By weekend I mean Monday and Tuesday because that is your weekend when you work the Seattle farmers’ market circuit. I like Portland, but overall it was kind of a mixed bag.
Some things that were good were the foods I ate: a blackberry milkshake, vegan nachos, a spicy pomegranate margarita, a hummus sandwich. It seemed like every restaurant in Portland had tons of vegetarian and vegan options! Delicious ones! Which is cool because so often, even in Seattle, there will be like one vegetarian option on a menu and it is invariably pasta with vegetables, which is a bullshit meal to pay money for.
Another good thing about Portland is that it was still summer there, but I only brought jeans with me. My friend’s room was on the second floor of a decaying craftsman style home and those things get hot.
It was clear that this was not the home of people experienced in adulthood: dirty dishes overflowed across the counter tops, the furniture was scratchy hand-me-downs from the 1970s, three different packs of cigarettes sat on the porch, a Rock Band setup took the place of a coffee table. It was kind of nice but kind of depressing. I mean, that’s basically what my apartment looked like last year (we used a card table for a kitchen table and a mattress as a sofa), but I was always depressed about it so it was a strange relief that these kids just didn’t give a fuck.
They were different in other ways too. At ten o’clock that night we played Settlers of Catan with no trace of irony (although that game is actually pretty fun and everyone should buy it) and when I finished my PBR I wasn’t offered another. I never drink PBR, but when I do it’s not a one-beer situation. After we finished the game (I had a good run for a while there, but ultimately lost) we walked to get doughnuts. Upon passing a bar, one of the guys remarked, ‘What could possibly bring you to a bar on a Monday night?’ He wasn’t employed or anything like that which would prevent him from going to a bar on a Monday night.
The next morning we went to wander around with my friend’s sister who is a couple years older. Her apartment was filled with batiks and potted plants and sitting on the stoop of her building was a man with two pterodactyls tattooed on his chest. The sister was wearing a striped tank top that didn’t quite meet her ripped jeans and nothing else. No makeup, no apparent hair product, no wallet. She had that kind of ‘glow of health’ about her that always makes me feel inferior. I had gotten ready that morning by picking at my skin for a few minutes and then trying to figure out if the sole outfit I brought with me made me look fat. This sister probably looked effortlessly gorgeous every moment of every day and she probably didn’t even care.
We lost her at Powell’s and found her holding three used copies of Sinclair Lewis’s Arrowsmith. I almost said something about The Jungle, but luckily I didn’t because then I remembered that was Upton Sinclair. Later, over lunch at a greasy spoon type place that could make anything you ordered animal product and gluten free, she told us about her trip to the river the day before. Hiking, swimming, jumping off rocks, lying in the sun, living a carefree lifestyle, whatever. On the way back from the river apparently there had been a conversation about not wanting to work and how some of her friends’ parents question their children’s decision to be unemployed. ‘I think it’s a generational thing,’ she said dismissively.
Here is a final good thing about Portland: for 48 hours I had the lyrics, ‘Well Portland Oregon and a sloe gin fizz, if that ain’t love then tell me what is,’ running through my head.