I don’t think I can live in cities anymore.
But Portland is the sweetest little city that I adore right now. It makes me wish I could live in a city, especially because beyond the lovely structure of the city itself, it’s graceful bridges, beautiful landscaping and almost Canadian-like sensibility, I have friends in Portland. Old friends, new friends.
I always feel awkward writing about friends on this blog. I want to, but I’m worried I’m going to say the wrong thing and someone is going to get mad at me – or worse, feelings hurt. And then if I just say something like, “oh this person is so great”, it’s as bland as WonderBread and that’s no fun. It’s also not who the person is.
So I’m going to try something different – I’ll introduce you but then tell a story about the person.
Geneva: she was among my best friends when I was around 14 in Hilo, Hawaii. She’s a third culture kid too – raised by Oregon hippie artists in Tasmania, Australia, and moved to Hilo around the same time as we did. In fact, we met because they were moving into the house we were moving out of.
Geneva has inspired me through the years because she was always doing something different than what I knew. She’d be making her money at craft fairs as a kid, and I had been raised with the ‘art is nice and all but HOW WILL IT SAVE THE WORLD?!’
So I loved being around her and just relaxing into a different way of looking at things. And seeing proof that art can, in fact, be a livelihood.
A story with Geneva: right before I left for Japan, I went to hang out with her at her house. We took a cassette tape I had (“Barbie’s Birthday Album” – my grandma had given it to me) and she taught me how to put scotch tape on the top and record over it.
So we layered our voices onto that Barbie Birthday Album – Ken raps and Barbie squeals and it was kind of hilarious.
I really wish I had more – and clear!* – pictures. There’s this thing though that when I see friends, I’m so happy that I don’t think about taking pictures. It’s only towards the end of a visit that I remember then of course I can’t focus the camera. It’s Murphy’s Law.
We met my friend Jason the next day.
Jason and I cooked together in Tucson, Arizona – and have been friends with some pauses falling outs – for the past 20 years. We’ve got a long friendship – millions of hours worth of smoke break talks, small road trips, long food orders. I swear, cooking through a rush hour in a busy kitchen with someone can feel like a joint emergence from a war zone.
Jason left Tucson for Taiwan – he taught English there for a while, then I think his appendix burst and he had surgery and had to leave. Something like that. It was a long time ago and I have a terrible memory.
He’s the guy who can make “assimilation” jokes with Micah, after Micah got his toy robot into a cube.
And Jason just got married! We were really happy to be able to meet his lady. Lovely she is; I’m really happy for him.
I’m trying to think of one specific Jason-story and I”m having a hard time. What comes to mind is that time when he and Maggie and I went on a roadtrip from Tucson to the White Mountains of Arizona. It was a blast – we all got along so well. We’d stop at ‘fairy spaces’ and let magic hit us (- I swear, we weren’t on drugs). I remember this one spot where we stopped and Jason and Maggie got on tree stumps and assumed superhero ‘proud and busty’ stances and let me take sepia pictures of them.
I missed being around people like Jason later – I didn’t realize how hard it is to find friends you can talk to as you get older, what a treasure a friend who thinks in off-white ways is.
Then we met Leah
A lot of you reading know Leah because she writes Our Cora Bean. I always enjoy reading what she has to say, but one of my favorite posts from her is, “Why I’m Not a Good Hero“. I was excited to meet her and Cora (who is a little younger than Moxie) and her new baby, Ruby.
You know what’s wonderfully weird about meeting someone in real life that you have known for some time online? Seeing the details. Like, how Leah has all these freckles all over her face and how light and clear her eyes are. And she has a dimple!
Leah was incredibly kind – she got us into OMSI – the Oregon Museum of Science and Innovation – and I swear, that place is another reason in and of itself to want to live in Portland. It’s like everything I liked in the Bay Area (- Habitot, Bay Area Discovery Museum, Totland, Tumble and Tea,
The next day we met again, this time with Cora and to actually spend some time together at a music show
IF I had been able to get my shutter speed* right and keep the photos sharp, you would have a better sense of how lovely Cora is. Such a delicate-looking flower, but I think as far as flowers go, she’s a sturdy one. She was so active – into everything, running around, dancing, enjoying the music. Moxie was right there, but not with her and it was fun to try and get them together to hang out, or hey, at least take a picture?!
My kids ate all of her snacks.
Of course I was embarrassed. I’m always embarrassed by how my kids act like I haven’t fed them in a week, when they are around another kid’s snack.
Portland was so much fun
We love living on the Lost Coast, it’s where we belong. But it’s good to have a favorite city to have fun in sometimes. I know we’re going to be back
* About the “clear” pictures: turns out I was setting my shutter speed all wrong. Like, really, really wrong: 1/40 – and I want to thank another friend of mine, Meredith, for teaching that to me