I haven’t told you about my trip yet because it’s so close to my heart, I’m afraid I might not do it justice with just words. I’m also afraid I might forget if I don’t write about it. So here I am, bursting.
People have asked me what I did in Portland and my response was always, “I walked around a lot, looked at books and ate some food.” Nothing spectacular happened, I didn’t even see all of the city. I went to Portland because I was going to Seattle, and I didn’t want to fly all the way across the country for just four days. So instead I flew out early, all by myself, and stayed by myself and wandered around alone. It was amazing.
The things they say about Portland are true. The bicycles, the recycling, and the coffee shops. Also the people, no one is from Portland. People just end up there. It’s like a haven for twenty-somethings to have their quarter life crisis, to go where they feel like they belong, where people get them because they are so misunderstood elsewhere. I overheard a girl telling her friends how her parents joked that she better not become a hippie and live in the park. Portland is the place I wish I had discovered when I was twenty-two and fresh out of college. It’s that place of possibility that seems secluded within itself. I witnessed a waitress become fast friends with a guy she served ramen to. I wanted to sit and observe people for days.
So Powell’s Bookstore is where I’ve sold some of my used books for cash. You can go there and sell your books to them for cash or credit. It’s the size of an entire city block and four floors worth of books. There’s a map you can get when you enter the store. I went there four times in three days. It was the first place I went after I checked into my hotel and convinced myself not to take a nap. I was too overwhelmed to stay very long, so I swiped some maps and returned later.
When people asked me what I planned to do in Portland, I told them go to Powell’s and Voodoo Donuts. Who needs a better plan than that? I also planned to explore food carts and just be somewhere new for a while. The food carts parked around an entire city block of space, and there were so many different cuisines. I bought samosas at an Indian cart and while I waited for the samosas to cook the man gave me half a cup of hot chai. I drank chai in the drizzly rain then ate on the sidewalk while the samosas were too hot not to burn my mouth.
I found VooDoo donuts accidentally when I took the long way back from the Post Office. Aside from the sign it blends into the buildings, and I wouldn’t have known I was passing it if I hadn’t looked up at the right time. Inside there were donuts shelves in two round display cases on either side of the counter. There were donuts with fruit loops, ones with bacon and oreos. One I bought was called Old Dirty Bastard and it had chocolate, peanut butter and crushed oreos over a glazed donut.
On the last day I took a train to Seattle and left the city behind. It’s not some place I’d like to live. I don’t feel homesick in that way I feel homesick for California and Italy. Staying in Portland was like staying with an old friend. Comfortable but not too familiar. And I definitely want to revisit.