As I mentioned on Sunday I just returned from Portland, Oregon. If you have never been, I cannot recommend the city enough. I have been to Seattle, and to San Francisco, and to Los Angeles and San Diego. Portland easily tops all of those. It is up on the list of favorite cities with New York. The scenery, the people, the food; these all combine to create a wonderful world class city, with a small town feel.
I could tell so many stories. Of getting up at 4am, after going to bed only three hours earlier. Of my son singing in the backseat. Of some of the hairiest driving I’ve ever done, exhausted, in hard rain, in an unfamiliar vehicle on unfamiliar roads, right next to semi-trucks going 70 miles an hour.
I could talk about staying in Salem and some of the best Chinese food I’ve ever had. I could share about taking my son to the Portland Children’s Museum and watching him run around, playing and pretending. Of having to walk away from some of that because my anxiety got the better of me. Of eating at Elephants Delicatessen (which, if you ever get the chance, you should really eat at), and having amazing pulled pork.
I might even talk about traffic in the suburbs and the beauty of Lake Oswego in the rain, or dinner at the “Oldest restaurant in Portland,” (Hello Huber’s!). Even about visiting Apple Stores or beer, both of which I could talk about at length.
No, I want to talk about how I almost killed my child.
It was the evening of our first night in Portland. We had finished dinner at an excellent fondue restaurant and had decided that we wanted crêpes. Utilizing Yelp, which Portlanders seem to take very seriously, we had found a restaurant a short walk away.
This being Portland, it had been raining, and we were all enjoying looking at the architecture and sights. Portland is a beautiful city, and in the evening light, with a fresh rainfall, it sparkles and shines with a very unique light. We passed gorgeous old apartment buildings and a beautiful park. We passed a building with an amazing dome, and an elementary school.
We also passed a row of houses, all painted in different colors. When we had passed the beautiful park just a block earlier, my son had wanted to go running in the grass. I had swung him up to my shoulders and we continued our walk. But as we passed the row of houses, I never saw the metal panel in the sidewalk. My foot slipped out from under me. I tried to hold on to my kid, but we were both falling fast.
I knew a couple of things as soon as I landed; my wrist hurt, my rear hurt, and he was no longer on my shoulders. I jumped up as quick as I could, but my wife was already with him. He was screaming, it was craziness for several minutes. I am both amazed and thankful that no one from the houses came out to see what had happened. We headed to a store just down the street, got everyone checked out and cleaned up. The diagnosis was a bruised forehead and cut cheek for him, a bruised wrist for me. Later on my back and neck started in, but right then, everything was ok.
Until that night.
I slept terrible for the remainder of the nights in Portland. Actually, every night since; struggling with dreams of dropping my son. Of him tumbling over balconies and falling into pools. And I know it is silly and needless and he is fine. I know that it was an accident and that it could have happened to any of us that night. That I did the best I could in the moment, and that it could have been much worse. But my mind just won’t stop showing me.
I love traveling. I love finding the places you were not expecting. The surprise and the beauty of a new place, or rediscovering the qualities of an old favorite. I love finding the character of a city, and how it’s people react. I like finding a great coffeeshop or bookshop or breakfast place. And Portland had all of these, believe me. In fact, Portland is one of my favorite places I’ve been to. And I look forward to going back.
I will always remember the beauty of Oregon. The clouds seem bigger, the rain not as terrible. The people are amazing and the food is to die for. Coffee and treats abound, and nature is 20 minutes in any direction. This is the Portland I will take with me. But it will also always be the place I almost killed my kid.
Note from Author: As I’ve shared this story with several people, I have heard so many stories about how other parents have had moments that almost killed their offspring. The more stories I hear, the more I realize that I am not alone. Thank you for sharing.
Also, if you have anything to share about your travels in general, or Portland in particular, please share. I am planning my next couple of trips, and would love to hear any suggestions you have!