Preliminary Notes on Portland, Oregon

Wake up in Canada. Think you’ve missed your flight. Realize you have not. Put on pants and a shirt and a jacket. Go downstairs to the hotel lobby. Smoke a cigarette outside in the wind and the dark. Extinguish it before it’s finished, because you are. Go back up, shower, pack your bag, meet your boss in the lobby at 6:30. Drive to the airport in Victoria. On the way, listen to her jokes, or, as she calls them, her “rambling.” That’s more like it. Pretend to laugh. Park the rental car. Print your boarding pass. Go through security in Canada and watch the sun rise over the mountains on Vancouver Island.

Fly to Seattle for 25 minutes. Need to pee. Go through customs. When the man who finally lets you through says, “Welcome home,” feel a swell of gratitude for a moment, and then put on your shoes, say goodbye to your boss, wish her well with her mother, and find a bathroom.

Think about vomiting, but do not. Instead, go outside and smoke a cigarette. Go back through security. Silently critique the passengers in front of you for their readiness, or lack thereof, to handle airport security. Take off your shoes, belt, jacket, scarf in one fluid motion. Empty your pockets. Put your laptop in a separate bin. Imagine all the people who admire your mastery of TSA protocols.

Fly to Portland. Rent a car. Eat lunch. Buy new sneakers, because your old ones kind of smell.

Go to the house you’re staying at. Smoke a couple of cigarettes on the back porch. Walk to a strip club. Remind yourself that third-wave feminism thinks of sex workers as empowered, so that you don’t feel too gross about the whole thing. Be the only person there, pretty much. Tip the women well. Talk to one of them at the bar. Get two lap dances from her. Tell her, truthfully, that it would have been better to have met her outside of the context of a strip club.

Leave.

Say hello to your friends who are hosting you. Smoke a cigarette or three again. Wait for the taxi. Get in the taxi. Go to the restaurant. Wait for the client. If he is 20 minutes late, continue to wait. Order soup when he arrives — he will have salad. Eat flounder. Allow the woman sitting next to you to interrupt you after dinner. Take the client’s suggestion to continue this show at another venue. Invite the woman sitting next to you.

Buy the three of you some drinks. Order a diet coke for yourself. Sit outside and listen to the rain and talk about various psychedelic experiences you’ve had amongst yourselves. Listen to the rain. Listen to it. When it’s getting late, and the woman has gone to the restroom, tell the client that you’ll pay for his cab home. Allow him to insist that he’ll walk, as it’s good for his health. When he leaves, make out with the woman a bit at the bar. Then get a hotel room. Then fuck her until you both fall asleep.

Rise with the alarm she set for her job interview at 11:00. If it’s 6:30 and you have no place to be until 3:00, get up anyway. Watch her get dressed. Admire her tits as she puts her bra on. Tell her that she’s going to do great today. Let her rub your back as she kisses you goodbye on the balcony. When she’s gone around the corner, never to be seen again, say to yourself:

“Happy Valentine’s Day.”

And finish your cigarette.

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