Notes on a friend, post-Portland.

On Sunday, the day before Labor Day, I was sitting in a bar called Gustav's at the Portland Airport. The bartender poured me a Widmer's Drifter Pale Ale from a tap topped with an orange life preserver, and a U.S. Open match played on the television over my head. The bartender wore a barrette with a silk flower hot-glued to it, and I wanted to ask her about all the interesting people she must see in a typical day. She didn't seem in the mood to talk. I didn't really need to talk, but I would have talked to anyone.

I was alone for essentially the first time in more than a week, headed home to Chicago after nine days spent more than 2,000 miles away. Nine days away from my bed. Nine days away from my cat. Nine days away from my friends — except for Marcy.

Marcy, one of my best friends: an even better one now, after nine days of not murdering each other. We didn't even consider it, to my knowledge.

 

We actually spent our last night in Portland in Ridgefield, Wash., eating dinner at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant with her Uncle Bill and his delightful girlfriend, Renata. Marcy and I drank margaritas; we made small talk about movies and maimed a fly to the point where it lay still in the windowsill more than it buzzed…but it wasn't quite dead.

At the end of the meal, we all stared down one last makeshift sopaipilla — a tortilla chip, dusted with cinnamon sugar, drizzled with honey and topped with canned whipped cream and Hershey's chocolate sauce — while Marcy chased her refried beans around a plate with an oversized spoon.

She's so weird. And I absolutely adore her.  Marcy has a penchant for neon socks, Spanx, Lululemon and old man shoes; she's obsessed with those little blue oil-absorbing sheets and drinks iced coffee like it's water. She has a spin bike in her bedroom and incredibly macabre photography on her walls. And a spine. Yes, a human spine.

When we got back to the house in La Center, where we stayed for nine nights, we watched Jane Eyre on Marcy's computer while we finished the bottles of Oregon wine we'd bought two nights before. We talked about boys we've known as we compiled an entirely inappropriate spreadsheet for future reference. It's strange to think so much life happened before we even met. I've met her parents and her twin sisters, spent hours in her apartment and even more time in her car — we've drank together (but not to excess) and eaten together (far more than most women are willing to admit to).

She buys chocolates in the grocery store because they have funny packaging; she fears eggs, so she orders meat and carbs a la carte from every brunch menu. She loves bourbon.

Marcy lives and breathes her business, and that's actually an amazing thing, even though I'll never be that way; she uses the word startup almost as much as she uses "I" or "me," and it's almost impossible to draw her away from her work when she's in the zone. But when she does loosen up — puts the iPad down — and lets herself dance to '90s music in the car or winery hop with Uncle Bill and Renata, or get to know a group of Portland startup guys over cocktails, my God. Is she fun.

A hoot and a half.

The number of lesbian jokes made during this trip by the many people we met in Portland is staggering, but really it's just a bizarrely close relationship forged in just a few short months.

We sometimes recognize just how little we know about each other, which gives us plenty of material to discuss but otherwise doesn't really matter. Yet we can still finish each other's sentences and already have enough inside jokes to last us a lifetime — with room for more. Obviously.

 

 

Ten days is a long time to spend with anyone. I don't even want to think about what spending 10 straight days with me is like…Marcy is a strong, strong woman.

As much as I clamored near the end of our trip for the breathing room I'm so accustomed to at home, now that we've gone back to our separate lives — me to my cat, her to more work and…the spine on her wall — I really miss her. I miss her humor and her seriousness and feeling like I had a roommate for that short period of time.

Something in my post from the other day struck a nerve with her. It upset her, I think, that I took issue so vocally with the idea that entrepreneurs must be willing to sacrifice intrapersonal relationships for the potential success of their endeavors, because she's lived it, and while it's been hard for her at time…I don't think she regrets it in the least.

It's hard knowing that I hurt someone's feelings, but all I can say is that time of sacrifice must have been long ago, because even on the days she's most slavish to her work, she still manages to send me little reminders that we're friends.