Today the missus and I took a walk in our old neighborhood in Sunnyside, on SE Belmont. We make no bones about it, we would move back if circumstances allowed. We’ve always regretted moving from that street.
How to describe Southeast Belmont Street? The first word that comes to mind is ‘eclectic’, but then in Portland it’s practically an unwritten ordinance for citizens to use that word when describing their neighborhood, or favorite eatery, or church, or pet. Calling Belmont ‘eclectic’ is too vague; calling it ‘trendy’ is a crime (and I avoid that word in any case. Blech.); the neighborhood feels too lived-in to be trendy. That’s the way I like it. And ‘neighborhood’ is a misnomer here anyway, as the street runs through three neighborhoods as it stretches from SE 12th to SE 60th. The Belmont Area was originally developed around the first trolley line established in 1888, if you like history stuff and/or like puffing up a paragraph like I do.
We lived in an apartment in this house, at Belmont and 29th. We spent hours on the front steps hanging out with friends on warm evenings, listening to the kitchen clatter of Genoa across the street, or sitting in the yard out back drinking and probably annoying dwellers the next building over (we learned of Princess Diana’s demise while sipping atomic lemonades at a table in that yard, our friend Darcy dashing out of her apartment shouting “You guys! Guess what!” Those were good days. Well, for us they were. For Princess Di, not so much.
The house is still there, although most of the tenants have moved on, as we did. The street has changed in the intervening years, happily not losing its slightly-slouchy hands-in-pockets mien. Some businesses closed up, others have opened. The Pied Cow is often a reason for visiting Belmont these days, meeting friends for sips and dips in the evening air of the yard, but other places are attractions as well. The Belmont Inn still props up its corner, and The Belfry and The Cricket Café persevere. Aalto Lounge, and The Laughing Planet Café, and of course Avalon Theatre and Wunderland, seem destined for perpetuity.
Two new (to us) places afforded the missus and me an interesting and tasty stop. Saint Cupcake Deluxe, at 33rd and Belmont, serves sweet palm-sized nirvana. The wife raved about the red velvet variety while I wolfed down a german chocolate cupcake the likes of which I instantly wanted three more. The counter was woman’d by Jennifer, who was very welcoming and enthusiastic about both cupcakes and customers, ensuring a return visit. Thanks, Jennifer!
A few steps beyond Saint Cupcake Deluxe’s counter area was another shop called Noun. This store warms my steampunky heart with its tastefully cluttered display of merchandise and memorabilia from eras past. I honestly wanted every other item in there. My wife paled just a little when she saw me avidly pawing the wares; she’s always afraid I’ll over-run her household décor with gothyfroth and sepia what-nots. I resisted the urges. This time. Stephanie, the owner and curator of Noun, was very gracious and didn’t mind me taking a snap of the interior of the shop. Thanks, Stephanie!
One improvement to Belmont that took place after our move: bike lanes and bike parking! Much needed, much appreciated. Maybe I’ll take a roll on the bike through there sometimes soon. I don’t need much encouragement. It still feels like my neighborhood.