My first year of grad school in San Francisco was a lot of working and reading and writing and being very, very alone. It was not a lot of socializing or partying or doing much of anything worth writing about, really. And it was definitely not about exploring the city. I worked in Brisbane (and you will never hear of this small town again) and lived in the Sunset when everyone else lived in the Haight or the Mission. I moved here without ever visiting before, and I moved here without knowing anyone. I was isolated to say the least. So when I was sick of going to movies alone, eating waffles in my stupid little damp apartment by myself, I would travel. Sometimes by myself to new places (Paris), but mostly to places where I had people (Miami – way before I knew Kamel, Chicago, Seattle, Portland).
Portland was where Claire lived. She worked in the nursing department of the University of Portland where she had just graduated and was saving for her epic trip to South Africa. She was renting a room from a woman in her 30s who spent most of the time in her girlfriend’s house. So, for the most part, Claire had the house to herself. Claire is also the best friend who is up for anything.
When I go through a terrible, terrible break up and need something to look forward to? Claire and I book tickets to Disney Land. When we are killing time in the apartment we later shared, who is the first to suggest a movie, or running down to Walgreens for candy, or chasing the 10 year old boys we suspect of drinking down the back ally? Claire. So she was the perfect person for me to call up and say “I’m coming to Portland Friday – Sunday on these dates. I’m wearing my going out clothes on the plane, when you pick me up, we’re headed straight to the bars!”
So, after we successfully flirted with strangers, and I distinctly remember making out with some guy who had a tongue ring…odd the memories i dredge up… we dash off in a cab, back to Claire’s house. Just about a block away, Claire realizes: she does not have her keys. They are not in her giant purse with many mysterious folds and pockets (folds and pockets that have often been known to swallow keys, and sunglasses), they are not in the seat creases of the cab, or on the floor. We pay and get out of the cab, in the rain and cold of Portland winter, and stand on her porch as Claire frantically calls a very crowded bar to see if they can go check the booth we were sitting in, just in case.
In the mean time, I’m standing in the porch, yelling at her, “I’m not going to sleep outside, Claire… I will NOT sleep outside!!” and full preparing myself to call another cab and put a hotel room on my credit card. But Claire is yelling back at me, that she’s got this. She is IN CONTROL. After all of her phone leads (friends, friends of friends, the bar… again) have come to an end, genius Claire (and I mean that in the non sarcastic way) decides to check the screens on the windows for any looseness. By now I am laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation…. until one pops up and off, Claire slides the window open and we have victory!
Claire climbed through first. The only real issue with the position of this window was the rickety table directly below it, and the ghetto picnic chair we had to use to climb through it. I honestly don’t remember who did what, but I do remember that at some point, one of us (and it totally could have been me, I’m about 90% sure that it was) knocked over a beautiful glass lamp that was sitting on the rickety piece of shit kitchen table, that obviously could NOT take the weight of two well fed ladies. What a rip off. Claire was a little concerned about the lamp, but mostly elated that we actually made it inside the house.
And then later that night we discovered we had gotten the same pajamas for Christmas.
So let’s recap: Winter of 2008, lonely times in San Francisco, debauchery (tongue ring) in Portland leads to getting locked out of a stranger’s house where Claire is now living, which leads to breaking into the house through a faulty screen and unlocked windows, which leads to breaking some sort of heirloom lamp (or was it a vase?), me documenting everything obnoxiously, and hey! look! pajamas!
Now it’s your turn, tell me a story.