In 1997, I moved to Portland. Living in an apartment-white room with carpet that hadn’t been changed since 1973 and showed it, I tried to cobble together a life here. I was a little homesick, unemployed and quite lonely; I didn’t know anyone in the city and I had left my hometown in no small part because of heartbreak.
You know the story; boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy moves to another town to get away from his heartbreak.
Staring out this window of the Bridgeport brewpub on Hawthorne while sitting at the bar, I could see the top of a pine tree, broken. Quite literally, the top quarter of the tree was at a ninety degree angle from the trunk. But it still hung on, steadfast, refusing to topple.
I felt an affinity for that tree. Raised my glass to it, as often as I was able. In the way of many guys, I didn’t seek out the tree; I just gave it a nod. Sometimes I thought the pine would sway back, acknowledging; yup. We’re in the shit, but we endure, damnit. We endure.
I miss that tree.
Oh sure, time moves on. I may be unemployed but I have some friends now. The tree has decided it should no longer be a danger to others. We don’t see each other anymore; our paths had to go in different directions.
I loved him, and he was a tree. He loved me, but was dangerous to others. You know the story. Boy meets tree, tree is declared a menace to society, boy says ‘you just don’t understand it like I do’, tree is cut down.
The Bridgeport hasn’t changed much in 13 years. New artwork on the walls because that’s what hip places do (but it’s really good art so I don’t complain). New beers on tap-spurred on by the microbrewing revolution-so I’m able to enjoy a Highland Scottish Ale, which is surprisingly good. Toffey flavors that edge into porter territory, with a light effervescence that keeps it bouncy on the tongue. I think I might even have two.
I know why I don’t come here more often; the lighting. Too dim to play cards in but it’s pretty good for conversation. Not Bailey’s good, but close. And a bar that a person can really lean on, get comfortable at. During the day however, it’s a fantastic joint and I prefer to come here then, like I used to. Look out the windows to see if I can catch an old friend and say hello.
We still endure, damnit.