For a while I have been wondering why Portland seems so much like home to me, even more than Cape Cod, where I grew up, does. Obviously, I’m not a little kid anymore, and I couldn’t stay with my family forever, and I live with my boyfriend and I have a job and friends here, but I guess I never fully expected to fit in anywhere the way I feel I do here. I didn’t even notice how comfortable I had become until I went to a store called Ranch and Home in Kennewick, Washington, and was thoroughly stared at. To be fair, I was wearing this outfit:
And Ranch and Home is the store where I saw this sign:
Still, I was not expecting the tough-looking-but-tiny saleslady to come right up to me, slooooowly look me up and down, and sneer, “May I…” (long long look at my silver heels) “…help you?”
It seems like such a small thing, and I did find it more funny than offensive, but it wasn’t until then that I realized how long it had been since I had been openly gawked at. For most of my life, whether I tried to tone it down or not, I was usually thought of (and treated) as the weird girl– in school, at work, in church, walking down the street. I kinda got used to people staring. As a kid, it never even occurred to me to try to conform. I was awkwardly tall, with a beak of a nose and a mop of bright red hair. People were going to notice me no matter what I wore, so I might as well have fun. I wore a necktie on my first day of preschool, and there was no looking back.
I don’t want this to sound self-pitying. I would be a total jerk if I expected to be able to dye my hair green without old men constantly saying, “I think you got something in your hair.” But still, this feeling that I belong is something I didn’t experience outside of my family until I moved here, and it happened so easily that I almost didn’t notice.
I should also note that scary salesladies aside, Ranch and Home is a great place to buy cowboy-cut jeans. And saddles. And boots that cost more than my rent.