I called my best friend JM, The One Man Party, roughly a month ago to catch up. He had moved to Portland a little over an year ago for a job. Apparently the job is stressful, Portland rains all the time, and he hasn’t made too many good close friends since the move. It’s hard to make new friends when you’ve got twenty years old friends, like us. JM invited me up to visit him for his birthday in late October. I declined. He was coming back to Austin during the holidays, so I would see him then. I gave him a half hearted commitment to visit during the spring, maybe. I hung up the phone, and that was that, or so I thought.
I can’t remember exactly how I decided this, but I think a couple of days after I spoke to JM, I texted his wife BM asking her if they would be in Portland a few days before and after JM’s birthday. She said they would, and I told her that I would fly up to Portland for JM’s birthday, but not to tell him about it. I had decided on a surprise birthday visit.
I figured while I am in Portland, I might as well visit the Pacific NW. I contacted my friend OC, asking her if she wanted to travel through PNW with me. She had visited me in Austin back in the summer, and urged me to visit her in LA. PNW isn’t LA, but it’s not too far from her. She checked her schedule, and found some days, and we set our plans for a short trip. Perfect!
Every trip for me starts with an elevator ride. My dad was nice enough to pick me up and take me to the airport. I had a tough time deciding between a regular luggage or a backpack, and at the end the luggage won out. We’ll see if that turns out to be the right choice later…
My flight leaves, 15 minutes late. No problem, I’ve got a long 2 hour layover in Denver.
You see that little silver button? You know, the one you push to recline your seat. You see how it’s deeply recessed on this row of seats? Yeah, it’s because I got assigned to the very last row and none of the seats recline so it’s just a faux button. Bastards! At least I had the whole row to myself…
I struggled to pick a book to read for this trip. Then, the day before I leave town, a package arrived in the mail and it was this. I had ordered this book without really thinking of it for any purpose, but this works out perfectly. A travel book for traveling.
My flight was delayed for 30 minutes, then I was on my way. Bumpy plane ride. I don’t like flying.
I turned on my phone and got a whole string of texts from BM, who was supposed to pick me up from the airport. She said that she was running late. That turned out well because of my delayed flight.
BM told me that she had dropped off JM at a nearby Target to do some “shopping”. She told him that she was going somewhere else to pick up a surprise present for him. While in the car, I started texting JM. I sent him a photo of me drinking a Shiner Blonde in my condo – this is how our communication went.
Me: I am drinking this one for your dirty 30 tonight. Only because you can’t get Shiner Blonde in your cold rainy place.
JM: Mmmm thanks dude. Wish I were there drinking one with you.
Me: Yeah…I hope you drink it up tonight. I am sad and sorry to miss the milestone bday one where you turn the odometer :-(. You gonna get shit faced tonight? Or gonna do that tomorrow?
JM: Tomorrow. I am on call tonight :-(.
Me: Lame. I’ll drink another one for you tomorrow. Also some Soco 100 shots.
JM: Haha oh man its been so long since I’ve had Soco 100…Enjoy the remainder of your 20s, my friend.
He has no fucking clue I am in Portland. This surprise will be awesome.
BM called JM on the phone and asked him which section he was in. Electronics he said. I let BM walk ahead and me and I dodged and hid between all the rows of merchandise.
The three pictures from above are the three best pictures that I’ll get on this trip, and that is perfectly OK.
Slowly, it starts to make sense for JM. Now he understands why they drove so far away to the Target by the airport late at night just so he could get toilet paper and beer and other frivolous things. Now he understands why BM pushed him so hard to take the Friday of his birthday(tomorrow) off from work.
We rode back in the car, and laughed about it. JM is still in disbelief. It was great. I am so glad that everything worked out and the surprise went flawlessly. We are still laughing and talking about it today, a day later. I think we’ll be laughing at this one for as long as we live.
Went back to drop off my luggage at the house and went back out for dinner. JM’s birthday is actually tomorrow, but we’ll be doing the first part of celebration tonight when that clock ticks past twelve.
First things first, feed the stomach. My 3/5 of a meal Salt Lick and my mediocre McD left me hungry. Dinner here at Montage, supposed to have awesome food. The restaurant is located in the middle of a bunch of seemingly industrial and run down buildings. There is nothing else around.
Caught up on life during dinner. Some of the best things in life are the things that cannot be told by photos. Some of the best things in life are the things that cannot be told by the transcriptions of the conversation. It was a special dinner for me, to be with my best friends halfway across the country. No photos or words could convey the bliss I felt.
A day I’ll always remember with fondness.
To be continued at Portland Day 2.