The Portlandiest Thing I’ve Ever Witnessed in my Entire Portland Existence
Coffee shops are my jam. I’m a big fan of ambiance, and without fail, a positive vibed java shop gets my creative juices flowing. There’s something about the harmonious combination of small talk, coffee grinding, and Jack Johnson-esque music playing in the background that just warms my soul. On top of that, I love the people. Each person is casually yet intently, secludedly yet communally immersed in a conversation, work project, book, etc.
I’m fond of coffee shops across the nation, but Portland is especially invigorating because it hosts the widest breed of people imaginable. Every excursion onto the streets of Portland I anticipate seeing at least one bearded lady riding a unicycle, with a pet alpaca-or something equivalent in weirdness. I have similar expectations for coffee shops. And on this particular visit, I witnessed one of the most Portlandy things I’ve ever seen. Having spent all but two years of my life in Portland I am very aware of the boldness of this statement, but I stand by my word. And I’d like to share my experience with you all.
Upon entering the coffee shop, I scanned the entire premise to strategically pick my ultimate seating area. At the top of my list of seating requirements are comfortable chair, high quality air flow (not too hot, not too cold), lighting (preferably natural), positive vibes (based off of the feeling in my soul) and people-watching visibility.
After evaluating my options based on the above criteria, I settled for an extra cushiony chair in the back corner. To the left of me was a side table, separating another comfy chair. It was occupied by a nice, semi-nerdy looking guy, whom I later learned went by Mike. Across from us, were two chairs facing our way, as if to facilitate a social gathering. The guy adjacent to me was an ordinary looking business man who was working on his laptop. He’s irrelevant in this story, but deserves a shoutout.
The guy across from Mike was a bleach blond, lip-ringed 24 year-old who repped a three-sizes too large white V-neck, saggy cargo pants, purple nike high tops, and a red backwards baseball cap. I can only hope one of his friends has nominated him to be a participant on an upcoming episode of “What Not To Wear.” I didn’t catch his name, but for the sake of the story let’s call him Volcom. Volcom started chatting up Mike. From my dutiful eavesdropping, I gathered that both of these guys were fairly new in town and looking to make friends. After the generic, What’s your name?-how old are you?-where are you from?-what do you do? exchange, Volcom asked Mike if he had a Facebook. A bit forward for my taste, but I admired his style. Mike did indeed have an account, and within a minute, they made their friendship “Facebook official.”
They started talking about girls and Volcom exclaims “oh no dude I’ll Facebook you this story!” So they then resorted to communicating back and forth via Facebook, even though they were sitting a mere three feet across from one another. Every once in a while, they would make eye contact and chuckle. Hold upppp…what has this world come to!?? Technology has overpowered our lives to the extent that people can’t even have an in-person conversations in-person anymore? What a shame.
No longer able to listen in on their conversation, I continued working on my laptop. I was in the midst of responding to an email, when this skinny jeaned, dreaded, light brown skinned man paced behind my chair. He plopped a brass cooking pot on the coffee table in between Mike and I, and then proceeded to sit down on the floor. First off, personal space invaded. Secondly, since when is it it normal to sit on the floor of a coffee shop (answer: in Portland). And thirdly, what on Earth is in that pot? Admittedly, my initial thought was that there was some sort of illegal drugs brewing up in there.
He quickly answered the question for me, uncovering the lid. “Alright man, here we go…”, He reached into the pot and extracted a heaping handful of, none other than….alfalfa sprouts. I laugh out loud, extremely confused about what was going on. He then dug into his pocket and began unraveling a wad of paper towels. Amidst the paper was a ginormous seed-filled cracker. He pulls out yet another container full of hummus and lathers it onto the cracker.
After the preparation was complete, he explained, “Alright this has got all that goody good stuff. It’s got that sprouted flax seeds, sprouted chia seeds, sprouted buckwheat, sprouted sesame seeds. You let all that goodness soak overnight and pull out all it’s nutrients. It’s like a health infusion man! Take one bite of this and it’ll get all that bad s#!t out of your system. It’s like liquid fiber man, coursing through your veins!”
Without a word, the guy got up and went to retrieve something. Meanwhile, Volcom and I both stared at the conspicuous creation, completely dumbfounded.
Thankfully, Volcom broke the tension asking “Yo, who is that guy?” Mike casually explained that his name is Christian and he’s a homeless guy who has been trying to get him to eat healthier for the past few months.
Before I had time to process this information, Christian returned. “Wait man, I forgot the spices and juniper berries!” He sprinkled the final missing ingredients atop the sprouts and waited for Mike to take a bite. Bless Mike’s soul, he took a bite and pretended to like it.
A few moments later, Christian bid Mike farewell and offered one last parting sentiment, “Dude tomorrow you are going to wake up feeling like whaaaa!?”
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This exchange all happened way too fast for me to process my sentiments at the time, but I’ve now fully dissected its significance. Christian; a wholesome homeless man, who sprouts his own seeds and grains in a brass pot, and chooses to spend whatever money he has on juniper berries and exotic spices. Mad respect all around. This is why I love Portland. People follow their passions, however unconventional they may be. Everyone is friendly (Mike and Volcom are now lifetime Facebook friends), accepting of each person’s uniqueness (all three guys embraced the weirdness), and open to trying new things (Mike gave Christian’s concoction a taste). Portland is the ultimate platform for success. The city allows people to openly convey their true thoughts and pursue their passion. And because of this I have no doubt that Christian is going to positively impact and promote healthy habits across the the Rose City , one alfalfa sprout at a time.
Keep Portland Weird ya’ll! It’s good to be back.
ps. I have officially begun my search to find my favorite Portland coffee shop. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!