Tap water in a plastic bottle to drink, "Harmony" by Elton John (at long last) on iTunes. I woke up this morning from a horrible dream about a dead, desicated hamster coming back to life. It doesn't take a dream interpreter to tell me it's time to get home to Dave, Jessie, Seraph the deerhound, Baxter the Spaniel, and Tuffy the hamster. But when I do leave Portland, I'll take wonderful memories and both new and deeper old friendships. I hope. After the other night, two of my friends (one old, one new) either still like me or curse my name and spit to the side while making the sign to ward off the eveil eye. It was a good night, and I promised I would take full responsibility for what happened so here we go...
Kris from Atlanta and Cindi from Prescott and I all decided to meet for dinner after class on Tuesday. We're all staying the PSU Broadway dorm so when I got off the bus coming from my class at Linda Ethier's studio I headed up to Kris' room for a quick glass of wine and off we hiked to dinner at McCormick & Schmick by the waterfront for a big night out as they each had to catch planes home the next. I say "hiked" though the entire distance we were heading downhill. But I'm a worrier. I'm not kidding that it was *all* downhill. First we went one way downhill, then we went another way downhill. So I started fretting about relaxing over dinner with a bit more wine, good food--and the commensurate loss of energy and muscle ambition--and then having to really hike home up hill all the way. It could even snow and we'd lose our shoes! My fretting was compounded by the U shape our journey took. The shortest distance from Point A to Point B is a straight line--not a U.
So, dinner. Dinner was sublime. Instead of high-end seafood, I had a burger. And a couple of Negronis. (I can hear people who know me in Atlanta groaning "Not the Negronis!"). As it approached the time to leave, I began fretting again. I was, indeed, quite relaxed--some might even say lazy--and I had no interest in a true U-shaped hike. If we were to walk, there must be a more direct, faster, less-effortful path. Kris said no, no. She had walked around a lot down there and there wasn't a better way. It was late, it was dark, and she just wanted to go back the way we had come. Cindi was easy and would go with whatever we decided.
The server brought us a map, pointed us in the "right" direction, and with much grumbling (that I blithely ignored) from Kris, we headed off into the night. The night got darker. The streets got emptier of both cars and people. I confidently pointed to where we were on the map even though the lettering on it was so small and hidden under the markings for the trolley lines that I couldn't read the street names. Businesses gave way to chain-link-bordered parking lots and dark, weed-covered vacant lots under the looming freeway overpasses. Sidewalks became iffier--first existing only on one side of the street and then only on the other.
I don't know when it happened, but somehow we morphed into the characters from the Wizard of Oz. Cindi with her bright strawberry blond hair was walking down the street with her arms pointed straight out to the sides and loosely flapping (Scarecrow or what?), Kris was growling under her breath that this did NOT feel like the right direction (in a voice just like the Cowardly Lion's), so I became the stalwart tin man. We lacked Dorothy--and therefore direction--but we were ultimately saved by a lone trolley driver (dare I say Glinda the Good?) who picked up and informed us that we were down in a deserted waterfront area (no duh) devoid of taxis or any possibility of getting one. He went on to say that after he took a 15-minute break--we were at the end of the line... really--we could ride the trolley back towards PSU and the center of town to within three blocks of our dorm (still uphill, but only three blocks). Or we could call a cab and wait even longer for it to come. We had started at Point C, eaten at Point B, and then I had dragged us to a very nice trolley driver and Point A. Oh dear.
Kris took the news well as evidenced by the fact that I am here to write the tale. The surety of my continued existence was close for a moment, but Cindi convinced Kris that jail in Portland was not where she wanted to end up--and Cindi didn't want to have the hassle of bailing her out. I was very apologetic--truly chastened--as it had been entirely my fault that we were lost and would not be back to our rooms (where Cindi and Kris each needed to pack for their flights the next day) till at least 11:30. Kris grudgingly agreed to let me live as long as I posted the events here and took FULL responsibility for our adventure. I happily did so as after 15 minutes of us sitting alone in the empty trolley (the driver went off to take his break in the station) and chatting we were back to being friends. It ended up being all about the journey, and their packing and my work at 5:30 am were things that would happen later.