The bars had lines out the door- disjointed trails of shivering & hopeful drunks looking to meet up with old buddies, old flames, and old sons of bitches who were chilling on the inside, lookin' out. These places never had lines before, but they did last night.
The bars inside were hot, sweaty. The wait for beers were endless, couldn't even find water. A cover band ripped a pretty great version of "When the Levee Breaks" at the Irish joint and the Celtics were playing the Warriors at Gritty's, which felt more like a sauna than an incredibly overcrowded bar.
"Why are you here?" I asked Mavo.
"I don't know."
There are many things that change every time I come back to Portland, I'm sure this can be said for everywhere and everyone. You'd be foolish to think that things came to stop just because you left town. No dude, the band is still playing, just found a new drummer who plays a hell of a lot louder than you do and that seems to be what the band wanted all along. The boats still leave a couple minutes late, and everything you were a part of has continued on. So going home seems to become much more of a striving for re-acclimation than a longing for re-reminiscing. Gone long enough, and you don't even realize that when Stanner said, "You went to Utah?" it was a joke- one you used to be a part of.
Two and a half years gone and it took about five minutes to remember why Utah was funny.
Saw one buddy- a dude I grew up with, but hadn't seen in a few years, and while he was talking to me, going on about green building and the potential for Frisco to be at the forefront, I was studying his face, looking for familiarity. Couldn't find it though. He was a different person and no one I really knew anymore. He got up and left almost mid-sentence- ended up down stairs playing Foosball with one old buddy whose beard makes him look like the nautical dude I guess he wants to be and one old bastard who I never really cared for. The good thing about that, is that after forced greetings and such over recent years, we didn't even say anything to one another. I was fine with that.
But the Frisco dude's voice didn't even sound familiar and I couldn't remember if he was even talking in a cadence similar to the one he talked with when we were growing up. I guess his hair looked the same, but really, as he was talking I couldn't help but think, who the hell is this guy?
At closing time, the Old Port streets were a stumbling mass of incredibly young drunks, the younger, younger siblings of people I used to stumble out of the same bars with. I didn't even know some of these kids were old enough to drive yet, but apparently they're old enough to drink, or at least old enough to get a decent enough fake i.d.
I don't know if this morning I was supposed to wake up happy with myself for seeing what I saw, but instead I woke up confused because I'm still not sure what I saw. Everything is different, two and a half years is apparently long enough to change everything. Everyone always says, yeah, shit is pretty much the same. But that's not true and if it were, there wouldn't have been a line outside every bar I went to. Things in Portland have changed, and I'm realizing that I need to go into these situations more open-minded than I thought I was.
Open-minded because while some people may look the same, they, like myself, aren't. It could be as simple as new facial hair or new clothes or new flames, but regardless of what they say, home has changed and will always be changing. If the Earth stopped spinning every time someone decided to move on, boring wouldn't even be able to sum up how things would then shake down. It's not so much the changes you've made, but the changes others have made that make going home what it is.
A little over two years doesn't sound like a long time, but it's apparently just long enough.