It seems impossible to me, though I know it isn't impossible at all, that there are people in my own life who have never been to places like California or Hawaii or Alaska or Oregon before in their entire lives. I realize that sounds arrogant, but my heart holds all the people I love so very dearly and closely, that even when I'm in those places, those far off contemplative places, I often choose to believe that all of you whom I do love so dearly, each and every one of you, is right there with me, tucked carefully in the pockets of my skirts or jeans or backpack or, I don't know, riding along on the backs of my dogs. Somehow, you're with me. All of you. Right there.
Which is also, quite honestly, I suppose why I am surprised and just a little bit shocked when I turn to my professor, as I often do, I turn to him, and share a story or seven or thirty-three, and he's not even the slightest bit aware of what on this earth I am talking about and I cock my head sideways and then have to remind myself that, oh right, he wasn't there at that moment in Alaska, or California, or Oregon, or Copenhagen, and it is quite possible that he wasn't even ALIVE, (as happened last night when I was yammering on about the 1972 Olympics and Olga Korbut and Munich and Mark Spitz) and it is my duty and responsibility to decide (really it is) if it is worth it to continue to yammer (god do I yammer, people) or to just shut the fuck up already and allow us both some quiet time, time without words, time to just be, time in between, time to breathe and allow the rest of the universe to share its magnificence. Oh, yes. The magnificence. There's an enormous amount of it. Just waiting to rain down upon our heads.
Back to the places where I think you all have been. Portland is one of them. I'm certain, since I've been there so very often, that all of you have been there often, as well. That you know all about the rivers that divide the city, the bridges that cross the rivers, the amazing and swell little neighbourhoods, the fantastic people who dwell there, the weird that is just normal there, the coffee that makes you wish you lived there all the time, the incredible vegan community, the food trucks that serve every imaginable kind of food and, oh yes, the bikes! BIKES!
My professor happens to be one of those people in my life, those dear people, who had never ever been to Portland. Never. Until earlier this month when we stopped there for two days on our way to the Fair. Boy did we stop. Full stop. Stopped so much that my professor was taking names and making plans for our own return trip and sorting out exactly which colleges might employ him. No, seriously. He really was!
We rode bikes. We wandered and got very lost in funky neighbourhoods. We poked around in old bookstores and vintage shops that held magical secrets in old musty filing cabinets. Shops that contained old turntables and the amperage and wattage bulbs and microphones for ancient radio stations no longer on the air. Vinyl and furs and neon signs mixed with vintage dental chairs ready to extract your very worst nightmares!
The Backstage Bar. My goodness. I walked right in, introduced myself to the bartender, Rian, and said aloud, "Now, this is a spot to get naked if ever there was a spot to get naked!" As if I needed just a tad more confirmation, just as those words fell out of my mouth, "Friend of the Devil" came wafting from the rafters. It was a sign. I was taking off all of my clothes.
I think we three, the three musketeers, must have sat there for at least two hours talking about, of all things, religion. Not just religion. RELIGION. Patrons filed in from the end of their own workdays and slowly filled the bar. That bar is the perfect spot in Portland for spending a long and lazy afternoon. The tunes are good, the atmosphere is kind and the bartenders know to let a girl get naked if she feels so inspired!
My professor insists that we're going back to Portland soon. I want to go back even sooner. With all of our belongings and both dogs and 'lilsalty and all of you who quite possibly may have never been. That's the point, isn't it? If you'd like to come along, naturally. You're welcome to join me.
Of course, that probably is not truly possible, but the good news is that we have awesome friends there, my professor really did love it, and we can visit as often as we'd like.
Plus, there's a bar just behind the stage that will let me get naked. You know I'm going to have to go back. Just for that.
Honestly, my heart is huge, I love all of you and I want you to come on the adventure! Or go and find your own. This world is a huge and exciting place. There's a spot on your list I know you're just hoping to go. Now's the time. You're one of the few who put up with me. I'll go with you. You just have to ask.
Shall we go?