Yesterday’s lunch came from a food cart that makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Gourmet peanut butter and jelly. Sandwiches like the Trypto-fantastic, which reminds one of a creation one would make after thanksgiving day – turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce between peanut butter and jelly – or the Sun-Up, which featured bananas, granola and apple butter between the tradition ingredients of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Then there was the one I selected – the Hot Hood, stuffed with bacon and jalapeño peppers – a spicy reminder that sometimes we must throw caution to the wind.
“So how’d you get started? ” I asked the man behind the counter as we waited for our sandwiches.
He told me a story about how he used to wear a suit to work every day and work at a business in Las Vegas. He heard a story about a man making simple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on a grill. Him and his business partner decided to move out to Portland.
Three years later, he has a fantastic beard and a thriving business, getting ready to expand to a full sized food cart in a major pod – a pod being a grouping of food carts in a parking lot.
Through the day I considered this brief story, as we tried ice cream from a place called “salt and straw” (where I ordered Pear and Bleu Cheese ice cream, because why not?), as we viewed Mt. Hood from multiple angles and drove or walked through the city. The audacity of this man was rewarded – his hard work brought him some level of notoriety because he changed the world around him.
This story is juxtaposed with the cultural knowledge that many people in Portland have stories about how they happened upon this beautiful, albeit gloomy-on-appearances city. If you look past the gloomy appearances you see a very calm, relaxed and polite city. It has the west coast sense of “carry on and everything will be okay,” and “no matter who you are, we love you.” It’s this set of sensibilities that I absolutely adore about the west coast. It’s this sense that bonds our coastline, from Seattle down to San. Diego. In some way, we are all relaxed,with calm determination and hope.
Perhaps this determination and hope comes from our collective ancestors, who relatively recently had to work for all that they had in a strange land.
Whatever it is, I love it. Amidst long walks, conversations about how Twitter makes published authors and movie stars accessible to the average person and the viewing of stunning scenery, I thought about how great it is to be alive and how much I love the opportunities I have.