The bus pulled over to the curb. Outside, a woman with bright pink hair was securing a large black pug in its carrier purse.
I smiled. The spot beside me was free. They’re going to sit next to me and when they do, I’m going to strike up a conversation, I willed to the universe.
The woman and her dog climbed onto the bus. Everyone watched as they made their way down the aisle and – sure enough – parked themselves right next to me. The dog stuck its giant nozzle out of the purse. I laughed and asked his name. “Piggy,” she replied.
Piggy was on his way to work. The woman with the pink hair (I forgot to ask her name) ran a doggy daycare on the west side. We talked for a while. I told her about my plan to get my own schnauzer once I’m more settled- a salt and pepper, like Duffy had been.
Fifteen minutes later I said goodbye to piggy the pug, his pink-haired friend and the other characters who had joined the conversation. (Piggy smelled and snorted, but he was still one of the least odd characters on the bus that day)…
The next scene I walked into was a bank. I was there to open a checking account- my first American checking account. It felt like an act of great significance, my first American bank account.
I’m here now.
A few nights later, I found myself lifting an original 1963 Clue board from its pealing box. Around me sat four new friends, two of whom I was meeting for the first time that night. One was a Puttylike lurker who had written to me for the first time a week earlier. (Hi Mike!)
As we hopped from the ballroom to the conservatory, launched lead pipes across the building and suspected each other of horrid crimes, I took a look around.
I did this.
I was in a new city and I was surrounded by friends.
There are friends waving at me from the Treehouse Nursery down the block, friends telling me about the sentimental reason for which they decided not to include their suitcase turntable in their yard sale (shame) and friends serving me steel-cut oatmeal and perfectly sized pots of tea at the coffee shop on the corner.
I connect with more strangers each day than I did in 27 years of living in Montreal. (Mtl has a lot of good traits, but friendliness is not one of them.)
In the morning, there are golden outlines of mountains poking out from the clouds. Roses line every street and the air smells like the country.
All the hard work and dream pursuit, it’s great. But it’s even better when you’re doing it among friends.
Welcome to Portland.
Have you ever arrived some place new and felt like you were home?