The Rain in Spain

Posted: April 9th, 2008 | Author: | Filed under: Miss Kate | No Comments »

Last night we returned from four delightful yet rain-sodden days in Portland. Oregon, that is.

At 9 weeks old, it was Paigey’s maiden air-travel voyage. She was a week older than Kate was when she had her first flight to Aunt Terry’s in Kentucky for Thanksgiving. And despite the absurd number of bags, car seats, portable cribs, lap tops, and strollers that we brought, we managed to get both children there and back without mistakenly having left one on a parking shuttle van.

So much about Portland is extremely cool. Lovely neighborhoods and big old houses that aren’t staggeringly expensive. Restaurants serving local organic foodie-grade food in a hip setting, and hostesses that crouch down and hand your toddler crayons when you walk in the door. World-class coffee and wacky donuts, and some of the best independent toy stores I’ve ever been in. And heck, the folks were downright friendly–even after having found out we’re Californians (who many of them have disdain for as if we’re illegal border crossers).

Kate was all hopped up about our vacation destination. (Well, vacation for Kate, Paige and I, and work for Mark, who had some press thingy at Nike early this week.)

On the plane there were a lot of questions. “They have toys in
Portland? They have books there?” And Sunday morning after ferreting a
pack if instant oatmeal out of our bag like a truffle-sniffing pig, she
asked hopefully, “They have hot water for oatmeal in Portland, Mama?” 

We were totally into how much her mind was blown by the concept of a rental car. “What this car?” “We not take the Subaru?” Once we explained that our cars were at home and this was a rental, there needed to be commentary on it every time we’d get in: “Dada have someone else’s keys.” “We take someone else’s car.” “This not the Subaru.”

When she’d hear someone on the radio say the word Portland she got all hopped up. “They say Portland, Mama!” As if the fact that they call this place Portland was something only we were hip to. ‘No way! The person on the radio knows this is Portland too!’

I guess it all could have been annoying, if it weren’t for the fact that seeing her try to grapple with these concepts was hilarious and sweet, at least to her adoring parents. Even the way she pronounces the word Portland–”PAWT-lend”–is excellent.

In Mark’s four weeks of paternity leave we had the old if-not-here-then-where-would-we-live conversation one morning when we were out for breakfast. Pondering the Utopian place where we aren’t but should (or could) be has become a bit of an obsessive hobby, at least for me. Of course, Mark loves his job, so my arm-chair pondering isn’t really steeped in any imminent plans to uproot. But that doesn’t stop my wheels from turning.

At that breakfast one city Mark tossed out as a possibly cool place to live–probably just to shut me up–was Portland. So it was fortuitous that he suddenly had a work trip up thar which gave us occasion to check the place out. Again, just something to feed my hobby even though we ain’t going nowhere no time soon.

Well even if we wanted to move somewhere tomorrow, four straight days of rain with only occasional “sun breaks” (as they call them) was enough of a taste of Portland’s nine-month rainy season to start mushrooms growing on my psyche. And, as anyone who’s ever had me over for dinner knows, I don’t do mushrooms. It is a great place to spend a weekend, but for the love of God, how do people live there?

On the traffic-clogged drive to the airport I proclaimed our foray into the great Northwest a success, but determined that I was one Californian the locals didn’t need to worry about moving in on their turf.

Me: “Yeah, so with this rain I could never live here. Though the way Kate says PAWT-lend is pretty damn cute. Maybe we should just move here because of that.”

Mark: “Well sure.”

Me: “But then, it’s probably one of those short-lived pronunciation things that we love, like the way she used to say apple and before we know it she’ll learn to say it normally and won’t be saying PAWT-lend any more, and then we’ll have made this whole huge effort to move here just for that and it’ll have gone away.”

Mark: “Yeah, you’re probably right. And then we’d just have to pick up and move to another place that she says cutely.”

Ah well. At this point it’s probably just prudent to stay put in Oakland. At least until the next time Mark and I get to talking at breakfast.

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