous homeless population. Tents everywhere. “They don’t bother you, she said, or panhandle”. But “you couldn’t help but feel ill at ease,” walking from the donut shop with a bag of fresh-baked donuts. She walked by a young man at 7:15 AM, shooting up in broad daylight. Drugs that come in from Mexico and China. She said another’s face was beaten to a pulp. The smell was awful. But Oregon she said, was truly breathtaking…
I asked her why has Portland turned into this refuge? Her first answer was the legalization of drugs, marijuana. This seems to lead to stronger drugs and the lack of incentive for work or a better life. We both wondered where they got money for drugs. She said even with the abundance of jobs, they are mostly high-tech and rents have become unaffordable as a result. I asked why don’t they build affordable housing? She said that’s in the works, but you still have to have a job, and the towns don’t have the “budget to build them.” No wins here. She then commented, “I get the concept,” like what they are doing in LA.”
So let them be all in one place instead of spread out: in the parks, in front of commerce, in the cemeteries? Is that less offensive? I don’t get that concept.
I then asked are you a millennial? She said she’s almost 30 and didn’t know. I asked how her boyfriend liked it, the handsome dentist. The dental office lets them stream favorite photos and music. She always hums and used to stream pictures of her and the handsome dentist boyfriend at a party, or on vacation skiing. At my last visit, no humming and no pictures. I used to think, wow – if these two ever had kids, they would be gorgeous. “Yes,” he liked it she said today but wants to move to Denver, where his family is gradually relocating. She said she wasn’t keen on being landlocked, so it will be worked out somehow… She said Denver is also starting to have a big homeless issue. Why? Why are these beautiful cities going to hell? If parts of it are so beautiful, imagine the people that would flock there if they would clean it up? More money from tourists and new industry – build more housing? Crazy idea.
She was also looking at a dual career and hinted at travel. Hmmm… she was back to humming, but no pictures of the handsome dentist. I was happy for her, wanting to see the world, not locked into one place, career, person? Two sides of the new generations, but both drifting, not sure what the future will bring. Polls out show that this generation places faith and marriage at the bottom of priorities. Communities in some major cities seem to place law and order, and care of its citizens at the bottom of its priorities. This also seems to be the same areas that attract anarchists.
I don’t understand the concept of stepping past the stench, the needles, the black and blue face beaten to a pulp, with a bag of donuts and accepting that this is the new normal. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know where this will go.Published in