Where young people go to retire

My sister, Marley, is living the dream of all young people in the Pacific Northwest. According to the show "Portlandia," Marley has finally achieved the goal of moving to the city where "young people go to retire."

I went up to visit my sister this week and I thought she would be irritated by the show's depiction of Portland. My sister works very hard. Until recently, she worked two different jobs. She doesn't have a car, so she has to walk or bike everywhere, and she still manages to do regular things such as laundry, grocery shopping and applying deodorant.

She's obviously the more successful sister. But instead of being annoyed with the idea that young people in Portland act like they're retired, she just laughed and said "it's kind of true!" Obviously, with such a relaxed attitude, she must feel, at least mentally, semiretired. If I had to bike to work every day I would become extremely grumpy and step on the toes of strangers just out of spite.

My sister has always been my best friend, and I miss her terribly. Most of my friends have gradually moved to Portland over the years as well. Every time I'm visiting, people ask me when I'm going to move up. I get really tempted. I'd love to live somewhere with so many different shops and districts and restaurants. It would be exciting to work at a hospital big enough to have a helicopter landing pad on the roof, and fun to have so many different things to do and see (3-D pirate glow-in-the-dark miniature golf, for example).

But after a few minutes of imagining my life as a hipster in Portland, I never follow through, and not just because I don't look good in skinny jeans and scarves.

Many things about Portland terrify me. My hands sweat every time I have to drive over a bridge. I have never randomly careened off the edge of the road, but I can imagine myself doing it every time I drive over the bridges in Portland.

I'm also scared of parking garages. I hate driving up the steep ramps and the loud noise of car horns in the enclosed space. Last time I had to park in a parking garage, my knees shook for hours afterwards.

And, finally, coffee upsets my stomach. Coffee seems to be essential to Portlanders and, while I drink it to look cool when I'm up there, I then lie around for hours afterwards wondering if my bleeding ulcer has finally worked its way through my stomach lining.

I did have a good time visiting Marley, though. We went to see a Trail Blazers game, which was really exciting. I hadn't seen a live sporting event since high school (unless you count my son's T-ball games). I had a little bit of a vertigo-induced panic attack because of our seats, which were on the very top row, but that was quickly cured by my sister cleverly distracting me by telling me that sodas cost $15.

Once I can rant about soda prices, nothing else matters. Oh, my sister knows me so well.

I wish my sister and friends would move to a city where I am not expected to appreciate art, where no building is greater than two stories tall (beyond the simple vertigo, I also have an obsessive thought everywhere I go — what if there was an earthquake right now?), and instead of coffee shops, people would just refrain from judging me when I decide to chug down a Rockstar Energy Drink.

There would be places to go dancing on weekends and plenty of good restaurants. Things might be slightly slow in my fictional town, but that's what Netflix is for, right? Also, I'd want this town to be close enough to my parents' house, so they could continue to baby-sit my son when I'm working or hanging out with friends.

Oh, wait, I already live there. Come on everyone, move back to Ashland!

Zoe Abel was born in Ashland. You can take the girl out of the town, but"… oh wait; you can't take this girl out of the town. You can contact her at dailyzoe@gmail.com

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