Saturday, July 14, 2012

Am I still in Portland?

Why did I move to this city? Because crazy shit happens to me here. Simple as that. Today, after heading over to Portland Button Works to create a card for my zine crush (it's no secret who it is-- definitely Thomas Moniz of Rad Dad. He's smart, well-spoken, and he's sooo sexy in person), I was feeling pretty hungry. The heat and my rabid need to bike EVERYWHERE had finally gotten to me. I biked over the Steele Bridge and decided to fart around Northwest Portland to find a place to eat. Northwest Portland is uber-gentrified, which usually equates to overly pricey though nice food and pretentious up-and-ups. But the food is friggin' fantastic, I'll give 'em that! As I was tooling around, I found an Italian restaurant. I checked the menu and even though it met my expectations on price, I found a few affordable options and I liked that the food was the lighter, lesser-known, coastal Italian food. Perfect for a hot, sweaty day. This lunch started out as normal as any lunch on my own-- Caprese Salad, Prosecco (I swear I would replace champagne for water if I could), and reading Stolen Sharpie Revolution. Slowly at first, but then in a flurry, a gaggle of sweaty Italian men sporting soccer shorts flitted into the restaurant. The restaurant was instantaneously flooded with lilting, spirited Italian heckling. Tables jostled as they were shoved together. A man enthusiastically hollered "Vino? Vino? Qualcuno vuole il vino?" to his buddies, slowly coaxing them to drink with him. And more people kept arriving. "Mama Mia! Mama Mia! Vieni! Vieni!!" More tables crammed together, more kissing, more languages-- Italian, Spanish, English. In my corner of the restaurant, I gleefully observed the merry chaos. And then? I was swallowed by it. "Come! Come! Join us! You're hair is beautiful. What's your name? I'm Adriano." "Miercos." "That's Camillo and that's Donato." "Some of us are Italian, some Spanish. Like him. That guy's Spanish. I forgot his name. Non è importante. We all play soccer together at a park in Southeast Portland. Then, we come here to eat and drink. We know the owner. Here he is. This is __________." (At one point, the owner was having such a jolly time, he lost track of his wine and that he was actually cooking the food.) "What are you reading?" "Stolen Sharpie Revolution. It's a zine about how to make a zine?" "What's a zine?" "Che cos'è una zine? Cosa sta parlando?" (What's a zine? What's she talking about?) "I'm Anita. Miercos, a zine is_____________________________________________________." "Here, Carly, try this food. Hey! You need wine! Camillo! Pass us the wine! Fretta, fretta! She has no wine." and more "___________________________________________________________." Chaos. I was back on the beaches of Lido di Jesolo again, listening to the bustle of Italians dining, celebrating (always celebrating), and loving life. We shared our food and our drinks and our conversations fluidly. I floated through multiple conversations and was even fortunate enough to have moments where I wasn't engaged in a conversation at all. Those were my favorite moments, because I could just watch the Italian magic happen. They even invited the Bosnian waitress to sit with them when the restaurant was slow. Eventually, I had to go to the bathroom. On my way back, our waitress smiled at me and said "I know. They're like a hurricane." I just smiled. A hurricane. Only much more extraordinary to me. It was the most beautiful hurricane I'd ever known. I had to leave early, but even my departure was perfect. I have a tendency with beautiful moments like these to ruin them by trying to extend them or resume them at a later time. I can only attribute that to the shy-girl in me. When I meet people who immediately put me at ease, I want to cling to it. Today, I just said goodbye when it was time for me to go. Sometimes moments are only perfect, and beautiful, and extraordinary when they are encapsulated by reality-- hemmed in by the mundane.

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