Wednesday, April 06, 2011
When a friend from grad school mentioned that she'd be getting married in Portland in April (and then invited me along), I pretty much swooned. I mean, Portland is only the holy mecca for crafters, is it not? And it's only been on my list of places to visit for about 4 years now. And as a way unbelievable bonus, her high school friend offered to put me up for the weekend. Two public health geeks who make our own clothing, are thrifters and foodies, and happen to share a friend who was marrying her sweetheart of 10 years? Hello. Ticket was booked in a flash. Even begged a day off work to soak it all in.
I think my heart was singing the entire weekend.
My mismatched-in-a-crafty-thrifty-polka-dot-loving-way self fit right into the bathrooms even!!! Now here's a bathroom I could totally be down with. Especially since it wasn't at all considered unusual the way it would be in so many other parts of the world. I swear, these are so totally my people. Most of my life, I feel like I've spent time fending off stares, mild curiosity, and occasional rudeness for me just being me, but in Portland, I felt like - hey, me being me is a good thing, for once.
One could, say, pay homage to Bolt and wander up to the girls who work there and ask for fooding recommendations and wind up at a cafe that sells pistachio cardamom sea salt brownies. YUM. (And Bolt? Amazing. They had this great cotton/wool blue and white Dolce & Gabbana plaid that would've made a perfect Simplicity 3835 Fall work dress, except I was overcome by indecision. Damn you, Dithering and Prudence!)
Portland is the type of city where you might wander into a plant nursery and find baby chicks going for $5.95/chick ... where an explosion of food carts leave you wishing you could just take some laxatives and get on with the fooding (OK, kidding) ... where you could spend an evening listening to the musician housemate's songs and learning a Vietnamese cross between mahjong and gin rummy ... where you could fall into an hourlong conversation with the salesgirl who has her own clothing line made from repurposed fabrics ... and where there are entire stores devoted solely to wine, flowers, chocolate, and salt.
Salt bricks! You can heat them up and then sear meat or fish for a slightly salty taste, shave off slivers of salt into a dish, or rub fruit or blanched veggies along a small square. I swear, New York hipsters, it was first found in Portland.
Also, did I mention the vintage finds? Here was this tiny van filled with thrifting goodies. Soooo adorable ... and yes, they really do have the world's tiniest dressing room! A city filled with oddities and wonders in every corner, just waiting to be discovered. And the gardens ... and the greenery ... and the bicycling ... sigh ...
When I arrived at the airport for my flight back home, I was greeted by live jazz piping in through the speakers. So I hustled over for a spot and spent a blissful 20 minutes knitting away as our musician, middle-aged and mild mannered, alternately played the trombone and serenaded waiting passengers. The last song he sang was "I left my heart in San Francisco," and as I got up to leave, the musician gave me a small nod and a wave, so I smiled big and waved back, knowing full well that this San Francisco girl was leaving her heart in Portland ...