Sometimes I feel I’ve got to (baomp baomp) get away…

…I’ve got to (baomp baomp) run away. Sometimes I feel this need after coming back from three weeks of vacation, after only one week of work. Yes, sometimes it’s like that. And so it happened that this weekend, instead of going on a hike and going to meeting like a good wanna-be Quaker and then going to the Superflat exhibit at the Henry (and eating a scrumdiddlyumptious lunch at the fantastic Henry cafe) as planned, Carl and I hopped into the Toyota and tooled on down to lovely Portland, OR.

Ever since I moved here I have been saying to myself or to other people, “Now that I live in the lovely Puget Sound Area, I must avail myself of many wonderful weekend trips around here.” Vancouver, BC! The San Juan Islands! Powell’s Books in Portland! The Ashland Shakespeare Festival!

Well, okay, fine, I did go to the San Juans last winter.

(time elapses as I give Carl a ride to aikido, realize he left his gi at home, drive back home and drop him off, go to the store, buy food, come home, make and eat dinner, let the cat eat some of my dinner, and read a book for a while).

Where was I? Oh, well, yes, I did go to the San Juans last winter, so at least I’ve done that. It feels like Carl and I are always talking about going to Portland and seeing his friend from high school there and then going to Powell’s Books. And we never do. So it was with some surprise that we packed up the car and headed down, after only a week back at work and everything. The friend that we kept talking about seeing was actually going to be in Seattle that weekend, so we didn’t get to see him, but we did get to stay in his house. So that worked out.

We went on a ridiculously fun date. We went to a Fancy Restaurant…because that’s what I want in a date, folks…forget the movie part, I just want the dinner! I even got dressed up and everything, although I did forget to bring my one bit of makeup, which would be a Burt’s Bees lipstick, should you wonder. This place felt very swanky to me; I almost giggled out loud when the hostess asked if we wanted to wait in the lounge while they got our table ready. I was all, ‘Yes! The lounge! I would like to wait at the lounge! I would like to go to the lounge and wait there, in the lounge, while I wait! And bring me a whole bottle of Pellegrino!” I’m happy to report that just because I don’t hardly drink doesn’t mean I can’t act deeply stupid.

This restaurant, apparently, used to be a Tasty Freeze or something, and indeed from the outside it still looked like one, with the big pointy roof and awning and everything. On the inside it was pretty swanky, with very architectural lighting and sponge-painted walls and jazz music and everything. And I have to say that all this swankiness could not compare to the singular gorgeosity of the busboy who refilled our water and brought us bread and everything. Do you like that kind of sloe-eyed, hair-to-his-eyebrows, leather-cuff-wearing, deliciously insidious kind of good-looking boy? Yes? So does Carl, because it was he who first mentioned this boy’s loveliness. I like that about Carl, as it allowed me to give the following monologue:

“Ooh, yes, it’s your boyfriend, Carl. Oh, whoops, I spilled my water! He’ll just have to come over and refill it for me! Oh, look, I just stuffed eighteen pieces of foccacia in my mouth, necessitating his presence at this table once again! Oh no! I dropped my fork, meaning he has to come over here and bend over to get it, affording us an unparralleled view of his butt!”

And so on. Great fun, I tell you. Clearly this man hated us, because though I didn’t actually give the aforementioned monologue until after we got back to Seattle last night, I’m sure he saw us making goo-goo eyes at him the whole time, when we weren’t making them at each other and holding hands and going “Oh, honey!” That’s okay, he can hate us if he wants, because he gave off the vibe of Going Out After Work, whereas we simply went back to the borrowed house and watched a DVD. We have to get our kicks in before midnight, you see.

I would like, just for a moment, to mention some very yummy food at this place, something I haven’t ever had before, and I don’t know if anyone has ever had before. Has anyone ever had sauteed snow pea tips? No pea pods, just little stringy things with leaves thrown in? In garlic and chile and olive oil? No? Me neither. I mistook it for spinach at first, and was about to have words with the server, who, in his own way, was also quite attractive. But no. Now usually I don’t hold with vegetables you can twirl around a fork like angel hair, but for some reason this worked. Very good. I didn’t even know snow peas had tips!

