It’s no small wonderland of trees above my head, transitioning a late evening effect between sunny splotches coming through my daily neighborhood walk. The blisters on my feet have blisters, slowly forming callouses solid enough to handle the 5 or so miles I end up walking on a daily basis and helping to blur the lines between the partial reality we’ve built here in a couple of weeks and the sheer surreal outstanding that’s become our temporary lifestyle. Scavenging crows, city birds, hungry and desperate in a place where litter and roadkill is all too rare, battle a dwindling squirrel population in hopes for a day’s meal. They perch profound and dark-heroic, casting a very different shadow on themselves than the average crow, scouring and sickly in normal settings, ever could. These crows seem suited for a destiny above and beyond what Aesop could have known. I blend into one of the many enormous roundabouts that house rose bushes and secret winding paths through miniature forests tucked away in every corner of this city and let the crows have their solitude.
It’s 4:30 in the afternoon and happy hour is set to ride itself out for another few hours. A martini menu, 11 pages deep and almost all on special at the moment, lays partially covering a brief and extraordinary lunch menu touting local wild forest mushrooms and grilled bear. 30-something women dressed just behind the times smoke cigarettes and share fondue, barely touching their drinks and speaking in whispered gossips. Passers-by carrying Trader Joe bags, dozens after dozens all passing, all wielding another week’s worth of foodstuffs from the wildly popular grocer appear and disappear between the sentences of the martini bar’s patrons. The hushed whispers and occasional flamboyant laughs mingle together like a pop song to the steady beat of motor vehicles and bicycle bells drumming us all through our days, some tediously long and finally over, others just another set of hours amidst easy summer lifestyles.
Last night’s alcohol sticks to my sweat under the rarely occurring scorching Portland summer sun. My eyes are red and heavy with smoke even as my stomach grows green with envy and I find the first place with a patio available. A raspberry beer matches the dressing on my salad. The waitress likes my shirt, or so she tells me, and I have to double check what I’m wearing. A smirk at our mutual satisfaction over my attire and her desire to only conduct short, to-the-point interactions determining the level of my drink, needs and satisfaction keep her on the move and me where I want to be at, alone and in my head, watching teenage hipsters and their slightly overweight girlfriends showing off their hairstyles and bulging waistlines. Staring down punker rockstars bitching about last night’s fight or show or streetlife, pushing my envelope of comfort as they shout and piss off and fuck you passed my seat. Hippy retired women in muu muus walk hand in hand on their way to the rest of the day. I look myself over in the black window mirror of the Blue Moon bar that I’m drinking out front of and smile and my normalcy, laughing slyly to myself as I blend in easily with the insanity, calamity, exploding audacity of everything that is this place.
The cat is taking up center stage, feline and holding its own in the middle of a parking lot where regardless of expensive car being parked after outlandish SUV, all that the eye can focus on is its perked up ears and licking its own paw, perched and ready to purr. I keep walking, as beautiful as the sight is, having little affinity towards cats or befriending ones I’ll likely never see again. But she’s entranced, probably before she even saw the thing, and all of the motherly, kind womanliness that exists in her begins oozing up and out with cute little kitty sounds like “nee-yool nee-yool” and “t-chole t-chole” as her tongue clicks in her cheek, her throat lets out a little purr and she lowers herself to the height of the animal in an attempt to win over its favor. Several minutes later they’ve become close strangers, if not new friends, and as she pets the back of the cats head she discovers a lump. An aura of sadness changes the hue in the surrounding air and she sends her eyes darting around for a potential owner, fearing that the lump is a tumor and no one will realize it until it’s too late. I find an eyelash on my cheek all the while and call her over, rub it on her face, and then blow it off. “There, that’s good for one wish,” I tell her. She wishes that the cats owner will discover the lump within 24 hours.
A row of motorcycles, mostly older models &em; orange tanked Hondas from the early 80’s, not particularly thought of as vintage but particularly stylish in my own opinion &em; line the street. One in particular though stands out, a hybrid, really, not quite motorcycle but more than a scooter, for sure, it seems completely hand built, from the mishmash of rusting and shining silver parts that make up the engine to the dented up fender that doesn’t quite fit exactly to the seat made entirely of duct tape. It’s one of the finest pieces of machinery I’ve ever seen and quite possibly the stuff of legends, or at least their sidekicks.
The sunlight took a cue from the world’s finest box of orange crayons and mixed itself just appropriately for the first day of summer. Handpicked smoke flirted with the fresh air. The trees took the orange melting wax from the sky and let it pour perfectly lingering just before the drip over each and every one of their leaves. Faeries made of pollen whizzed through the sky around us. The sun silhouetted behind her head, she was staring off into the distance at whatever a wandering mind gets lost looking into and the trees rustled mildly but didn’t dare make a sound to save her personal silence. The sunset happening behind her hair helped to pull the auburn dustiness of everything together, a still waterfall of patient perfect strands just hovering, taking in the moments between space and her dress, aptly named for the sun that it shared colors with today, dripping down over her and falling just short of a few inches above her knee, both of which popped their bending, smiling, swaying songs out slightly above bright orange socks, shocking the timid pavement awake even as it had just taken a nap to begin its summer vacation. She softened the blow with tall, leathery and all too worn in boots, as though the cow had taken a few hits in its day before coming to make the moccasins that would travel her through the seasons. In all of it, never has a blend of colors in a woman’s body and the atmosphere ever been more perfect.
The train came around the corner without a whistle. A single engine painted with stickers claiming “IMPEACH” and “One Earth, One Chance” and similar to-the-points pulled over a dozen or more cars, each holding two plates, each plate holding two or three pieces of sushi, or perhaps a seaweed salad or bit of desert. Patrons packed in the bar and were able to take whichever dishes looked most appealing. Cream cheese and avocado rolls filling in the spaces between salmon sushi or tuna sushi or whatever other treats the chefs had come up with. Stomachs filled, testing sips of water as though they might make just a little more space for the next dish, minds flickered between wanting to ask for the check and try out a few more samples. The evening progressed, the cash register rang its bell, and eventually the day would perspire.