the tap of a phone
gets you onto the light rail
When I was living in New York and having a bad NYC day/month/year as periodically happens, Portland is where I would threaten to move. Dreams of going “where young people go to retire,” etc. Instead I landed a great opportunity a couple hundred miles north in Seattle in 2014, and spent over three years working at the 5th Avenue Theatre. I was looking forward to getting to finally spend a few weeks in my would-be place of youthful retirement on this tour, having only made it to Portland once for a weekend right after I moved to Seattle.
The tour opened (conveniently for me) in Seattle and next stop was Portland. My college bestie, Erin, lives in Seattle and was able to take the travel Monday off and drive me down to Portland, where I’d be staying with my friends Christi and Grayson and their dog Rio for the three weeks we were there. Friends, check; kitchen, check; furry pal, check — an easy, gradual transition to really being on the road.
My first visceral feeling that “I’m really on tour now!” came when we stopped for donuts in Tacoma. I’m not a great gift-giver — birthdays and holidays stress me out — but the one git-giving tradition I get into is the Japanese one of bringing omiyage to friends and hosts when traveling. My mole in New York (my dear friend Kurt, Christi’s brother) had told me some of Chrsiti & Grayson’s favorite treats, including that Grayson is coocoo for donuts. I’d meant to swing by a spot in my neighborhood in Seattle, but in the chaos of packing up my life and saying “hasta!” to my cat et al, we were already several miles south on I-5 when I remembered.
Luckily Erin is an attorney who basically spends her life between car and courtroom advocating for families all over western Washington. “Erin, is there a great donut shop anywhere between here and Portland? But still in Washington, not in Portland, because that would be bad omiyage form.”
Erin took us to Legendary Doughnuts in Tacoma, where after being paralyzed by the number of options (sizes, flavors of donuts!), I ended up getting one of each flavor of doughnut balls for Grayson and same for the Hamilton band, and a treat for the road for Erin & me (Erin chose the “Conan the Bavarian”). They were a hit!
Top 5 Favorite Portland Places/Experiences
- the wall of sound from 3,000 people cheering the show at Keller auditorium was incredible!
- Wildfang - discovered when our dance supervisor Kourtni was wearing a really cool button down shirt from them and I gave her a compliment. Portland-based, “female founded, women run” - just expanded to SoHo and soon to LA, but I feel like a hipster because I bought a blazer and several other things there before they had stores anywhere but Portland. I narrowly escaped with most of my bank account. Love what they stand for and support, and have bought some gifts there since.
3. Thriving tech industry notwithstanding, Portland is a beautiful city with lots of nature, and we were lucky enough to be there during cherry blossom time. Loved the view of the cherry trees on the waterfront as rode to work, as well as the big tree out front of the house where I was staying.
4. When my personal keyboard showed up with two broken keys, Inner Sound in Clackamas repaired it overnight, and advised me how better to pack it, and what to look for in purchasing a new one should the key weights/suspension simply not be able to cope with the bumps of travel (so far so good).
5. One thing I love about touring is getting to meet up with friends and acquaintances I mightn’t otherwise see. In addition to getting to spend some time with Christi and Grayson, I got to meet up with my sound designer friend Justin, who popped down from Seattle where he was doing a show, and my new friend Flint, another pianist-conductor I’ve been hearing about for years who happened to be in town and found me by the pit when he came to the show. Yay new friends! Q Restaurant and Bar provided great food and drink for hanging out and catching up with each of them (…admittedly I’d have gone back alone had I not had a friend to take). Thanks Flint for finding me and introducing me to that delicious place!
I actually got sick in Portland, so spent a disproportionate amount of time huddled in the lovely basement space sleeping/watching Star Trek: Voyager. But it was nice to be huddled in a home with friends and not in a hotel. Left much to explore in Portland: my visit to Powell’s City of Books was perfunctory (just long enough to grab The Left Hand of Darkness and The Authenticity Experiment, and Cannon Beach will have to remain on the “someday wanna go” list. Til next time, Portland!