Proof that I am losing my New Yorker edge

There’s a long line at the Walgreen’s pharmacy. I am balancing a full bag of groceries in one arm and my heavy gym bag on my shoulder. I am somewhat irritated with myself for choosing to enter a Walgreen’s during rush hour.

The lady behind me is sighing loudly to let everyone know she is in a hurry and is more important than everyone else; I pretend I can’t hear it. Someone else cuts in front of me to be with her family but checks out separately anyway; I say nothing.

Finally get to the counter. The technician, after first going through a rigamarole to update my address (which has been listed incorrectly for 6 years without causing any issues), insists on a pharmacist consultation.

More waiting.

When the pharmacist arrives, she reads the instructions out loud: “Looks like you’re supposed to apply cream to the affected area once daily.” She shrugs. SHE ACTUALLY SHRUGGED.

Old New Yorker Laura would’ve wanted to punch her in the face. Old New Yorker Laura would’ve said something sarcastic instead. On the way out, Old New Yorker Laura would’ve exchanged glances with Sighing Lady and said, “You know why it’s taking so long? Because they think we can’t read.”

But New Portlander Laura doesn’t do any of these things. Instead, she takes the bag of medicine and says:

“Thank you.”


New York is changing, too. This is the parking garage on my street, which closed last fall because the building is slated for demolition. It might already be a new set of condos by now.

On shortcuts and adventure and deciding with your gut

10 years ago today, I woke up somewhere outside of Moab, Utah. I’d made a navigational error the day before (a “shortcut,” I’d thought), and after a harrowing hour-long fishtailing traverse over a gravel mountain pass in Southwestern Colorado, I drove as far as I could before my eyelids began to fail me. I unloaded my dog and my Geo Tracker at the first empty bed I could find (using a phone book!), which was in a run-down RV park/cabin complex on the north side of town. I was terrified and regretting my decision to move. So was the dog, who peed all over the cabin in an act of defiance.

When I awoke I was surrounded by an incredible beauty of red bluffs and cliffs and mesas. And I thought, “Maybe this will all work out after all.”

The next day I would arrive in Portland. I had no job and no plan. I moved here for a relationship destined to fail. I was 23 and absolutely clueless.

This is how I’ve lived my life. Random decision after the next, turning around only when it doesn’t feel right anymore. Following dotted lines on maps because they look like shortcuts (note: these routes may be more direct but they are not paved). But somehow, Portland never didn’t feel right anymore.

And then, three years ago today, I woke up and married this guy. Of all the questionable decisions I’ve made in my life, the one to keep on driving that morning was likely the one that ended up, eventually, making me the happiest of all.

Photo credit: Bryan Rupp,

Photo credit: Bryan Rupp,