There was a brisk coldness in the air. The sort of cold that makes you glad to have a jacket, but not so strong as to make you shiver.
My best friends boarded The MAX at the nearby station to ride to the other side of the river. My destination was closer and I didn’t have enough time to buy a ticket before the MAX was going to leave, so I had elected to walk.
“Just text me when you’re done and we’ll meet up to head back,” I said.
And so I walked into this city of calm and peacefulness, alone for the first time since we began our trip. I watched my surroundings over the light from my iPhone screen. Stop one: a Goodwill – I want to see what thrifting is like in this incredible, hipster, indie town. I need to turn left. Then right, then go forward a few blocks.
My feet carry me, ever forward. I do not have to worry about driving, or gas, or merging or turn signals. I do not have to worry about “is there a sidewalk here, or do I need to cross?” because sidewalks are everywhere.
Perhaps Sperry Top-Siders were not the best selection of footwear for this trip. I was regularly committing the apparently cardinal sin of wearing socks with my Sperry’s. Oh well. Better that than cold feet. Literal cold feet, not cowardice, because I do not think I could feel cowardice here.
The Goodwill is small, and magnificent. Every inch of space is covered with every kind of thing you can imagine at a thrift store, ranging from ugly sweaters to Christmas ornaments and kitchen utensils. The crowd in this store is broad – young hipsters looking for a come-up and folk who look homeless, looking for a new jacket for the right price.
Satisfied with the opportunity thrift-ing brings in this city, I head to my next destination – a local coffee shop, recommended to me by some friends and an author I admire, whom I tweeted the day before.
I walk the Alphabet District, admiring that I’ve quickly caught on to the name of at least one of the neighborhoods. I like the Alphabet, because it’s easy to navigate. What’s could be better than streets that are named alphabetically, south to north, and numerically, east to west?
I sit down at Stumptown coffee and a bar-like seat in front of a window and watch the world as I sip my mocha and write in my notebook. A mocha is a beverage of commitment, I think. If I plan on sitting and staying somewhere, I will order a mocha. Most often, this is when I’m writing. Occasionally, I will order one when sitting to coffee with a friend. My mocha has a leaf patterned into it. This must be the easiest mocha-design, because it is so common.
I listen to the hipsters next to me. Some stay, some go. Those who left return a few minutes later. Men here have beards. Some are nicely manicured. Some are left to grow like the wild. I wonder if I would grow a beard if I got to live here. I want to live here. I write in my notebook, sharing a brief collection of thoughts and ideas. I browse the internet on my iPhone. Outside, a few flakes of snow fall lazily. I sip my my mocha. It is almost gone. So is the last hour.
A twin texts me. They have finished their parkour-ing – it is very cold. I tell them where I am, and as they describe where they are, I realize the numbered streets are also on the other side of the river, in the opposite direction (west to east).
I get a cup of coffee from the dispenser on the counter. “How much is it?” I ask the man behind the counter. He is one of the few clean-shaved men I have seen in this city. He smiles. “Just enjoy it, and the new year,” he says. At this time, I did not know how this amazing day would turn into an amazing night. I could never expect that. I smile back and thank him profusely.
As I step outside and begin to walk back, the warm three-quarters cup of coffee keeps my hands warm. The twins are on the train, and I walk. I arrive at our destination first. We joke about it, and I am glad to be back with my friends, who I missed greatly in our three-ish hours apart.
After a phone-charge, the year starts to come to come to a close, as the night begins.