When I think of the four of us being together I can’t forget the image of us saying goodbye to each other in August 1999 on a blistering hot day on the streets of Rome after spending an idyllic month in the Tuscan town of Siena and its surrounding hills painting watercolors. We had capped our month in Siena off with a weeklong trip to the coastal town of Monterosso in Cinque Terre and then to Rome to see the Villa Lante. In Rome we were parting ways, Ivy was heading to Boston, Catriona was meeting up with Sam on Sardinia, Tara was heading south to Naples, and I was heading north to France.
The scene of our most recent reunion was a typical spring-like sunny and misty weekend in Portland where we ate dinner overlooking the city with a view of Mt. Hood and and watched an unusually tempestuous storm roll in. Ivy thought for sure it would just sprinkle a bit and pass by in time for a little jaunt to the nearby rose gardens, but the storm had a slightly different idea and unleashed more rain, thunder and lightning than I ever remember seeing in Portland.
At the end our weekend – after we had prowled around Portland’s east side – we realized we had the most fun when we were just hanging out and catching up. That was what it was all about.
Lisa, Mari, Karin, Tricia and I had a girls’ weekend at Sunriver in mid-May and I got to relive some wonderful summer memories from growing up in Oregon in the 1970s.
My family used to spend a week in the volcanic desert community every summer around the 4th of July fishing, golfing, swimming and biking. We always rented a house right on the golf course which my brother and I loved ’cause we could play on the greens after dark. But during the days we were either biking to the nature center, swimming pool, or stables. So I packed up my bike, tennis racket, and golf clubs ’cause even though it was going to reach the high 90s I wasn’t going to stop until I did a little of everything.
I didn’t get to everything… I’d need a week to do that, but I did bike nearly every path in the place by the time we left on Sunday. And around every corner I ran into wonderful and quintessentially Oregon memories.
Me holding Lucky just before the frog jumping contest at the Fireman’s Picnic in 1979.
Erik and I biking around Sunriver in 1978.
Erik and I watching Dad get ready to tee off in 1978.
Erik in his Portland Trailblazers NBA Champions shirt and me in my “old school” Nikes. It doesn’t get more Oregon in the 1970s than that!
I felt like a moth drawn to the flame on Friday as the weekend approached, as the hours and minutes evaporated and I was that much closer to leaving the office and getting on the road. I was driving east through the Gorge and then south over the hills to Dant. It would be my first work weekend in a decade – the weekend where all the homeowners come together for a weekend to fix fences, burn debris, and repair miscellaneous things that have gone awry. It may sound boring, but its rare and so special to have everyone at Dant. Plus things had changed, houses had been passed down to other family members and so there were a lot of new faces. All of that brought a great energy to an already amazing place.
Lee and I drove over together, talking and listening to Oprah and Eckhart Tolle’s podcast about his new book, A New Earth. The sun was setting and long shadows were casting as we drove through the hills, down the gravel road, and alongside the Deschutes River to the gate and then the dock. That was the just the beginning of a wonderful weekend. Digging in the garden, playing with the boys, cowboys in black, cocktails at the barbeque, strawberry rhubarb pie, staying warm by the fire, an early morning hike followed by yoga overlooking the river.
I’m savoring the bliss running over from the weekend and resisting how its beginning to fade into the week. Breathe!
Portland has changed a lot during my lifetime. My guess is that everyone can say that about their hometown.
Being back I turn corners and drive down streets with vague visual recollections of what these places used to look like. Many times I find myself excited about the changes that have come, a few times I miss something that is gone or changed, but most often I’m touched with a bit of melancholy because I can’t quite remember how all the pieces of a particular place fit together.
That is definitely true for Quality Pie, a 50s style diner where I spent many late nights during high school drinking coffee with cream and eating french fries with ranch dressing. It sounds disgusting now, but the diner was a little slice of heaven. I can’t describe why QP was so special, except that as a teenager when we’re all trying to find our place in the world, this was a place where people from every corner of the city came together.
QP was the lone hold out from the 50s on NW 23rd, a street being chi-chi-fied even a decade ago when I was still living here. So when property values went up places like QP came down. I honestly can’t remember exactly which cross street QP straddled, but I’ll never forget what the pale yellow sign looked like – lightly lit and hovering above the corner diner.
All of these memories came flooding back a week ago when I was walking through the Wieden & Kennedy building, turned the corner and saw the old QP sign serving as a wall in their offices. I stammered to try to explain why I was so excited to my friends who just looked at me with bewilderment. But it was great to see a bit of old Portland in midst of the new.