Sunday, January 26, 2014

More Than I Deserve

It's been a lovely weekend so far.  I'm currently sitting in a comfortable booth at the T&P, waiting for the burn to die away in my lips and tongue, so I can think about ordering something sweet to eat.  I had a few little soft tacos and the Sriracha I sprinkled on didn't affect me until after they were gone.  I'm drinking clean, crisp, sweet and orchard-y apple cider -- so delicious -- and watching people stroll by, all of them squinting in the excessively brilliant sun.  Yesterday and today were both very, very bright.

(The Pogues!  How long has it been since I've heard the Pogues, when I wasn't playing them?)

Across the street, the usual crowd is standing outside Besaw's -- a perfect example, if any were needed, of the public's bovine natures.  Probably half of them have never been there before, but they've heard the name for so long, and the cachet of being one of NW Portland's oldest restaurants has brought them driving in from Gresham and Bethany and Fariview.

And when I think back to the first time I ate at Besaw's --twenty years ago -- and the only customers were some aged, deeply wrinkled little men drinking at the bar, and the cook was a heavily tattooed, skinny, black- haired man with track marks -- makes me shake my head!

Been watching "Fringe" all over again -- just finished the third season before I came over here -- and last night I went to bed at about ten-thirty,  feeling pleased that I hadn't allowed the seduction of that show to keep me up to any ridiculous time.  Woke up at about six, and was thinking about what the plan was for today, and it suddenly hit me like an ice-cold water balloon --I had left my car in the library parking lot overnight!  It was only allowed to be there until library closing, which on Saturday night is six pm!  So it had been there for twelve unauthorized hours, and this was in NW Portland, where not only is parking at a premium, but the people are, as a generalized whole, self-righteous and much given to reporting people parked somewhere they ought not to be.  I've seen that little meter-maid car out tooling around before dawn!  I threw my coat on over my pajamas, and without even wiping my eyes or straightening my slept-on hair, I rushed over there.  As I rounded the last corner, my relief at seeing the familiar blue lines of Beauty the Buick almost made me gasp aloud.

I also made it back to my apartment without running into anybody, or seeing a single soul, except for the driver of a car.  Which is more than I deserve!  Whew!

Friday, January 10, 2014

Michael Orville Estes

I was just reminiscing about Prairie people, specifically from my freshman year – the friends I made just as a result of being in the same place they were.  Not because they were friends of some other friend, or sister, or roommate.  Not because they wanted to date me, or Ruthie, or Roseanna, or Kelly. 

That was the best year of the three years I was there – there was no pressure.   I felt protected by my older sister’s presence, even though we shared no classes and rarely ate meals at the same time.   I wonder, now, if that was the cause of my terrible, mind-losing insomnia, my junior year – pressure from others, instead of from the school itself.  I was trying to be too many things to too many people – and at the same time trying to hide the person I was to person A, from person B, since I knew they would not approve.  What a coward I was!  Afraid of everything, and resenting others for having to be their version of me, to them.

Anyway – Shannah (my very first Prairie friend) had sent me an e-mail with pictures attached – one of which was of me and Mike Estes on the beach – my skirt is wet, and Mike is half buried in sand – and I paused and gave some time to thinking about Mike.  He was a really good guy – I had no fault to find with him, save that he did not light my fire.  And yet I had no idea how to behave towards him, to let him know that I did not “like” him.  I was just as friendly as was allowed, and when he wrote me letters – awkward, staggering letters at about a fourth grade level – I responded with real letters and candy and baked goods sent to him in boot camp – he brought me a stuffed fox and I named it Foxibus and kept it on my bed for years – I’m afraid I behaved just like a conservative, small-town Christian girl who intended to marry someone would have behaved.  But I did not know how else to be.  And no one ever mentioned it to me, no one found any fault with my behavior,  no one said  anything about it to me – I’m sure my parents thought I might, in fact, marry him, but we never mentioned it to one another.

So, I was thinking that I really owed the poor guy an apology for my ignorance and my unintentional leading him on.  I mean, he made the trip from Spokane down to Cannon Beach just to see me for an afternoon.  (I wouldn’t let him put his arm around me on that occasion, so perhaps that told him I wasn’t interested…?  but probably not.)

So I began looking for him, first on Facebook, (my goodness, hundreds of Mike Esteses! But none of them that blonde, square-faced young man with the wide space between his front teeth) and then on Google.   And on the first page of my search for Mike Estes – Army -- Washington, I got this headline:  Sheriff's Deputy killed in the line of duty.

Oh, my god.  And it was him.  Michael Orville Estes.  At age 43, so only about five years ago.  Responding to a 911 call, his car was broadsided by a semi-truck.  The only Walla Walla sheriff’s deputy to be killed in the line of duty.  Merciful heavens.


I mean, really dead.  As in dead.

Is he the first one of my Prairie friends to die?  I will have to ponder that for a bit, but I think he really might be.  Marshall got brain cancer, but he recovered.  Daniel was in a car accident, but he is more or less okay.  Dave survived malaria.    I had a brain hemorrhage, but here I still am.  Mike Estes.  First death.  Wow.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Opting for the Auto

Well, it's a lovely morning, in that good old Pacific Northwest way -- overcast sky, still a deep purply blue, fresh dampness to the air, though no rain falling, wet pavements shining gold and lavender in the reflected lights.  When I stepped out my door this morning, the familiarity of this lifted my soul with a physical lift that I could feel in my chest.  Ahh, home!

Which is probably why I wasn't annoyed or dismayed to realize, just as I rounded the corner, that I had forgotten to get my new pack of bus tickets the previous night.  I had gotten off the bus, thinking, "Stop at the library, then at Food Front, then home,"  (isn't it lovely to live so closely with one's need-suppliers?  Both of these things between my bus stop and my door!)  and I did make the library stop.  But when I came out, I was passing St. Honore's bakery, and my eye and appetite were caught.  I went in and bought a blueberry tart (note to self: don't buy that again) and a small bag of chouquettes, which I ate with great satisfaction -- and passed merrily by Food Front, without it tickling the smallest response in me.

But, as I say, I wasn't even remotely distressed by this, merely pondering whether I should ride the bus and pay cash, and then try to get some more cash somewhere to make the trip home, or simply drive.  And I opted for the auto.