So, yes, ate yummy dinner and congratulated ourselves for dressing up and looking (relatively) cute, had some tiramisu that was frankly inferior to the kind I make, looked deep into each others’ eyes and were very conscious of being happy together, came home and watched The Dark Crystal,which I realize is kind of dorky, but I’d been wanting to watch it again for some reason, and it was in the house, and so we did. It is very scary. You know, horrible bird monsters, little people having the juices literally sucked out of them, wrinkled crone with removable eye, that kind of thing. It was a formative film in my youth…I don’t remember even being scared by it seeing it in the theater as a kid, but I do remember being impressed with the girl gelfling or whatever that can talk to the animals and everything. The kicker? You see, her name is Kira, and my name is Chiara, and it’s all just so perfect! There was a time in my life, which coincided nicely with my initial viewing of this movie, in which I desperately wanted a bike license plate with my name on it. Just like Ramona Quimby, you know. Anyway, I didn’t get one until college, and that’s a story in and of itself, but long story short, I thought it was just great that this Muppet had a name almost like mine. For those of you who don’t speak Italian, my name is pronounced Key-ar-ah, as opposed to Chee-ar-ah. Like chianti+tiara, except without the ti part. Got it? Very exciting.

Anyway, the other lasting legacy from this movie is that I have this funny little language I sort of speak…when I was a kid I used to try to talk to the cats and the lizards in this nonsense language. Nothing has answered me back as of yet, but the upshot is that I tend to still talk like this. Mostly around Carl or my mom or other close friends. I’m all “isu masaku biko! asabakataba! babiashu!” for various reasons. When we were going to meet the folks in Portland we’d actually come to see, Carl told me that I was going to have to speak only in words found in the Oxford English Dictionary for the duration. If I had a better vocabulary I could have said something funny at that point, but I don’t, so I settled for “‘Greetings, chuckle-headed oyster-noggins!’ Does that count? Huh? Does that count?” Everyone will be relieved, I’m sure, to know that I did manage to converse fairly normally, until we got back in the car to go home, and I was all “piku piku! azebado! manashuwato!” as usual.

Powell’s Books was pretty good. I was only allowed to get two books, so I didn’t have the orgy of book-buying that everyone else did. We spent a couple of hours in the cafe just talking and catching up, which was fun, and then dispersed throughout the store to look for various stuff. Yes, dispersed throughout the store that comprises four stories and is the size of a city block, literally. I got disoriented very quickly, having no spatial skills to speak of. I did catch up with everyone in the Rare Book Room, which had a first-edition signed copy of The Hobbit for $25,000. Yeah.

Still, it’s not really my home bookstore, so I felt a little out of it. I jsut couldn’t find anything. I treated it more like a museum than a bookstore, walking around going “Oh, pretty colors” more than anything else. I got an “interpretive ethnography” about geisha (called, appropriately enough, Geisha) and a book of short stories by Ha Jin. The short story collection is my bus book and the geisha book is my bed book. That’s just how it works.

So that was a pretty fun weekend, I have to say. A nice easy drive down there, got to see some people by whom I’d been intensely intimidated in college but who were extremely nice and much less intimidating than previously imagined, had a great time with my sweetie, ate some great food, got to watch a special feature about the making of The Dark Crystal…during which they show the young Jim Henson talking about being a master puppeteer, causing me to cry “Oh, Jim Henson! Architect of my youth! We miss you! We miss you, Mr. Henson!” What more do you want? Fame, fortune, glory, a pair of bootcut jeans that fit you in the waist? Well, yes, I do want that last thing, but aside from that, it was a great weekend and I’m glad I had it. You have few enough times in your life where you can just enjoy what you’re doing without wanting to do anything else, so it’s always nice when you can recognize that while you’re having the actual good time.

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