It’s 3 a.m. when my alarm goes off. I zombie-walk through the deep, thick darkness—away from bed, away from husband, away from dog, away from sweet, sweet dreams. See, my flight leaves at 5:50 a.m., the first flight of the morning, and I’m flying standby from the airport farthest away from me. I cannot miss this flight. I’m meeting girlfriends in Portland.
We have plans: cocktails, dinners, breakfasts, wineries, touristing and more. I make it. I make the 5:50 a.m. flight, and I make the connecting flight by a hair. But I’m in Portland. With my friends. I’m tired. It’s 12 p.m. in Portland, but my watch says 2 p.m. I’ve been up for 11 hours, and it’s just 12 p.m. in Portland? Yes, I feel it, but getting here, making it, spending time with friends in a city far, far away—it’s worth it.
Let’s Get Acquainted
Friends—they come from Dallas, Mississippi, Austin and San Diego. Some I’ve known for a long time, some are friends of friends that I’ve known for less time. We’re all friends. We all know or will know each other, but we’re out of touch. Kids, husbands, families, homes, jobs, fitness, travel, life—all these thing take all of us. For this trip, we’ve left it all behind. We’re getting reacquainted without disruption, and it’s perfect. It fills the soul. Old jokes we share are still funny, old stories we tell are still interesting, things we used to like we still like, things we used to like we don’t like. We’ve grown, but inside we’re still that version of ourselves that we remember each other being in the beginning.
Portland, a city none of us have ever visited, is exciting, new, fresh. It’s not like anywhere we’re from. We want to know it. We want to eat it all up in a day and a half.
First stop is the Portland City Grill, a popular spot for tourists and locals alike for its amazing view of the city. Here, we eat and talk polite conversations. The weekend is officially beginning: “How’s Austin?” “How’s your dog?” “How was your flight?” Banter is light and easy.
Second stop is a ride on the tram. Locals use it to get to work, like a bus. We used it to joyride. We’re in heels, showered, makeup-ed and dressed for dinner. We go up. “This is fun!” “I’m scared.” “I’m sitting down.” “I’m not looking.” We go down. “Are you ok?” “Are we there yet?” “Take a picture!” We meet our adventurous spirit back on solid ground, the platform, right where we left it.
Third stop is Fireside for dinner. It’s modern, eclectic, fire-pit themed. It’s Portland. And we’re getting comfortable. We share food, share wine, share laughs, share stories, share smiles, share hugs. “Should we get more wine?” “I will if you will.” “Let’s do it together.” “Let’s get two desserts.” “I won’t tell.” “I promise I won’t tell.” It’s the end of the night, and we’re like old friends. And we like being old. And we love being friends.
The Next Day
The next day, I’m up, and not as early as I had thought I’d be. I’m in borrowed pajama pants because that’s what friends are for. We share things, including clothes, beds and blankets. It’s like a sleepover, except we’re all in our mid-30s. It’s fun, and I think back to when we used to do this all the time. And I silently hope we’ll do it again—go on a girls’ trip and share our time, memories, clothes, beds. Because we’re friends, and we love being friends.
We tour four wineries in the Willamette Valley by day. Beautiful vineyards, beautiful mountains, hills, trees, sun, gardens, flowers, beautiful everything. And we enjoy each others’ company. And we enjoy the wine. Sometimes there is stillness. Sometimes there is quiet. And that’s OK. The valley calls for quiet, stillness, reflection. And we gather back again and talk, discuss our lives, discuss our feelings like girls do, and we become closer and closer still. This trip is worth it.
That evening we eat at Mother’s, where their motto is It’s All About the Love. It’s mom’s home cooking at its finest. Big, fat, delicious buttery rolls come free, an unassuming introduction to the classic, slow-cooked dishes that follow. The weekend is about reminiscing on the past, reconnecting and building new memories, and a taste of the familiar is a well-suited bonus.
It’s after-dinner drinks and dessert at LeChon to end the trip. We celebrate friendships—old and new—and our love of being friends. We celebrate in Portland, which was new, but now is known, like a great friend we’ll all visit again.