The trip started in Portland, continued for twelve hours in Los Angeles, and was supposed to wrap up after a two-day drive through the flatlands of California and Oregon.
The goal of this trip was to retrieve Russ from his four-month long stint working for the Hollywood machine in Southern California and bring him back to his home in Portland for good.
My first few hours on the ground in Los Angeles were spent visiting some of our hold haunts from our years in Silver Lake. We went to Dusty’s and saw the menus now covered in plastic, there was a television bolted above the bar and Maria wasn’t the owner anymore. And the woman four bar stools to our right was drunk on her fifth mimosa and talking around the fact that she was married to a very talented–and famous–drummer. And how she’s originally from Seattle (they sold their million dollar home) and would only move to Portland if she wanted to experience 1994 again which she didn’t.
Grunge drummer wife and anti-Portlander dropped so many “my husband, the studio musician/ex-grunge drummer/so in demand all.the.time” hints that I finally asked. I had to. They weren’t really hints, after all, but barely disguised pleas. Turns out her husband was one of the many drummers of Pearl Jam. We, of course, admired her humble approach to letting us know her husband was one of the six drummers of Pearl Jam.
Russ and I owe much of our rock-and-roll drummer knowledge to Spinal Tap. So one of six drummers, although admirable, is nothing to be so adamantly fake modest about, my dear mimosa-drinking-lady-who-complimented-my-dress-so-regardless-I-have-a-fondness-for-her.
We smiled at Mimosa lady, downed our beers and walked up the block to stare at the apartment three stories above our buzzed heads that used to me mine. We drove 1/2 mile down Sunset Echo Park and to the old movie theater/church that is now hipster bar that was begging to be a hipster bar back when we lived there. After a beer among remarkably trimmed beards, we popped in to see Orrin, Stacey and dear Ivaloo who showed us what life was like in toddler world. It’s awesome, by the way.
By 10:30 we were back to Russ’ temporary home: his friend Erin’s place. Another freelancer who was up in Portland shooting a reality show, so it was a sort of reality freelancer time share, really. I opened her french doors to look out at the Observatory and looked down to see the house of the last editor I worked with before our move up to the Northwest.
I texted him a photo of his house. Which I’m sure was not uncomfortable for him. Not at all.
The next morning, we began our 18-hour drive back home to Portland. We stopped at the same landmarks my family always stopped by (mostly rest stops. We pee a lot.) on our summer family road trips from San Jose to Walla Walla.
Lake Shasta and Weed are always my favorites. And not just because I used to be a big fan of smoking the second. The Safeway in town had a real live totem pole! Which I realize now was not real–nor live–and is no longer in front of a Safeway.
But we made it only as far as the brewery in Weed, skipping the totem pole, before driving on for the night.
The next day was longer than the first, but only because Russ’ 10-year old Mini-Cooper lost power as I was driving 70 MPH in pitch black country two hours south of Portland in the middle of farm country.
Those 16 hours included: dinner at the bar of the fancy resort (that means there was a fireplace in the room which is, in fact, fancy) with a mother and son downing Jack and Cokes next to us; car parts that would have to come from Portland–our destination–and would take 24 hours to arrive which was 22 hours more than it would be for us to drive had our car not be all broken; chatting up the mechanic who told us this unfortunate fact (and who found out what we did for a living and packed us into his 1964 pick-up, drove us to his home across the freeway where upon arriving we met his two very talented artist daughters who were–thankfully–really fucking talented), wherein which we exchanged email addresses and promised some meetings with animators we knew; and in the end, being told that, hey, you know what, I can get this car to run without the crazy BMW parts required.
By 3PM we were on the road again with some mechanics that may have not been by the book, but got us back to where we wanted to be. On our way back home. Back to Portland.