This morning I flew up to Portland from my home in Ashland, nestled in the Klamath-Siskiyou mountains of southern Oregon. Every where I look I am reminded of the story of my life, interwoven in these streets, layered in space and time and memory. I lived and loved in Portland for eighteen years, after growing up in Brooklyn and going to college in Ohio, before I moved to Ashland in 1999.
On the cab ride into town from the airport, we pass Providence Hospital, where I taught my first regular movement classes as part of a dynamic physical therapy and endocrinology team.
As we cross the Willamette river I see an old stern wheeler, reminding me of my cotton-peddling ancestors who lived on the Mississippi at the turn of the nineteenth century.
From my hotel room on the fourteenth floor I can see south and west across the city, my old stomping grounds. The south window looks up the Park Blocks toward the Oregon Historical society, where my father, George T. Resch, worked as book designer at the Press, and talked with my then future husband, Richard Seidman, about planting trees to offset paper used in book production, a desire to honor trees and the Earth that would lead to Richard and my meeting and marrying, but only after my father had died and himself returned to the holy ground.
Past the Historical Society is Portland State University, where I danced in PSU’s The Company We Keep and studied science on my way to becoming a physical therapist. Through the west window, about a mile away, I see the neighborhood where I first lived in Portland in 1981, my old block on Osage Street marked from afar by the historic large pink Art Deco Envoy apartment building.
For lunch I order gourmet deli take-out from the young, artsy, urban wait staff across the street, and remember when I was a young, hip, artsy, urban wait staff in one of Portland’s first gourmet delis, Savoir Faire, a few blocks east. That’s where I first met Jeff Stewart, now Nia’s CEO, when he had just arrived in Portland and was looking to start a restaurant delivery business on a shoe string. Jeff and I met in 1983 – the year Nia was born in San Rafael, California.
Across the street from my hotel is the elegant central branch of the Portland Public Library, with its wide stairways and wide ears, holding all those books inside its big, old, intelligent head, a favorite hang out in my early days dancing in the dance studios of the nearby Pythian Building, where, tomorrow, gods give us life, I will begin the much-awaited, seven-day Nia Next Generation Trainer Summit at Nia Headquarters.
They call downtown the heart of Portland. And I feel Portland in my aching heart, and to Portland I bow for making me who I am today.