Since returning home it’s been a chore to put my thoughts together into a cohesive stream to spew out at friends, let alone set them down in some type of paragraph format. Thinking back on Oregon, the time spent there doesn’t feel as cathartic or powerful as the last days of California. Oregon felt solitary and insular. The world around me was alive with fauna, rain that poured freely from the heavens and breweries on seemingly every block but I never like I was experiencing any of it, just documenting for a later description. I believe that I consumed more food in Oregon than I did in any other state, being in one place for an extended period of time makes me feel like stocking up on food like a nuclear war is bound to break out at any moment (what if I can never eat a burger again!?).
My first two or three (the number hardly matters I suppose) days in Oregon were spent in Springfield, a sleepy town outside of Eugene that seemingly only exists to host truckers and other disreputable people with a few off days on their hands. In Springfield I spent most of my time either reading by the open window in my hotel room or sitting at the bar reading and drinking at the brewery across the street. Everything had begun to repeat itself. We checked in to the hotel, Hauser and Elgin disappeared; everyone else fell into their rooms or walked the halls like ghosts in need of a room to haunt.
Restless, the six of us that couldn’t stand being cooped up in our hotel rooms any more made our way out into the empty streets of Eugene, anxious tourists begging to stir up trouble on a school night in a college town. Alone on a dance floor in an aquarium themed bar I wanted to be surrounded by strangers, sweating and ecstatic, moving slowly together as one body while a local DJ fumbled through his transitions. Whether he felt sorry for me or had the same intangible longing for connection, Mike joined me in the empty disco and twisted his body next to mine until we were outside breathing in the chill of the Oregon evening, moving with the group to another bar, anywhere were it wasn’t just us. We were tired of us and wanted to become tired of someone else.
Rearviewmirror fell clumsily out of the speakers lazily positioned around the new bar down the block from the fish bowl, people were alive here and the lighting was soft, pool tables clacked and Street Fighter 2 blinked in the back room, beckoning me like a portal to another time and place. Everyone in the bar knew everyone else; Mike and Tom quickly found townies to chat up while Amy held Pete up with arms stronger than we had perceived and Chris took everything in, paternal and sipping on a vodka pineapple. I had nothing to say and desired more than anything to be back on the dance floor, alone and bending myself into shapes only possible in a bar at negative capacity. Tim snapped me out of my desolate reverie and instructed me to exit stage left, Pete had said something, looked at someone the wrong way, or set a wall on fire; however it shook out we were being asked to leave immediately. Mike ducked into a dark corner with his townie, I handed my drink to a girl who was asking if my glasses were prescription, we fell out onto the street and Anthony of Padua sent a taxi to meet us at that precise moment. Deciding against sleep, Chris, Amy and I slipped into the closest diner and filled Pete up with coffee, chicken fried chicken, and hash browns covered in gravy; he had no plans of dying of alcohol poison so why would high cholesterol become a factor at this moment?
The next evening it was decided that the bars of Eugene were not yet ready for the extraordinary alcoholism that the Krewella road crew exhibited. 24 packs of High Life, PBR, and a couple of bottles of 7-11s finest were purchased, we dragged vacant chairs from our hotel rooms into Pete’s cavernous suite and began throwing down five dollar buy ins, everyone content with losing a little money in order to come together and laugh for one last time before plunging head first back into the grind of the day to day, somehow the world had allowed us to run away from home and live with the carnival and now we were bored with it. After drinking more than my fair share of High Life and champagne (champagne and champagne) and losing more than enough of my per diem I wandered back to my room, made a regretful phone call and fell asleep on the floor, my body refusing to acclimate to the contours of a hotel bed. Our second trip into the college town that spit us out mended any calloused feelings that were left over from our disaster of a night out. Friendly faces spoke kindly about traveling, water preservation and home brewed beer. Someone gave me a plastic cup full of pumpkin ale born in a garage and the hole in my heart grew in tiny increments, every I find a place that I think I can stay it’s time to leave, time to start from scratch.
In Portland I found the last internet café on the face of North America, Backspace was still renting out Dells by the hour and offering DSL at a paltry rate. I drank a cup of coffee that I either ordered incorrectly or was accidentally handed to me from the barista high on 90s nostalgia. Did I steal another customer’s coffee? It wasn’t exactly the climax of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when I approached the bar to pick up my drink. I swallowed the misappropriated coffee with milk and sugar (not my drink of choice) and walked back into the rain soaked streets to begin another long morning of counting down until my lunch with Josie, the best part of all of my days on the road.
Josie and I walked through the China Town district of Portland (if such a thing exists, there was a sign that said “CHINA TOWN” and that’s how I choose to refer to the area as forever) and stopped to eat at the one restaurant that wasn’t serving Asian cuisine (we’re complete bastards apparently), “Old Town Pizza Company” sounds a bit Spaghetti Warehouse but in actuality it’s a lovely tavern that serves indulgent pizzas, massive sandwiches, and local beers that put whatever I drank in Springfield to shame, specifically the Kawinga Summer Ale that I drained from the bottom of the keg, see you next year Kawinga. The rest of the day played out as all of my days on tour tended to play, Josie and I explored the area with new friends, tried to find clothes that fit, and traipsed back into the venue just under wire for doors to open. It’s possible that I was taking advantage of the fact that I had to return home with the next 30 hours so I took my job lightly for the evening (and the next evening as well). After Portland I slept uncomfortably in the bus for the last time, irrationally dreaming of falling out of my bunk onto the highway while settling up for the previous evening, an artist shackled by paperwork rolling down the asphalt at 70 miles per hour.