I have a favorite cities list, and all the cities on it are places I've actually been to.
Portland has always been on my other list, the favorite-cities-that-I-haven't-actually-been-to list.
Now I can move Portland from one list to the other, just as I suspected I would do someday.
Despite being slow and unwieldy and nearing two of the biggest deadlines of my life, I accepted the opportunity to teach at CKC-Portland this past weekend. After a somewhat harrowing drive to Sacramento (I was hit by a rock that I could have sworn sounded like a bullet from an overpass that cracked the windshield loudly and caused me to make one of my infamous startle noises, which Matt later confirmed might have been a bullet for the damage it did, and maybe it was—it was just outside of Stockton, after all, though I certainly don't mean any offense to all the law-abiding citizens of Stockton, just the law-breaking ones) and an uneventful flight from Sacramento to Portland, I met up with my old friend Adam for dinner at Old Town Pizza, an evening walking tour of the city, an hour at Powell's, and dessert at Papa Haydn.
I first met Adam in Montana eleven years ago when he was a tiny little freshman who didn't speak out loud much, and now he is grown up and graduated from college and working for Portland State and planning out grad school options and talks plenty. I have to say, staying in touch with former students who later become friends is one of the greatest hidden benefits of teaching that I didn't realize existed when I first started out as a high school teacher. It's even more fun to meet up when they know such good places to eat and interesting little facts about the city : )
Here are nine words to sum up my experience at Powell's:
I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
And a few more:
I think I would like to live there, even if it means I have to sneak into the bathroom every night and hide before closing.
It's a good thing Adam gave me a time limit because I managed to spend quite a bit of money willy-nilly. I can't imagine if I had been given a day. Or even two hours.
Everyone got a prize:
for Matt, Sky Scorpions (the heaviest rare book I have ever heaved around in a rolling suitcase)
for Maddie, Little House on the Prairie (we're skipping Farmer Boy right now, because it's all about Laura for her)
for Gracie, Diary of a Wombat (Gracie has a small wombat collection)
for... ah! You thought I was going to tell a name! Woody Guthrie's New Baby Train
and for me, two books—This I Believe and The Enlightened Bracketologist—plus some cards. Can't pass up cards.
Between Friday and Saturday I taught eight classes, all designed by the talented Amy Williams and Wendy Smedley. Not having taught at a convention before, I didn't really know what to expect; I had no idea that there would be between 40-70 people per class! Each class came with two helpful volunteers (now THAT would have been helpful in a high school classroom) and I met some very talented, very enthusiastic women from all over the northwest plus a few from farther away—one of the door prizes was up for grabs between two women who had flown in from northern Virginia (!) to attend. It is a pretty amazing experience to be around hundreds of other people who share the same love for scrapbooking. So amazing, in fact, that by 7:45 pm on Friday night I was asleep for the night in my hotel room, awakened only when my friend Shannon called me to make sure I wasn't dead in a ditch somewhere, since I was supposed to do some hanging out after I had changed my clothes and dropped off my bags. All that amazing enthusiasm did me in, and after I assured her I was OK and apologized for my disappearance, I happily went back to sleep until 8:00 am Saturday morning. If you do the math, that's twelve hours of sleeping, approximately. In a very comfortable bed, I might add.
Saturday flew by and by the end of the day I was understandably tired but not comatose. That made riding the friendly public transit system in Portland to the airport even easier, the being conscious part. I never once got a chance to use my new polka-dotted umbrella that Maddie picked out for me the day before I left (we are still a family utterly unprepared for rain), despite the fact that it definitely rained while I was there. I'll get a chance to use it one day, though, because I have every intention of going back to Portland—next time with my camera. I made the difficult decision to take my first trip ever without a camera, and while it was painful not to have it there, I was admittedly glad not to have another bag to carry around. But there are definitely bridges and rivers and buildings and people to photograph there. One of these days.
I had the luxury front row seat all to myself on the airline ride home (not sure anyone noticed that they put a pregnant lady in the exit row, but for an hour and 20 minute flight I hedged my bets that we wouldn't crash and kept my mouth shut). While I wouldn't necessarily recommend landing at 10:30 pm at an airport an hour and a half away from one's home on the night of a time change, it was a good flight for the right price. I actually made it home a little faster than that, probably because I might have been speeding a bit through Stockton so as not to be dilly-dallying there on a Saturday night. I should mention here that my opinions about Stockton have been formed through reading our local newspaper, The Record—a.k.a. 101 Daily Reasons To Be Glad You Don't Live In Stockton. I'm sure it's really quite a, er, lovely place. Dave Brubeck is from there, after all.
Sunday morning alarm clocks went off like, well, clockwork; both the one that comes downstairs by herself and curls up with you while simultaneously poking you to get up and feed her and the one who hollers at the top of her lungs from upstairs that she is AWAKE, MAMA, AWAKE. It is always good to be home.