- #1 for diagnosed cases of depression;
- #12 for suicides;
- #24 for crime (both property and violent);
- #4 for divorce rate;
- 7.8% unemployment;
- and a whopping 222 cloudy days per year.
I had a conversation with a couple coworkers about this finding, and, without disputing the accuracy or validity of any of the criteria, nor indeed denying the conclusion, we came to our city's defense. To wit:
Yes, I'm afraid if you're going to make it in Portland, you've got to be able to endure gray skies and wet weather. Especially at this time of year, when the sun is but a dim memory. The young among us are like to scoff when we old-timers tell them about the fiery orb in the sky that provides warmth and comfort, likening it to some fanciful dream, some phantasm of an antediluvian oral history, recounted while huddling under rain-soaked hoods, clutching steaming coffee cups as if their contents were the very essence of life.
And, if we are unhappy, could it be because, far from the deluded, unaware masses that inhabit sunnier climes like Savannah, Georgia, or Tallahassee, Florida, we have glimpsed the true nature of humanity? In other words, is our unhappiness really just a symptom of cold-eyed realism?
After all, even while a slim majority of Americans were rah-rah-rahing at Junior Bush's shallow jingoism, we here in Portland were perfectly appalled that our countrymen were so god-awful ignorant as to believe in him. We came out in our thousands against his stinky war, and he couldn't even come to town without thousands of us coming out to ridicule him.
And the divorce rate? Well, say what you will about it, no one --least of all me, --is going to say that divorce is a happy turn of events. But I will say that it takes a lot of courage to face the facts when something isn't working out. And it also takes faith to believe that there might be another reality out there; one that might not be "happy," but will at least be tolerable. If we're miserable, at least we continue to strive not to be.
Sadly, some of us succumb to the burden of glimpsing the truth. For the most part, suicide is a selfish act, but God knows it takes real grit sometimes to keep on truckin' in these parts.
And that's what we've got over the rest of you, see? We're tough; we're smart; we're good. And, frankly, I'm all for perpetuating this idea that it sucks to live here. I'd rather that the rest of you stay away.
Now, then, Portlanders, we've still got a good four to eight weeks before the clouds break up. Reading is an excellent pastime. Why not curl up by the fire with a good book?
Sylvia Plath's Bell Jar?
Crime and Punishment?