Weekdays aren’t so bad for me in terms of getting out and talking to people. I’ve been good about going to Collective Agency, a coworking space here in Portland, to work remotely. There’s always a group of people working there, happy to walk to lunch at the food truck pods nearby together. I like them a lot, and it’s interesting hearing what other people do for work that allows them to do it from wherever they like. It’s interesting hearing why they choose to do it where they do.
Most evenings I go to Coffee Time, which I said in a previous post is at NW 23rd and NW Johnson when it’s actually at NW 21st and NW Irving. The people working there recognize me already and are friendly. There are always tons of people inside and outside, so I can sit wherever I want to listen in on other people’s conversations and chess games. I don’t really talk to people there, but it’s nice to be around them.
Weekends have been harder; My first weekend here, I frantically ran errands and made my summer cold and cough worse from overexertion. The second weekend, I wrote in my TinyLetter about getting very emotionally invested in Bojack Horseman on Netflix and being unreasonably sad when there was no more of it for me to watch by the time Monday night rolled around.
This past Friday, I went to a couple of bars by myself, but felt strange in both. I stayed out at the second one a while, listening to music, but never talked to anyone. I went home and slept for nearly 10 hours in a baking-hot apartment that still doesn’t have the AC unit I ordered last week.
I wasted away Saturday. I keep doing this thing where I leave my apartment and wander aimlessly before giving up and going home again. Part of it has been the heat, but part of it has been a frustrating lack of direction. My brother was home when I called him around 8 my time that night, meaning it was after 11 in Ohio. It felt so good to talk to him, and he offered some advice on how to set up my furniture after I gave him a video tour. I admitted I’d been having trouble making myself go out and talk to strangers.
“There’s an ice cream place two blocks away, where there’s always a line out the door, like Jeni’s,” I told him. “People complain about the wait, but I’ve gone there three times since I got here. I’ve got the time to wait in line for ice cream.”
I woke up Sunday morning, late. It was 9, but I saw I already had a text from my dad saying a friend of his was in Portland on business with his son, who is my age. They might want to meet up, he said, so I decided to get ready for the day in case they called. While I was in the shower, Betsy texted — the girl who is the daughter of a friend of my dad’s I mentioned. She wanted to know if I wanted to get brunch, and just like that, I had plans.
I met Betsy at a cafe in her neighborhood. After we ate and got caught up on the last 20-something years, she asked me if I’d been to Vista House yet. I told her I didn’t know what it was, and she asked me if I wanted to go. I did.
She drove us west on I-84, the way my dad and I had come in a couple weeks earlier. We took a winding back road to a gorgeous structure on top of a peak, which overlooks the Columbia River Gorge and everything else around. It was breathtaking.
“I’m glad you asked,” I told her.
She wanted to see how bad the congestion was at Multnomah Falls, probably the most famous waterfall around, and a huge tourist attraction. I’d spent months double-tapping photos of the falls on a range of Instagram accounts, and I wanted to see it in person. On the way to the waterfall, we found another, one neither of us had seen and one I’d never heard of. Latourell Falls was easy to get to and you can get even closer to it than you can Multnomah. We stood at the base of a giant, beautiful waterfall and felt the spray from it hit our legs and our faces. It was already the first non-90-degree day in several, but right then, I finally felt comfortable.
“This might be even better than Multnomah,” Betsy admitted.
I’m glad she said that, because it turned out we couldn’t see Multnomah that day. Too many people had had the same idea, and there was nowhere to park. I’d never have guessed parking would be a concern at a natural landmark, but welcome to Oregon, I guess. We headed home, glad to have seen what we did.
I’ve been thinking about Latourell ever since.
I told Betsy in the car about how my dad had a friend in town, who I was supposed to meet up with later. I mentioned that he had yet another friend, with yet another daughter our age, who had just moved to Portland.
“It’s so strange,” I said, “I feel like Portland must be made up of all of these daughters of hippies who migrated here.”
“That seems fitting, actually,” she said.
I’m going to Astoria on the Oregon coast on Saturday with my Chicago-turned-Portland friends, Christina and Kiernan. Then I’m going hiking with Betsy on Sunday. It’s nice to have trips and conversations to look forward to.