If you know anyone who lives in Portland, you’ve already heard the news. It stopped raining! Not only has it stopped raining (which would have been enough), but the sun came out! Not only that (which thrilled us all to bits), it is 80°!
Louise and I walked to Laurelhurst Park, mostly as an excuse to get gelato which is sort of in the neighborhood. It was, predictably, overrun with pale giddy people in shorts and tee shirts.
We walked around the lake and admired the ducks. When did they put this sign up?
We finally made it to our destination after what felt like hours of walking. Three scoops of gelato later, we all felt better.
I’m very picky about donuts, and don’t like the super sweet cream-filled, frosted or glazed ones. Old-fashioned all the way. The cardamom donuts at Staccato Gelato are seriously to my liking. I could eat them every day. This is not a good thing, but it’s the truth.
Friday morning I was at work and got a text message from Louise. “Meet me outside.” This was weird. I figured she had some big news or something really special to show me. A grandbaby? No, surely I would have seen that one coming. I couldn’t imagine, even as I wracked my brain during the ride down the elevator.
It was raining and cold (hard to fathom today) and I didn’t have my coat on. “Pull around back!” I texted, so I wouldn’t have to get wet. As I saw her car pull up I couldn’t help but notice the slightly smug expression on her face. The window came down and a small white bag was extended in my direction. Donuts!
“Enjoy!” she chirped, taking off again before I could even say a proper thank you. “Thank you!” I shouted to the rear bumper.
It was the sweetest thing, and reminded me of the early days when Louise and I were first together. When I had an overnight shift at the hospital (every third or fourth night), she would often come for a visit and bring Aaron, who was a tiny little baby. Sometimes she brought me a mocha with whipped cream. I had never tasted anything so good or felt more cared for.
Here we are, a lifetime later. I am so grateful every day. This week Louise and I are spending a few days apart, a rare occurrence. I took her to the airport this morning as she set off for a conference in Las Vegas entitled “Hospice Compliance Bootcamp.” She is probably the only person I know or will ever meet who finds this topic fascinating.
I had my hundred in my pocket and thought I might find someone in the departures area for my next recipient. I forgot that you can only park there long enough to unload, and it didn’t seem worth paying to park in the garage. So I went on my way. I decided to stop at New Seasons, which is on my route home. The parking lot was all jammed up but I found a spot by Hot Lips Pizza.
There’s a bus stop there where I’ve hung around before, and a Walgreen’s. I had my eye out. Then I saw two young women sitting on the patio outside the pizzeria. One of them had a Hot Lips tee shirt on and, I figured, was on her break from work. The other was sitting in her lap. They were deep in conversation.
I walked by to check out a guy sitting on the sidewalk in front of Walgreen’s. He had a cardboard sign that said, “Anything green helps.” I saw this sign by a garbage bin the other day and tried to imagine how it ended up there. No longer needed?
I peeked at the young women again and thought about how nice it is to break up the monotony of a workday with a sweet visit from a loved one. I got closer.
“Do you work here?” I asked. “How’s the pizza?” (I’ve only eaten it, like, a hundred times). “Yeah, it’s good,” said the woman with the tee shirt. The other one nodded and smiled, clearly in agreement.
We made small talk for a few seconds, then I told them I was paying forward a gift and handed over the hundred. “Oh, wow! Thank you!” said the woman with the glasses. “I’ve never received anything like this!”
They had a lot of questions about what I was doing and why. They told me their name was Andrea, both of them. That reminded me of a housemate named Andrea from about 30 years ago who put an ad in the college newspaper inviting everyone named Andrea to a party. I shared this story and they smiled kindly. “I bet it was packed!” offered Andrea with glasses.
We talked until it was time for Hot Lips Andrea to go back to work. I learned that she does photography part time and plays drums in a band, which is how the two of them met a couple of years ago. The other Andrea works as a bartender, plays bass in the band, and teaches yoga. Between the two of them, they have an amazing array of skills and talents.
Andrea got up and reached out to shake my hand before heading back into the shop. “What’s your name?” she asked. “Andrea!” I blurted. “Maybe my name is Andrea, too!” “Cool, cause we’re having a party!” joked the other Andrea. We all laughed.
Andrea with glasses and I sat and talked for a while longer. She was sweet, inquisitive and insightful. She said she had no idea what they would do with the unexpected gift. “I’m going to propose that we post it on our corkboard for a while and think about it.”
I’m glad I gave them something to think about. I’ll be thinking about them for a long time.
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