Wednesday, July 7, 2010

dinner in portland

So our summer vacation was really fun. San Francisco is a great city. It even smells wonderful, a combination of lavender and eucalyptus and the briny bay. But Portland has a special place in my heart.

Portland has rose gardens and breweries and a functional yet cheap light rail. The people are exceptionally nice. The weather, when you catch it on a good day, is lovely. There are forests within the city. Amazing farmer's markets. And almost every restaurant, from trendy spots to little joints around the corner, serves food that is so beyond my (admittedly high) expectations that all I can do is shake my head and smile.

Portland is also home to one of my favorite friends. Joey was my first boyfriend, if you call holding hands and one chaste kiss on my parents' front steps a relationship. We met during our freshman year of high school and he was the nicest, cutest guy I had ever met. I thought my heart was going to burst. Unfortunately for me, he and his family moved to another city a few months later, leading to my first major heartbreak. I never thought I'd love again. Which lasted about a semester, at least.
I figured he forgot all about me during the rest of high school but to my surprise, he mailed me a letter a week after graduation. I still remember finding the envelope in my mailbox, reading and rereading the letter.

We made plans to meet up after I started college in Orlando. He lived in Tampa, and drove across the state to meet me at my dorm. Nothing had changed except now he could drive and play guitar. I was in love all over again. A semester later, he transferred to my university and we were inseparable for three years. We even lived together, making dinner and listening to records in our little apartment.

Obviously, the relationship didn't work out. While Joey is still one of the nicest, most pure-of-heart people I know, our timing wasn't right for something long-term. I had an internship to do, he had a band to tour with. But mostly we were really young. I think we both knew that breaking up was for the best but it was still rough, as these things tend to be. 

Somehow we've remained friends over the years and we always hang out when Dan and I are in Portland. On this trip, Joey and his girlfriend Grace invited us over for dinner at their apartment, along with a mutual friend and his girlfriend. Being in their home made me happy. There were cutesy photobooth pictures of them on their fridge, cards to one another on a table. They were making plans together, starting to build a life. It was easy to see they were in love. 
I also saw Joey's old wooden desk, where I used to sit and write papers in college. I spied a mixtape of Radiohead rarities listed in my handwriting. And I saw the one thing I was hoping to find--my grandfather's record player, which has special meaning now that he passed away. So many pieces of a life divided up and carted off to other cities, opposite coasts. If Joey ever came to our apartment, I know he'd recognize a piece of furniture or two.

But the past is the past. We were there to eat and have fun. Michael Jackson was on the stereo. Joey poured wine into jam jars and we watched their cat jump in and out of the open living room window. Then he set out a bountiful meal of homemade hummus and pita bread, quinoa and chopped vegetable salads, lentils and rice, thick yogurt, and beautiful cantaloupe and cherries.
We ate in silence at first, too absorbed in the full plates in our laps. Then everyone started commenting on how good everything was, asking how did you make this, or what's in that? Joey, ever humble, just smiled. After dinner we passed around a plate of chocolate chip-coconut macaroons. I was so impressed with the way his life was coming together, not to mention his cookie-baking skills.

It was one of the nicest meals during the entire trip. In spite of the awkwardness of breaking up, stupid things I did and said, and the passing of time, thankfully, there is still a place for me at his table.

Dinner at Joey and Grace's
Cherries and canteloupe
Hummus and pita bread
Lentils and rice
Quinoa and vegetable salad
Cucumber-yogurt sauce
Cucumber-tomato-feta salad 
Coconut-chocolate chip macaroons 

8 comments:

Pink of Perfection said...

I'm surprised you and I haven't bumped into each other walking down Nostalgia Lane. I've been traveling up and down in this week, too. Oh, lost young loves... PS Their apartment looks dreamy terrific.

lori said...

This post is so pretty & beautifully written. I love that you can connect your real life experiences to the great food you've enjoyed.

Thanks for sharing. :)

Anonymous said...

Pop had a "hi-fi" in a cabinet. Cha cha cha.
We had a Pioneer receiver.

Lisa said...

POP: Glad I am not the only one! And yes, their apartment is really cute.

Lori: Thank you so much!

Anony: I don't remember the cabinet.

Anne said...

First off, welcome back! Second, lovely post. Third, this made me laugh because I'm still living with my first true love and college boyfriend. Can't seem to get rid of him, though we've cycled through several rounds of hand-me-down, garbage-picked, and Ikea furniture!

Daniel said...

I have a confession to make: I'm in love with Joey!

Thanks for having us, guys!

Tender Branson said...

I'm glad that you two have been able to remain friends, that is really rare.

Lisa said...

Anne: Thank you! Clearly you've been with Colin all these years because he's a keeper. Or maybe you're just crazy.

Daniel: It's easy to love a guy like Joey.

Tender Branson: It is! And I'm very grateful.

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