It’s taken me a few days to get my Portland entry up, mostly because I’ve been in denial that I am not in Portland anymore.
My time in the city was spent at big vegetarian dinner parties and gay dance nights and in colossal bookstores and watching Rodney Dangerfield movies, so it’s really the closest thing to heaven on earth that one can achieve. I knew I was in love when I showed up to my host’s house and there was a bagel sitting on the window sill with incense sticking out of it at every which way as a makeshift incense holder. These are my people.
The first night that I got in, Talia was hosting a dinner party at her massive, adorable house that was teeming with musicians and Australians and kittens. After a quick strategizing, we separated into Team Food and Team Booze to make our grocery runs in preparation for the meal. Lindsey, Caitlin and I were, appropriately, Team Booze and spent an hour at Trader Joes picking out wine based on the labels (and whether or not it was under $8) and agonizing over our cheese selection as if our re-entry into the home was at stake if we got the chevre instead of the brie. (Editor’s Note: What a pompous sentence.)
Back at Talia’s, it was a lot of dancing to Motown and singing along to old soul and Nancy Sinatra and…Neil Diamond. We all assumed our roles, from carrot peeler to Pandora regulator, drinking wine and laughing and meeting new people while a handsome Australian man slaved away in the kitchen making an entrée that we would all be too full to eat by the time it was done. Basically, the entire night was living out my lifelong dream of being in The Big Chill, minus dead Kevin Costner.
After dinner, we decided to go out for drinks. I was warned before heading to Matador that it is kind of an old-man dive, there might not be too many people there, it’s dingy, etc. (Editor’s Note: See, Portland really is heaven.) However, as soon as I walked in the door, I literally tripped over a Cleopatra drag queen, and there were adorable gay men everywhere drinking beers, taking photobooth pictures, and dancing to Lady Gaga. Not one to question it, I got a Lagunitas and jumped on the dance floor. During one of our photobooth excursions, two men decided that we needed guidance and decided to go all Tyra on us, from advising us to smize to helping us plan out our strip, frame by frame, with props before giving us a kiss and jumping back to the dance floor before “I Touch Myself” was over.
The next morning, Caitlin took me on a walking tour of Portland, from the parks where people were freely smoking weed to the donut shops with 2-block lines, to the Saturday Market full of hippies and vegan hipsters. We browsed and shopped and spent an embarrassing amount of time laughing at the dirty names of the incense at a head shop. The rest of the day was filled with thrifting, being scolded by bitchy boutique owners, eating massive amounts of Froyo, lusting after million-dollar purple cottages, and finding oil paintings of Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel Air. We followed this up with a carnival that cost way too much money and made all of us physically ill, but was worth it after visiting The Photoshop Booth then getting an F. Scott Fitzgerald airbrushed tee shirt.
Apparently, people in Portland actually have jobs and stuff, and don’t just live the idyllic dream life I’d imagined, as everyone went to work the next morning, leaving me to wander Portland. Continuing the trip’s theme of “My Life is Really Tough”, I spent the day trying four different coffee shops, smoking and reading in parks, and (if I could insert dramatic music, it would go here) POWELL’S BOOKS. It is one city block of books, glorious, glorious books! It also ships back to Chicago, giving me no reason to practice any restraint. When I pray at night, it is in the direction of Powell’s.
After another coffee shop, tea with Kay and John, and a stop at the Korean bulgogi barbecue tofu truck, I headed to Portland City Grill, where the view is amazing, the appetizers are cheap for fancy martini’s and mojitos with Caitlin, Lindsey, Talia and Meghan (Editor’s Note: I swear that we actually went there, despite the photoshopped-looking background of the above photo.)
After Portland City Grill, Talia invited me to “Family Dinner” at her friend Amy’s house. Furthering the Big Chill-theme, they get together for big dinners with friends and listen to music and talk about what they’re grateful for. They set up a large buffet where you put together your own grilled cheese with five cheeses, three breads, avocados, peppers…do you understand why Portland = heaven?
In the morning, before catching the California Zephyr to Denver, I got Cuban food at Talia’s restaurant Pambiche with Caitlin and Australia Chris before wandering the Portland rose gardens. As I rolled out of Portland, a rainbow was cast across the field outside of the train station. Honestly, if a unicorn would have slid down it into a pot of gold guarded by a leprechaun, it would not have surprised me. Portland was just that good, I would have assumed that’s just what happens on Tuesdays in PDX.