How did I manage to avoid seeing My Own Private Idaho for so many years? Shakespeare transplanted to the modern day (well, the early 90s); Flea in a bit part; the slipperiness of the characters’ sexuality; repeated grace notes (a twitch, a laugh, an 8-millimeter memory) with escalating metonymic power; Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix, young and achingly beautiful; a search for a home and a family that don’t really exist. It’s like they made a movie for me, and have been patiently waiting for me to get around to watching it.

What really draws me in and doesn’t let me go, though, are the images of Portland that pepper the film. It’s not the Portland of today, the foreign city where my parents live, the Portland of the Pearl District and SW 23rd and Orenco Station. The Portland of My Own Private Idaho is the PDX of fifteen years ago: the green-and-gray downtown; street kids living on Burnside, or turning tricks on Union; the flat-topped face of Tom Peterson beaming down from atop his home-appliance citadel. Peterson has a particularly madeline-like quality for me: his store is the anchor of 82nd Ave, the axis that my childhood revolved around. His brief cameo in the film cements its retroactive placement as a classic in my book.