The Other Side of Town

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
My night in Chinatown giving way to my philosophy. The places and events that occur are true. Considering this, I am not looking for any critiques on how good or bad my spelling and grammer were. Because you just can't edit life now can you? But I will appreciate comments. Thank you! :)

Submitted: August 22, 2010

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Submitted: August 22, 2010

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The Roseland Theater on 8 NW Sixth Ave in Downtown Portland.

I came out sweating and laughing. My hair flying every which way and my new 20 dollar t-shirt tucked under my armpit. My friend, Stephanie, was right behind me, smiling dizzily. We looked like two average teenagers, riding the high of pressing up against sweaty bodies and people screaming. All in the hopes to get closer to the stage where Bullet For My Valentine was performing. I moshed. Got thrown down and abruptly pulled back up only to be pushed down again. But I didn't give a shit.

We sat down on the street corner outside the theater, catching our breaths and bathing in our babble of how the concert went for the both of us. It was my first ever mosh, and first ever concert going with just a friend. The night would've engulfed us if not for the dozens of street lamps and night clubs blazing their lights away. The streets were completely crowded with cars waiting to get out, and trash seemed to be stuck tight under buildings and corners.

Knowing that that we couldn't stay any longer, Stephanie told me to get up. I groaned, I really didn't want to. My legs were ready to fall off, I was sweating from head to toe, my head throbbed from when a crowd surfer's foot landed square on my forehead, and there was probably saliva drying on me from when some band members were spitting into the crowd. Why? I'll never know. I got up anyways and followed her down the street. Instantly finding ourselves in a whole other world.

Old Town-Chinatown.

What can I say about Portland's own Chinatown? It's dirty and houses a lot of the homeless and meth addicts. Old Town, however, is where you can find the Saturday Market. The place for Portlanders and the Greater Metro Area to show off their creations, their food, and their craziness. You find so many things to ogle and poke and examine and bargain for, it kind of makes your head spin if you've not been exposed to its atmosphere. The MAX train line runs right through it, giving riders a bit of a preview into what they're missing out on.

To their right are the food stands. Polish, Korean, Mexican, Vietnamese, Hawaiin, German, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Ethiopian...different kinds. There's also an incense shop with plenty of selections to choose from like: Butt Naked and Moon Dust or Jasmine and Erotic Fantasy. And don't forget the Hookah, they sell that too. There are local bands that play their slot in front of a few dozen diners, doing what they can to entertain. Which they do sometimes.

To the left of those eager watching passengers of the MAX are the selling stands and entertainers. Although more food can be found on this side, it's more of inventors trying to sell their product and the crazies just doing what they do best. You can find Elvis there, he'll always be there. Wanderers just trying to find a place to fit in. More homeless scrounging on the leftovers people set atop the garbage cans. Talented young men pouring their hearts into the giant plastic containers they use as drums, grabbing hold of most passerbys.

Skidmore Fountain lays several feet from the MAX line, that's where most of those drummers perform. It is the largest space. And children can climb onto the fountin and peek into the questionably murky water, daring to stick their hands in. But we Portlanders know better, don't even think about getting in that water. The stands can go up for maybe a block. They're all pushed together, suffocating buyers with so many trinkets and gadgets and shiny things. Lots of Henna Tattooing going on, I remember getting my first one. It was Japanese, and I had no idea what it said.

But the one thing you can always find and will keep finding at the Saturday Market? People. Some crazy, some benign, some reckless, and the rest just there to watch the show. If it's one thing that keeps the Saturday Market alive and intriguing, it's the people. Without them, it'd just be another market. Not the place so many have come to love and revel in its intoxicating air. The best days are when the sun comes out. The aphrodisiac that it is tempts so many to venture into the heart of Portland, to eat and buy or watch and get involved. Any way possible to be satiated.

Of course though, it's better to go on Saturday or Sunday and not Monday through Friday. Otherwise you're gonna be looking at a whole lot of nothing. Which isn't something you really wanna look at. But it's only during the day, and Stephanie and I were walking at night. On the other side of town, away from the Saturday Market area. In the middle of Chinatown during a full moon, trying to find our ride home. We were lost. Absolutely lost in the middle of the night. But somehow I kept positive, looking at a couple closed porno shops here and there.

