Stopping to Smell the Rose City

For the last five days, I was soaked in the smell of roses and wind coming up the Willamette River. I feasted on marionberry pie and drowned my sorrows in Kell’s Irish Red. I walked no less than three bridges connecting the two halves of the city, and my feet are aching even as my heart is light.

I’ve never been to Portland before. It was everything I wanted it to be.

There are very few places on this earth that I have felt that need to lay my head to rest. Once my feet find their way to new soil, my soul stirs yet again, wondering where my next steps will lead. The wind calls me forward to new spaces and new skies. Always new and never once looking over my shoulder. Then, there are places where the wind seems to stop. Something in my bones sighs in relief, as if they were waiting all this time to finally succumb to gravity. There was Galway, Ireland, with its gray slate shores and the salt from the ocean spray heavy in the air. There was London, England, with its bustling metropolis steeped in tea and history. Back in the States, I never managed to find that same beautiful relief.

Portland, Oregon is now on that list.

It’s an old world city with modern tastes, Victorian bones draped in roses and ivy. Quirky and understated, the city bursts life as the sun sets, its streets teeming with laughter and drink. And, as the sun rises, it sighs in relief, sinking down into shaded doorways and porches succumbed to honeysuckle.

I have no time to rest. There is simply too much to see and new air to breathe. The wind at my back is still pushing me onward. Still, there’s the barest ache in my bones, in the soles of my feet. Maybe, one day, the wind will take me back.

Until then, I’ll remember the roses.


Published by Ren Martinez

Ren is a thirty-something Lost Boy whose personal aesthetic is “suspected of witchcraft by local villagers.” She subscribes to cheerful nihilism, the destruction of the patriarchy, and the belief that glitter makes everything better. She is a Richmond-based writer and performer who has fiction and non-fiction work found in a variety of publications, such as The Mary Sue, RVA Magazine, The Quotable, and Nostrovia Press. She is currently the fiction editor and a regular contributor at Quail Bell Magazine. She is also the co-host of the podcast, This F***ing Guy! Find out more at or read her dumbass tweets on Twitter @itsrenmartinez

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: