Because it was too sunny in LA, she decided to go to Portland. The city offered a kind of enchanted familiarity and comfort she felt having never been. So even before she went, she had made up her mind it would be everything she wanted. Honestly though, she, luckily, hadn’t made any expectations in her head of what it might look like: Only what the city might feel like. She was looking for that understood bond of kindred spirits — some of course quietly loved their city’s rain and some suffered through with a selfless sense of calm, knowing they were in good company, in fact better company than when the city was flogged with summer visitors.
The plane took off late but they still got there early. Looking out the window, she fell in love, actually though. She didn’t necessarily believe in love at first sight with people, but with places, certainly. A future-looking whisper of a vision seemed to drift in the air. That might be wishful thinking or a longing manifesting itself as a daydream, but she felt something looking down at that river.
With a leap of faith and the intention of giving herself room to ease into Downtown, she decided to try a coffee spot on the east side. Turned out that was a good gamble.
The driver dropped her in a desolate sci-fi movie. The wet town was truely deserted. It was as though the world had ended and despite the knuckle whitening weather, a single man could be spotted, completely oblivious to being an isolated circumstance.
But there were people, further down. And they were doing precisely what the Lyft driver said they would–waiting in a long line with hands in jeans but not much by way of warm clothes. “People here love to wait in line. Even if the place next door is just as good. They will wait together.” She was comforted to see his comment being confirmed. What was this Pine State Biscuit spot? Clearly a local favorite. She snapped a picture shamelessly embracing her outsider status. It really was just like landing in London. And what was not to love about playing anthropologist in a new city?
Alberta Ave. Who knew Proud Mary would be THE spot to get a sense of Portland’s quirkiest neighborhood. (That said, she never actually found Proud Mary, but instead landed inside Just Bob’s, which lived up to PDX’s character 10 fold.)
Crossing the bridge further confirmed the growing affair against LA. It was inexplicable, but she felt herself 10 years into the future living up in a mountain cabin off in the foggy distance. She could see herself looking back down at herself, here now.
Extending her legs into the downpour in front of Heart, she felt a little bit like Carrie Bradshaw–Suddenly empowered by the glimmering, wet bustle of downtown. She took her spot at the window sill. She couldn’t have imagined it better if she tried. The world was a blur with the rain drowning out all the conversations between beautiful people in Timberland boots, slouchy backpacks, and hieroglyphic tattoos happening around her. She was here, and this was just the beginning of her trip.
Ace felt small, but warm like an oversized den in a ski lodge. She knew the bellhop saw something in her sad eyes and she liked this. She felt he was an observant attendant, watching the coming and going of guests behind the protection of his mustache and his black knit cap. The room was sterile like a hospital room from the 70s. She looked at herself in the mirror behind the door. The skinny alleyway of the door to the bed was nice. She knew she couldn’t stand still for fear of losing her high. And her stomach killed, so best not to stay in one place. She grabbed her bag. She had a movie to see and melancholy was not an option.
Western grew on her. Looking back it’s now her favorite. Probably because she could then and still can’t seem to understand the unjustified kindness maintained by the German cowboy, in spite of endless bullying right down to the film’s final scene. “What are you looking for here?” The closing line, delivered from the cowboy’s only friend, hung in the air: A beautifully somber reminder that existing is sometimes all there is. That, and knowing you’re living out a life to your own standards no matter how much others try to break your moral fortitude and gentle nature.
Image source: Portland International Film Festival, 2017