Plus, there were homeless people walking around pretending not to be junkies. And a couple junkies asking for money. A black woman came up to me with a limp, wearing a winter jacket and snow cap. I felt bad, really bad. There was no way I was giving her money though. Deep down I knew I couldn't, because if she had a problem then I didn't want to be part of the reason why she continued.

"Hey," she said hoarsely, "You got 10 dollars?"

I didn't even look her way, "Man I don't even have a dollar."

She shuffled off down the dark street, and I never saw her again. Next we heard a couple people shouting, older people. We kept backtracking and going different directions to find our pick up spot. Finally, after asking two strangers where so and so street was, we found a black car waiting for us on the curb. We rushed inside, clicking our seatbelts on, and immediately driving away. The urban jungle being left behind, and every one of its night-time prowlers.

Home on 118 Birch Ave.

I got out of the car, holding my bag of Taco Bell. It was dark, the kind of dark where even the street lights don't dare to venture far from their comfortable position. My house looks old and decrepit as usual, but somehow we get visitors. Living in a house where the previous owner had died inside was one thing, but not knowing which room she died in was another. Sometimes I think it's my room. I just feel a sort of energy all the time, like someone is with me, watching me. My mom and my younger sister are over-dramatic about it of course.

As I unlock the front door I sigh, walking inside I inhale. The living room light is on and my sister is watching tv as usual. I go into the kitchen and set down my food on the table, heading back out and down the hallway to my bedroom. I flipped on the light and threw my jacket and merchandise on the bed. I took a look around for a moment, soaking up the purple walls. I always want to paint my room when I was lving in our apartment some years back, but we never could because it would cost us. You have no idea how happy I was when my mom and I went to Home Depot for paint.

Lilac Purple. That's the official color name for my walls, and I'm in love with it. I couldn't stay in my room for long though, my stomach was rumbling obnoxiously for food. So I went back to the dining room, plopped down into a chair and pulled out my Chicken Quesadilla. Now I wouldn't say that Taco Bell is in definition Mexican food, but you have to admit that they have some good advertising. Time for fourth meal. I ate and I ate. My sister coming in and asking me how the concert went.

"It was fun, I went moshing."

"What's moshing?"

"It's like a bunch of people pushing each other."

"Why?"

"Because they want to, it's fun."

"What's fun about pushing people?"

"You get your anger out."

"So?"

"So what?"

"It sounds crazy. Why would anyone think it's fun to push people down?"

"Well believe it or not some people like it."

"Then they're stupid."

"Get out! I'm trying to eat."

"Whatever."

Siblings. I wasn't in the mood to argue with her, I was too hungry. Soon I finished and washed the dishes, we have a schedule at my house to determine who does the dishes and who takes out the garbage. So I washed dishes, stacking them neatly onto the dishwasher rack to dry overnight. One of these days we had to get it fixed, there was mold growing inside from all the stagnant water filling it up. I made my way back into my room. My sanctuary. It seems like 99.9% of teenagers find their room as a world away from the world. Which I've always wondered why that is. Is there like a button on us somehwere that says to go to our rooms and never come out? Lock your door, slam it shut, and yell back replies to your mom or dad when they ask you to vaccum.

I don't know. What I do know is that I can write freely in my room without my mom seeing. I've never liked sharing my work with her, and never have. I can't explain why, it is what it is. That's how it might be for the rest of our lives. One side wondering what the other side is doing, and the other side figuring out how to keep that one side from finding out what they're doing. Back and forth and back and forth. My side of Multnomah County is seen as the "bad side". It's where all the gang violence is and where all the trouble starts apparently.

But I believe that no matter where you go, there will always be a bad side to everything. The world can't live on being good, because then there's no progress. If there's no progress, we regress. And if we regress to who-knows-what, we'll cease to exist. From what I've taken in my Social Studies classes, the most common fear among the human race is fear of death. Non-existance, for those who don't like using the D word. That's why there is evil and chaos in the world. It didn't come from a box. If sin is satisfying ones own curiousity about what an apple tastes like then I have done so.

My memory of the night in a city nestled by a river that leads to the Pacific, has led me to this conclusion. Because I saw the dark side and I talked with it and I laughed with it and I walked with it. Maybe the one side of town you think you're on is really on the other. You just have to take the first step to approach your destination.


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