It was Amanda's idea and I'm so glad she had it.
This is Amanda:
You may remember her and her starring role as my doula for Lyra's birth in Mexico.
If you don't know that story, it is worth a read here.
"We should go on a getaway without our husbands or are kids. What do you think?" she asked.
I pulled up a tab on Travelocity and asked her when we were leaving.
We had three months from the time we purchased tickets until we finally met up. Amanda said we should challenge ourselves to be able to do 100 push ups a day by the time we met each other in Portland.
While we can't do 100 push ups in one go, we are able to do 100 in a day. In fact we both got so good at push ups that we bumped the challenge to 200 a day. Now that was something we really had to work at.
Amanda took a train from Vancouver (and a ferry from Pender Island). I took a non-stop from San Diego.
During the day we walked and walked and walked.
Those dildos in the sky are actually a thing in Portland. More on this "free expression of joy" here.
Amanda is not only a doula, she is a child-birth educator, AND a beekeeper. Naturally then, we followed the huge sign we saw on the sidewalk one day that pointed us toward ------------> MEAD.
Fun fact: Mead does not come from a winery or a brewery. It comes form a meadery, people. It just makes sense.
Phrases we heard while tasting chocolate heaven:
"The mint comes from a third-generation mint farm just outside the city."
"This is from a local. She extracts the passion fruit flavor from actual plants versus using essential oils."
"If you buy Jacobsen Sea Salts [hand-harvested in Portland] at a retail store though, don't expect the salt to be this spicy. We add a little extra oomph."
Our host was Jessica of Jessica J Consulting and ladies, if you are looking for a life coach, she comes highly recommended. Jessica lives smack-dab in the city and has a stunning guest room to boot. Amanda and I were so grateful for this kid-free, man-free (no offense to awesome husbands), zenned out zone.
In the evenings the three of us danced, drank, ate carbs, and reveled in being able to finish whole thoughts and speak in uninterrupted sentences. Sometimes moms need a break. This was a GREAT break.
When three clear-eyed, square-shouldered, gorgeous women walk into a bar or restaurant together you will inevitably get asked what the hell is going down that evening. I liked to smile demurely and respond that we all owned Subarus, but Jessica and Amanda were quick to explain further.
What does give certain women that twinkle in their eye?
Is it the push ups?
A PASSIONATE LOVE FOR DARK CHOCOLATE?
(Because all of these things, including the Subaru-ownership is true for all of us.)
And while you can't see their faces directly here, the sparkle is intense in Bethany's daughters' eyes too. That's Hannah on the sax, and Meira holding the music. Meira also plays the cajón, or any convenient Harry Potter book can work as percussion in a pinch too. (Don't believe me? Watch her playing a book in the video below).
Perhaps it is music? We all love music.
I give you our impromptu choral singing on the streets of Portland after brunch one day:
If you haven't guessed my theory yet, the unifying aspect for me is that we are all sailors.
We are female sailors and female sailors are something else. They are women who sing, and dance, and have children. AND they are women that know the sea. They adventure. They are incredibly competent and perceptive. And happy.
Sailing women are a happy, giving bunch.
If you are a sailing woman, or aspire to be one, join Women Who Sail. It's a fantastic group of supportive female sailors. You'll like it.
I'd be remiss to not give a shout out to Bryan, Bethany's husband. He was one of the only two gentlemen who hung out with us this weekend and like the ladies present, Bryan's got it too. There is an alertness in sailors' eyes that I see in very few others. He also recorded our singing session, and snapped photos when Amanda and I met Jessica's neighbors and asked them if they'd like to do a bunch of push ups with random strangers (us) right in that very moment.
The neighbors obliged and Bryan documented it. Hey, I've got to get those 200 push ups in any way I can.
Just doing our part to Keep Portland Weird.
Oh, and the other guy we hung out with? He was a hilarious Marine Corps helicopter pilot named Jesse, but don't worry, we weren't being untrue to our men, the handsome pilot was there with his ultra-marathoner date, Alyssa. She was training to run a race that is 8 MARATHONS BACK-TO-BACK.
Yeah, its not just sailors with sparkles in their eyes; it is anyone who is really squeezing the fuck out of life every chance they get.
Okay, maybe a Wonka gif is a bit much, though I'm feeling robust lately, so let's just roll with it.
Our exploration of the city lasted for several colorful days.
The most rejuvenating part of this trip was Amanda's exuberance about life and the exhilaration of traveling sans family ties. It was just me, my thoughts, my friend, and her wondrousness. And we both could do and explore as we liked. It made me feel nostalgic for the abundant adventures of my twenties in Europe, Mexico, and Nicaragua.
Amanda and I WILL be doing this again, though it'll be another city to conquer when we are ready.
Thanks to Amanda and Jessica. To Bethany, Bryan, Hannah, and Meira. To Yoni at Victory Bar and to that incredible ultra-marathoner, Alyssa, and the Marine Corps pilot, Jesse, for making our trip one for the record books.
We're gonna keep doing push ups every day and now we're adding pull ups to the repertoire. We shall bring our buffness to the next city soon.
PS - if you are in Portland anytime until the 28th of August, I encourage you to go see Claire Willet's play, Dear Galileo. It opened the night we left and has been met with wonderful reviews. I know Claire from an online writer's group and I have to tell you, I'd jump at the chance to see her work, though I hear that her shows are selling out, so go-go-go if you can!