I wrote this months ago after I came back from visiting Robin in Portland in August 2010. I was chatting with Mel about his upcoming trip there and this simple text conversation reminded me that this piece existed. The last paragraph is a new part of this piece, just added today.
It’s funny how people come in and out of your life. Less than two weeks ago I was walking along the streets of Portland, Oregon talking to Todd, a 49-year-old Deadhead, wearing a long sleeved tye-dye shirt and a purple backpack. I was lost and, clearly, he could see this. He asked where I needed to go. When I told him he said he would walk with me to my said destination. Along this 15 minute walk I learned that he was a chef at P.F. Chang’s in Los Angeles and has been clean for two years. You see, working in a restaurant exposed him to massive amounts of cocaine and since then he hasn’t touched it. He told me how he used to sleep on the beach, but now he is in Portland--begging for change and making enough to stay in a motel every night. He told me he is a clean, respectable guy who can’t find work, but he showers almost every day. I can’t quite remember how I responded. He asked a few questions, but was more concerned with telling me his entire life story; so, I saw it in my best interest to just listen. He moved up to Portland to mend his relationship with his mother. Alright, I can respect that. I arrive at my destination and he (as much as he hated to do this) asks me politely, “Do you have any coinage?” I’m sorry, Todd; I had to decline. It’s not that my heart was cold, I literally had no coinage.
Before Todd I met Brian from San Francisco and before Brian it was Raul from Barcelona. Can’t forget crazy James, the guy who sped all over Portland with me in his 500E Mercedes-Benz. I have a new respect for cars. Everyone had their own crazy story and I was willing to listen. All the while back in New York there was this one particular person I had met a week prior to all of these fascinating people en route to and in Portland. I thought he had a beautiful soul, but it was all fake love.
These type of people are what Chuck Klosterman refer to as those who you fall in “fake love” with. Klosterman goes on to say: “We all convince ourselves of...fictionalized portrayals of romance that happen to hit us in the right place, at the right time.” It’s like a storybook with a predictable ending. Rather than a happy ending it always turns out the same. An unsuccessful fulfillment of a relationship that you never wanted from the get-go. Fake love is a very powerful thing. Fake lovers are no different from people you meet everyday. Everyone has a story. Everyone has their idiosyncrasies. Everyone has beautiful elements to share and a few ugly characteristics as well. What is the purpose of life? Is it to be loved? Is it to be rich? Is it to be successful? Or is it to be happy? You tell me.
It's funny to look back on this writing several months later.I wonder if Todd is still roaming the streets of Portland? I hope Mel finds him with his purple backpack while he's out there. I wonder if he ever mended the relationship with his mother? A lot of crazy shit has happened betwixt and between this trip. A lot of death: Heath is gone, Robin is moving back to New York (THANK GAWD!) and the aforementioned "fake lover" is no longer with us as well. Perhaps, that trip was a curse, some strange Karma bullshit--maybe I was never meant to go out there. I hate Portland, the coast is beautiful, but I hated that city. I should have taken Danielle's words more wisely; those that she said before I left: "Why are you going to Portland? Isn't that where hipsters go to die?"