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Portland Weekend

January 14, 2018

Life always makes more sense during the day. The onset of my pubescent years was accompanied by night terrors that would bleed into wakefulness and turn comforting surroundings into confusing hellscapes of anxiety. Twenty years later, the night still holds a surreal, slightly sinister quality for me, making Seussian monoliths of elms and creeping ghouls of every gentle breeze.

I am a 32 year old woman afraid of the dark.

My weekend travels usually begin in the blur of dusk, that darkling space between work and weekend. I'll have a vodka at the airport and doze on the plane. The booze is my Drink Me potion, and like Alice this is where events get a little weird. Waking up vaguely hungover in a darkened, unfamiliar city makes me feel like I am floating, the world spinning slightly faster than I am moving through it. Checking into a homeshare, awkward under the best of circumstances, is an anxious business in the dark. I am tired, disoriented, and feeling threatened. Groping for hide-a-keys and thumping through strangers' sleeping homes makes me feel like a break and enter who, in the end, forgot to leave.

The mornings are delightful. Every confusing texture and shadow resolves itself into perfectly clear reality. I like to take long walks on these mornings and get my bearings. I feel powerful with my belongings strapped to my back. Walking confidently in the direction of breakfast, I am the embodiment of every fem-positive hashtag. #sololadytaveler #sheisnotlost #girlaroundtheworld

This morning in Portland, I am doggedly hanging on to every detail, narrating my experience to myself in prose as if my life was a novel, distinct from myself. "In a row of tidy houses stands one conspicuously unkempt. A makeshift ramp leads to the door, it's owner perhaps disabled." Useless. I won't remember any of it.

What I will remember is the flower-printed apron the barista wore as the served me collard greens, her face so animated as she reminisced about her home in south Texas. Underaged drinkers at a pool hall flirting and fighting over a digital jukebox. Much older, more seasoned drinkers feeding coins to slot machines, moving from one to the next to the next in a too-familiar loop. The pleasant, sharp cold on the sliver of naked knee skin between skirt and boots. The dawn. Long crumpled skirt and backpack.

Late Sunday evening, in another disorienting dark, I will drink the potion once more and my return plane will touch down in Dallas. But for the next thirty-six hours I am transient and light, and I like it.