Unintended 2+ month stop off (PDX)

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On 4/20/17 I got to PDX after a lengthy bunch of mishaps (stagnant trains, shit locals, shit weed) worked themselves out along the way. Earlier in the year I had planned to get up to Seattle to work at a small new brewery my old messenger friend from Boston helped create. I kicked him some beer label art ideas and he loved them and I was in as long as I got there. Outside of working as a bike messenger (SF/Boston/NYC) for the majority of my adult life, I had tricked a tiki bar owner into letting me bartend and inevitably wreak havoc on his place of business perpetuating my “fake it til you make it” ethics into realty. I built an impenetrable reputation for being an absolute wild man at the time (sup SF, thanks again/goodtimes/sorry) and hired a bunch of my lunatic friends to work the door. Long story short, I hired my weirdo friend Doormat to keep the place safe and instead he smashed a kid on the ole noggin with a Big Buck Hunter arcade game rifle causing a literal melee inside and outside the bar. I just so happened to look over at him as it all unfolded while 3 deep at the bar firing out bs scorpion bowls. The very reason for his job was to make sure college kids behaved and had their IDs, fake or not, didn’t matter. Instead, my road dog super jabroni, took it upon himself to screw around with practically every customer and started fights more than he stopped them. He once took a kids ID for the sole reason of it looking similar to him (not at all in reality) claiming it looked fake when it wasn’t. The other bartender that night was this reformed tweaker turned bodybuilder from Palestine and I have a fond memory of him shoving waves of college kids out of the door and scream spitting like fucking Braveheart. The dude sucked but the moment was rad. Either way, Doormat and I got canned and I had a notch of bartending experience under my belt which I use as a skill for decent paying work pretty much anywhere I go.

Consuming about a tenth of the food that I normally do and having slowed my drinking, I dropped about 40 pounds (body by BNSF) in a super short span of time. It was as healthy as I’d ever felt, despite ripping butts and spliffs at high speeds. I thought a lot about the love of my life while riding alone with no real entertainment other than a book of short stories by Barry Hannah I had read several times already. I had adandoned her with little notice in an attempt to sort out the loose ends of my life and the uncertainty of ever getting back to her again had a stronghold on my conscious. Having accidentally caught out going easterly (Not by any means a knowledge fountain of BNSF whatsoever) lonliness had set in and my ability to socialize in NorCal and Oregon tweaker towns had worn thin. I got in a pretty bizarre fist fight in Dunsmuir and had lost most of my clothes in a laundrymat in West Oakland (completely my fault) I had an old disrupt shirt I never wanted to lose, but other than that I was fine with it. I felt physically strong but mentally depleted. I needed a motel for a night to regroup when and if I ever got to Portland.

I had 55 bucks, a Golden State Advantage platinum plus membership card (food stamps),
and a $75 prepaid Visa card for doing a research study in sf about accounting software for small business owners. I had no clue what any of that meant, spent an hour on Wikipedia at the coffee shop in the lobby of the building holding the study researching accounting bs and faked my way through the study, got paid, etc. Anyway, hopped off, ripped my right palm open and took a surprisingly peaceful nap by the Lloyd Center in Pdx. I knew a few people in town with comparatively docile and cookie cutter lifestyles and thought to wash the dirt and blood off me before exploring couch options. Googled “Portland hostel cheap” when I found WiFi you don’t have to pay by the hour for and caught a local bus over to scope it out.

In a manner of about 45 seconds I was told they were booked til late next week. I assessed that my clothes and bleeding hand weren’t gonna help me negotiate so I took a handful of peppermints with my blood hand and left.

Outside the hostel about a block away is this random tiny gazebo set right on the sidewalk of a main drag (Hawthorne) with a sign that says “Art Library” or “Take Art / Leave Art” or something. I piled my shit in there to beat the heat and smoke a joint when I found this tripped out anime coloring book with a nug of bud taped to the back cover (not in a bag, just a bud taped to a coloring book). I hadn’t eaten anything but almonds and this weird lime beef jerky shit in days so I decided to try my luck with my Cali food stamps in Oregon.

I bought a juice to see if the ole ebt would work across state lines and it did. My balance was stacked. I devised a plan to buy a few 5 packs of white t shirts with my gift card and write trippy messages with a paint marker on them and sell them on the street. I left my whole basket of food in front of where the t shirts were and set out on a plan. I turned the wacky gazebo into my studio for a couple hours and wrote vague messages like:

- “How Are You Enjoying Everything?”
- “No Bullshit, Please”
- “All Animals Are Special”
- “I Met 2Short In A Bathroom in 2010”

and sold them between $5-$15 outside a permanently closed restaurant right on a main drag where the hipster coolguys and cool girls ate it up. I played the same Hank Williams Sr. song over and over because it was the only dog I had on my telephone without internet.

