Day 2: Settling into a Stumptown

Ace Hotel

Image source: Ace Hotel

The howling snow, late after Zama felt dangerous. She was frozen to the bone walking into her stark room that night, and she had to talk herself through each small task: Put left leg in pajamas, then right. Twist left contact container counter clockwise. She felt so far from everything that was real in her world. Portland was like stepping into an alternate reality. And despite feeling like a foreigner of her own life she felt right at home in that strange campy bed, nestled between heavy pillows military grade wool. It helped that she had painstakingly draped fabric on every object that blinked, make her room dark enough to suck you right into an endless slumber. As black as infinity. Engineering that level of darkness was something she was rather proud of. And being acutely familiarity with the biting cold air outside, she melted easily into her blackened sanctuary.


Image source: Kure

She woke up a new person, eager for a hot, hearty first meal. And she committed at Kure, opting for a robust medley of coconut cream, nuts seeds, and other bird seed-looking toppings. It wasn’t the best bowl of mush, but it was needed. The whole morning felt like the kind of moment you read about in Goop — a tree forest feast paired with productive wellness planning.

She took her time getting to the coffee shop. Her sweet time. It was nearly noon when she arrived. And then she text everyone. Time didn’t matter. She felt delightful, enraptured by the city. And again the google gamble worked out: Sisters Coffee was a bustling lodge of workers and chatter. Her latte was tall and it was time to settle into to mapping her future.

It was both ridiculous and yet necessary to believe this coffee chat just might change her life. She let herself get swept away by the vision of Colleen DeCourcy. The woman understood the shift happening under the feet of everyone in advertising and had a vision. Well short of. At the end of the day she clarified the current state of affairs, then dropped a single, bullet-proof line of advice for the future: “Any move that isn’t in the direction of nimbleness, emotional intelligence, transparency and collaboration, is building in the wrong direction.

Seems pretty unarguable.

It’s funny though – no matter how much a deep dive can inspired, he call of a beautiful day makes laptop life suddenly feel sinful, so she finally snapped the MacBook shut.

Screen Shot 2018-03-01 at 7.25.10 AM

Source: Pine Street Market

Pine Market. That mini food hall easily became one of the top five field trips of her PDX excursion. Trekking to that part of town felt just dangerous enough. The vintage storefronts, incrementally grungier pedestrians, paired with a killer playlist and the gait of someone on a mission made the brisk walk an invigorating experience.She rolled in ordered a big smokey bowl of rice noodles, fried egg and pickled goodness, then cut back to that record shop. 2nd Avenue. It was too good looking to pass up. And it existed precisely in the part of town it was meant to be. There was no pretense — the hits were nestled right in with everything I’d never heard of. The purity of that place. It was great.

It was worse than camp, well equivalent. The floor cracked in the middle. It was very much prison vibes and that water. She thought the ice water was some game against her, some test of her patience. But finally as if by magic, the showerhead started steaming, instantly becoming unbearably hot, but in the best way possible.

With t – 2 time, she flew down the big beamed mahogany stairwell. Thoroughbred was going to include beautiful people, and living in an aloof world only truly understood by those that have it all but lack any true sense of direction.

The ride meant traveling back over the river. What was it about crossing those bridges that felt quietly epic? Was it something about the grandeur — you can see so much — the light at that time of night? Laurel Theater’s neon sign beamed in early evening glow. It was remarkable how many theaters a city smaller an Austin possessed, and even more remarkable how many had such character. She was a fan.

All and all, Thoroughbred felt a bit hallow. The cast was stringently pared back. To see the odd dynamic of two rather psychotic girls and basically them alone for two hours is not a common movie setup. She wondered, often, what the people around her though. This young girl, watching all these films by herself.

23rd Avenue

Image Source: Eater

Her chariot to the next theater rolled up, with everyone watching, in a powder blue Ford pickup headed by an older woman sporting silver hair and a utilitarian style. You knew without asking this woman had lived in Portland long before you even thought about being born. She dropped me at NW 21s pointing me in the direction of 23rd. A delightful street of evergreen Christmas lights, beautiful boutiques and cozy restaurants that reminded you of escapist places like Georgetown, or Pimlico in south London, or Montecito, the hilly haven in Santa Barbara.

The Rider

Image source: Mubi

The only thing that needs to be known about the Rider is this: It made me cry in that cleansing way that comes in slowly, eventually leaving your face streaked with single heavy, hot tears pooling under your chin. I still liked the Western more, but in that moment there was something about that cowboy’s dedication to his siblings that was so loyal, sacrificial, and protective.

But that lingering moment could only last so long. Tomorrow required an early start.

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