Friendly Reunion: My Week in Portland, Oregon
A year ago I gave up the chance to travel to Arezzo, Italy. It had been a part of the big college plan: work my butt off as an intern during the breaks after freshman and sophomore year, then take a once in a lifetime journey abroad before my final semesters. I had my passport, brushed up on my Italian, and started filling out the application for the study abroad program.
But then the terrorist attacks happened in Paris. As the aftermath of the massacre played out, I immediately abandoned my application and put away my passport. As much as I wanted to venture abroad, I didn’t want to get any closer to the conflict unfolding in the eastern world. It was a tough decision, and one that I’ve honestly started to regret. Holding off on the visit to Italy left a vacant spot in my summer break. So in its place I decided to embark on a personal, more small-scale adventure. It wasn’t a trip to somewhere new, but rather it was a return to someplace familiar.
Following a draining two and a half hour flight from Arizona to Oregon, I was reunited with one of my best friends. In truth, she is the best friend, that special someone I’d grown up with and whose imaginative energy and playful oddness helped give my childhood a five-star rating. Our friendship seemed to bloom out of nowhere. We first met in first grade, but I can’t remember how we met exactly. According to her, we’d gotten into a pretty intense fist-fight on the playground due our both wanting the attention of a mutual friend. Again, I have no idea if this even happened. All I remember is that quickly after we bonded over a shared love of Top 40 radio hits, Disney movies, and, as I recently discovered, a general disinterest in socializing.
But life happened soon enough, and we were forced to go our separate ways in 2007. My mother and I settled in Norman, Oklahoma, while Candace and her family moved to southern Oregon. Thus began a nine-year long-distance friendship. Although we were only states apart, it felt like we lived on opposite ends of the Earth. It was hard to adjust. Due to a mutual hatred of talking on the phone, we resorted to only exchanging text messages. I’d promised to talk with her twice a week, but it eventually turned into talking once every couple of weeks. In the meantime we developed different lives. There were band camps, choir clubs, school, work, falling in love, dealings with loneliness. We followed each other on social media, but I felt that wasn’t enough. I was scared that our connection was fading.
That’s why this trip meant so much to me. As soon as met up with her and her mother, I felt like I’d taken a step back into the past. Both of us had changed so much and yet it felt like old times, singing aloud to old songs on the radio and jokingly stuffing our faces with junk food. We discussed the past as well as the future, and caught each other up on the lives of family members and the joys and challenges we’d faced in the past nine years. I’d told her about a few new friends I’d made, and she introduced me to her father and her fiancé.
She and I went mall-hopping about three or four times, which was interesting seeing how I usually go to the mall once every couple of months. We usually went into the same shops such as Rue 21, Charlotte Russe, and Sephora. We stopped by Bath & Body Works and burned out a few brain cells from smelling each and every soap and body spray in the store. Tuesday was partially cloudy, but it got brighter and clearer as the day wore on. We spent hours roaming the local zoo, and thankfully, for the first time in years, I got face-to-face with lions, crocodiles, polar bears, and bears.
Wednesday was a lazy day. We slept in late-technically later since we usually didn’t get our butts out of bed until eleven- then headed over to the lake. We chilled by the shore and watched members of the Nation Guard, who were probably bored and had some down time, race each other on watercrafts. Candace taught me how to skip rocks (I nearly threw out my shoulder in the process) and afterword we discussed random topics like college, early pregnancy, and naive misconceptions of marriage. Candace had white bread stashed in the back of her car, so we brought it out and fed a horde of ornery geese and ducks. There was an especially dramatic goose I named King Louie. Poor guy was trying so desperately to be the alpha male, getting as close as possible to get my attention, whining and honking constantly, and giving another goose a titty-twister when he snatched King Louie’s piece of bread.
Thursday was more disappointing. As suckers for science, we visited the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The museum had three main exhibits- health science, industrial science, and astronomy. Each exhibit included fun activities and interesting information, but the issue was that it took us only an hour to get through the whole museum. General admission was $14.00 ($15 for Candace because she also paid for parking), and with just that you were only allowed to see about a third of the museum. It was disappointing to say the least. So after that we treated ourselves to chicken fries from Burger King, and then dropped by an popular bakery called Voodoo Donuts. I got my usual favorite sweets, one Cookies’n Cream and the other cream-filled. Candace, on the other hand, had two unique picks. One was topped with maple icing and a slice of bacon (which is actually pretty good); the other was called the Cock’n Balls. It had chocolate frosting and a very naughty shape. And yes, it was cream-filled.
On Friday night me, Candace, and her fiancé, Troy, walked around downtown Portland. The big city looked gorgeous at night, with the lights from the small glass windows of skyscrapers resembling twinkling lights. Since Oregon has no humidity (a blessing compared to Oklahoma), the summer days felt like spring. Thus the spring nights felt even cooler, and as we weaved in and out of several stores and strolled past candy shops and homeless drifters, I was practically freezing. Later that night, sometime after we’d grabbed some drinks and a bite to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings, we passed what looked like the scene of murder. There was a guard positioned in front of a closed Macy’s store who advised people to avoid stepping into the blood. Candace and Troy insisted that someone must have had an explosive nosebleed, but I’m still certain that someone got stabbed.
My week in Portland, Oregon passed by as quickly as a flash of lightning. It literally felt like each time I’d blink, a new day would begin. Although I was only in Oregon for a short time, it was a fun and uplifting experience, clearly something that I should’ve done a while ago. I believe my friendship with my childhood Bestie has been rejuvenated. We still have our own different lives to live. While we might not message each other every single weekend or don’t always like each other’s Facebook posts, I know that our connection still thrives. The connection we’d made we were children never peaked. Instead, it’s matured with us and has managed to stay strong after all these years.