Toward the end of the day I had 2 shirts left and made 120 American dollars to be put toward my own motel, preferably with a bathtub to enjoy a joint, air conditioning, and free breakfast. When the sun left my makeshift t shirt factory, I crossed the street to a bar called “Mulligans” to shoot pool, drink beer, and celebrate a small victory.

After a couple beers and a solo game of pool I realized that the money I had to get a motel (in case I needed to) comforted me much more than having to rush around and actually look for a cheap one (around 7 PM) so I decided to passively see where the night went. My exhaustion led me to a picnic bench outside the bar overlooking the street and I sat there quietly, ripping through tobacco and staring out into the traffic passing by. I felt comfort in being in the presence of strangers without needing to talk or interact with anyone. Lonliness surrounded by wilderness and nothing else is an entirely different brand of feeling compared to big city lonliness.

I met a hopper from SoCal weilding a heavy stack of Magic the Gathering cards, dressed for the dead of New England winter in 70 degree weather. He noticed my beat to shit pack stuffed under the table, sat down without asking, and started separating is playing cards into piles while mumbling to himself. While doing so I noticed tracks on the back of both hands. One looked like it was done from a shitty tattoo gun and one looked poked. I asked him about it and we got to talking about when and why he started riding. His name was Sucz (?) and despite him clearly being strung out, I enjoyed his company. He went in the bar with a few dollars in quarters for a cheap beer and the bartender refused to serve him for whatever cool reason he had. How foolish. I walked in to use the bathroom and on my way out used an exacto knife to rip the felt all the way down on the pool table. I quickly left without telling him what I did til a couple hours later since he was on the phone when I motioned that I was leaving.

I walked at a good quip moving away from downtown letting my thoughts run after a face blasting pre roll. I heard, “Yo!” and a strong whistle from behind, not realizing Sucz was dragging behind still on the phone. We walked probably twenty blocks or so before he hung up. I mentioned parting ways to get in a motel for the night before it’s too late. I found it suspiscious and too good to be true, but he had a place for 3 nights in this fancy apartment in southeast until his stripper functioning junkie friend and boyfriend return from Vancouver (BC). I bought chicken at this American Apparel looking food truck for $16 along the way knowing I’m covered for a night or two and could sleep outside after a day or so of rest. It hit the spot and we ate the greasy shit on the move.

As we turned onto the street of the apartment he said “wait here and I’ll come get ya.” I comply but instantly think some fuckery is going on as I watch him effortlessly hop a fence and disappear. I wait on the corner for close to 20 minutes and leave. Aware of my bs vandalism warrant states away, I attempt to keep it moving in case this kid is looting the house or worse. I walk in the direction of where I saw him last, whistling to he could hear me as I leave and look up the stairs to a fancy porch with two separate apartment doors. The left door flings open and Sucz is sporting a white bathrobe over his filthy clothes and a Halloween Viking sailor helmet with horns. I save my laughter for when I walk in and ask the important questions. Toward the back of the house we go sit at the kitchen table and I tell him there is no way we are supposed to be here. He replies, “ Well we’re not not supposed to be here” with a shit eating grin on is face. It turned out that he knew the people that lived there well and that they would not at all be psyched about us being here. Right as I notice a rig by the kitchen sink he shows me the screen of the window he had to slice to get in. He jimmied the back window open with no issue and the screen had to go which confused me. My faith in the dude dropped and I weighed my options. I keep cool and he passes me a warm beer to assure me it’s all good. I took a shower with the lights out for likely 45 minutes listening to a police scanner app on my phone with help from the WiFi password on the fridge. I come out and Sucz is passed out on the couch with his shit strewn everywhere. I inspect both beds and the other couch like Goldie Locks and decide on the girly room with the fancy canopy bed. I reorganized all my belongings in my pack, hid my small amount of money in my longjohns and slept uninterrupted for 12 hours. I felt oddly safe, curious about tomorrow. I crossed out the weirdo message I wrote on one of my remaining t shirts and wrote “I Heard Your Place is Rad!”, let it dry out til the morning and carefully placed it in between a bunch of t shirts in the bureau. It’s always nice to leave something behind when you come across a nice scenario.

(To be continued!)
 
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