This long-time Oregonian (thirty-six moist years) is willing to admit there's a lot to like about southern California. Hollywood in particular, where my daughter, son-in-law, and one month old granddaughter live.
Last weekend I stood in line at the trendy yogurt shop next to the M Café, scene of my previous intimate encounter with Kirsten Dunst--if you agree with me that sitting at two tables separated by a sheet of glass is "intimate."
This Hollywood visit, no movie stars. But there was an attraction right in front of me. Two, actually.
I couldn't help noticing the twenty-something girls as I struggled to keep my eyes focused on the menu above the counter: "Hmmm. What three toppings do I want? Kiwi, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple…"
The sight nearer at hand was more enticing, especially since we'd just finished a super-tasty M Café macrobiotic meal. The girls were blond, high-heeled, and scantily dressed. In short, they looked like most of the females in Hollywood.
More uniquely, they were remarkably affectionate in a Girls Gone Wild fashion. "I really like you," one said to the other. How sweet, I thought. She then proceeded to hug and fondle her friend. And not just in a sisterly fashion.
How marvelous, was my next thought. I'm not in Salem anymore, that's for sure.
I could stand in line for eternity at a Salem yogurt store and never, ever see the enticing sensuous display of affection (or whatever it was) that came my way last Saturday.
The yogurt was good. My memories of the Hollywood beauties, even better.
But here's the thing: as much as I enjoy spending a few days in la-la land, there's no way I could live down there.
By Sunday afternoon I was ready for fir trees and mountains again. My daughter took me to the LA farmer's market before my plane left. Loved all the fresh fruits and vegetables. Hated the asphalt and concrete.
A few hours later I plunked down into my aisle seat on the 1:35 Horizon flight from Burbank to Portland. My window seat mate and I didn't exchange more than a few pleasantries until we got to Mt. Shasta.
"Wow! Look at that," he said to me. "Beautiful." He wasn't sure what mountain it was. We agreed that it must be Shasta. A few minutes later he blurted out a few more Wow's.
He said, "I've never been to Oregon before." I told him, "Well, I'm pretty sure we're over it now."
"It's amazing," he said, not taking his eyes from the window. "I grew up in Missouri. I can't stand southern California any more. I think I'm going to call my wife and tell her, Honey, I'm not coming home. You're going to have to come up here."
"Good plan," I said. "Oregon's a great state."
The rest of the way into Portland I pointed out various sights. And also told him why Oregon looked so relatively unspoiled as we started to make our descent.
"We're almost to Oregon's largest city. But look at all the farmland and trees. That's because we have land use laws that try to keep the city citified and the country countrified. You aren't seeing sprawling subdivisions like you would if you were flying into Phoenix. Or Los Angeles."
But then I told him the bad news. Wanted to give this prospective new resident both sides of the Oregon story.
"Unfortunately, voters got conned into voting for Measure 37 a few years ago. If it isn't fixed, Oregon is going to start looking a lot more like southern California, because subdivisions will be allowed to sprout on farmland and forestland."
He turned to look at me. "That'd be terrible," he said. "I sure hope that doesn't happen."
Me too, my friend for a two-hour flight.
Thanks for giving me the chance to see Oregon through your eyes for a while. If it wasn't for you, I would have had my nose in a book instead of looking out the window with you at this state's marvelous beauty.
Legislators, do the right thing. Both for everybody already living here and for new residents who don't want Oregon to look like the asphalt jungle they just escaped from.
Fix Measure 37. Now. Have the guts to do what needs to be done to keep Oregon Oregon, not southern California.
I've got no problem with importing beautiful yogurt-loving Girls Gone Wild'ish babes from down south. But let our neighboring state have the endless subdivisions and traffic jams, not us.