where you at

I’ve been wanting to visit my sister for a couple months now. So instead of coming home on Sunday with my family, I did just that instead. My father attempted to spoil my plan by refusing the necessary use of one of his vehicles (or sort of refusing – offering a mean-spirited grunt, is more like it), so I merely bought train fare, provided Ralph with a scant dozen list of friends to babysit Nels, packed a bag for Sophie and I, and asked my parents for a ride to the train station (which they kindly acquiesced to).

Amtrak is heading downhill from what I can tell. Shortly after I boarded there was a ticket kaffuffle, the train was late (and didn’t make up time; it never seems to try), and the two men in seats next to ours managed to drink a heck of a lot of beer purchased in quick succession in the “bistro” car. Both men were enamored of my daughter; the younger of the two showed Sophie pictures of his two-month old daughter and plied her with offers of food and finally, a “lucky rabbit foot” (which will be disappearing sometime in the next few days). An early instance of what I suspect will be many, many times my beautiful daughter will attract the attention and unsolicited gifts of older, slightly creepy, men. However these two did not cross any line of decency or courtesy, and my daughter held very impressive conversation with them. Our experience was just part of being a girl, I guess.

Sophie likes the city. Right after disembarking from the train and meeting up with Jules, she took us to a funky restaurant downtown that specializes in unusual Cajun-esque cuisine, communal tables with nice linens, loud rock and roll (Beastie Boys and Bon Jovi featured during our meal), awful, and I mean awful waiter jackets, and giant tinfoil sculptures for the wrapped leftover (Sophie got a “boxing bunny” made by a ten-year veteran server). We made it to bed about midnight, and Sophie slept the sleep of the dead beside me.

The next day after a cozy sleep in my sister’s apartment (my singleton friends and family’s studio and one-bedrooms fill me with such envy!) Juliet made us a lovely pancake breakfast. My daughter ate pancakes and cereal, milk and then, after a rather short neighborhood walk, stated: “I’m hungry”. Back to the apartment for fruit, cheese, and crackers. Then a scant hour later: Mexican food at an authentic, tasty, inexpensive restaurant.

In the afternoon the three of us met up with friend Reece and boyfriend Tristan at a slightly less exotic location in NW Portland. It was good to see Reece again; he is no longer the skinny, gawky boy who flapped alongside me as Uncle Growley (??) to my Wicked Witch of the West in our freshman high school production of Wizard of Oz (gee, and he ended up going fag. Who knew?) but rather a somber, beefy, bearded hunky man. Sophie behaved well as we discussed jobs (both boys have interesting ones, at least to my occupation-starved mind), children, Beyonce, housebuying, and Portland diversity. We say goodbye and head to a trendy market for dinner groceries (I’m cooking) before heading to her apartment for some downtime.

Buy, buy, buy – the city. I am being judicious – only buying things I already wanted to purchase before I visited (OK, and honestly, the list of my “wants” isn’t that long!). I don’t know how I’d navigate if I lived in the city; but indeed the choices might make my life easier. It is certainly wonderful to have a Portland veteran as my guide; I have only to say, “I’m looking for Aveda,” before she happily takes me there.

Sophie watches a nature show on VHS; my laundry tumbles in the basement downstairs in the complex. Time to get dinner started and refresh ourselves for more city life.

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