When the morning came, I opened my eyes, and light spilled into the little dorm room. I could feel the cool Oregon air coming in through the window. With the breeze, a glimmer of hope drifted in. As I looked around the room, I decided to try and make the best of it. Class was starting that day and this is what I had been preparing for since last October, my animal law classes.
After getting dressed, I nibbled on a few snacks I had laying around, gathered my school things, and I headed off to class. I had forgotten my hoodie at home on the morning of my flight, so I made a mental note to get one from the bookstore since it was wonderfully chilly every morning. As I headed down all of the stairways, hills, twists and turns of the terrain, I realized just how beautiful Portland was. The dorm where I was staying was at the top of a hill and the law school was at the bottom about half a mile down. My school was in the middle of a forest which made for a beautiful stroll down to the law school every morning. Each morning of my walk down, I took a different route and enjoyed looking at the buildings of the school, looking at the flowers and trees, and breathing that clean, crisp Oregon air.
On the first day of class, when I got down to the school, I had a feeling of excitement, butterflies. I was here. I was standing at the school that I had looked at online and in brochures. I had finally made it and everything was going to be ok. I found my building and as I was looking for my class, I saw a man coming down the stairs. I asked the man if he could help me find the room I was looking for. He replied, “Well you must be in my class.” At that moment, I could have kicked myself. This man way my teacher… but he wasn’t just any run of the mill law professor. He is the founder and president of a major animal rights organization, he has written multiple books, been interviewed on CNN, etc, been in a major movie about his work. This man is a celebrity and I just asked him where my class was! He turned out to be one of the most fascinating people I have ever met. He was silly and goofy and so down to earth. He had a kind heart and is one hell of an animal lawyer. He asked me where I was from and got to know me a bit before class started. Such an honor!
As the other students started to come in and sit down, I noticed a girl sitting a few seats down from me looking at me and smiling. I finally looked at her and she knew my name and asked if “it was me”. “Ummmm, yes”, I answered. Who was she and how did she know me? She told me her name and said that another girl, who she was friends with would be so excited to meet me. Again, what?!? Then she told me that the woman who awarded me my scholarship (I wrote about it a few blogs ago), had told her about me. (I would be having lunch with the woman the next day). When the other girl arrived, she was indeed so happy to meet me and honestly, I felt so comforted to have met such kind souls. Both of these girls were filled with so much love and light. They told me that after class they wanted to get my number and we could get together during my time there. When the class was over, the girls and I were chatting and another girl joined in. The three of these girls became everything to me over my time there.
Over the next two weeks, these girls arranged to take me all over Portland. One of my first outings was with Marta*. She and her equally sweet husband took me to have lunch at a little funky vegan restaurant. I ordered mac and cheese and biscuits and gravy! Next, we decided that we wanted to get some dessert! There is an area in Portland that has tons of food trucks, one of which is a dessert truck called “Back to Eden”. Portland is a vegan wonderland so most of the food trucks were vegan. We drove up to this perfect little neighborhood and parked on the side of the road and as we were walking down to the food truck area, I noticed something very special about this neighborhood. It had community vegetable boxes. Residents could come and take what they wanted from the boxes and I assume that they all contributed to it! How cool is that?!? When we arrived at the food truck there were so many options: tarts, little pies, brownies, cupcakes, and vegan soft serve. I decided on a perfect little strawberry lemon cupcake, vegan of course!
After we were pleasantly stuffed, my sweet friends took me to a bookstore called Powell’s City of Books. It’s a huge bookstore with multiple floors and rooms. Each floor is filled from ceiling to floor with books. It even had a rare book room that had first editions of so many phenomenal books. As my friends and I walked around the store chatting like we were the oldest and dearest friends, I was fully aware of how full my heart was the whole time. This girl just accepted me as her friend, no questions asked. She took the time out of her life to take me around because I had been so miserable in the dorm. How amazing is it to find people like that? I don’t even think that I am that kind-hearted. Thank God for her!
Our last stop of the day was at Trader Joe’s. I picked up some kombucha and rainier cherries to have as a snack later. After I got back to my room, I hurried up and took a shower before it got too dark. I did that most nights because the dorm was creepy as hell and of course, I let my mind run wild with all kinds of crazy thoughts. Basically, just scaring myself for nothing.
The next week, Marta*was not able to join us; however, the other two sweeties, Breanna* and Randi*, took me to have vegan burgers and shakes at Next Level Burger after school one day. It’s inside a 365 Whole Foods store. The burgers were so incredibly, delicious that I was actually scared that it was not vegan but to my delight, it was! I also had tots and a hot cakes coconut milkshake. WOW! That shake was the best tasting thing ever! After we ate our food, we walked around the grocery store and checked out some of the cruelty-free cosmetics. While we were talking about vegan deodorant (LOL), I was aware again that my heart was so full. Never in my life have I been showered with such kindness. They, just like Marta* days before, were talking with me like we were the oldest and dearest friends. What did I ever do to become so blessed with these amazing, beautiful girls?
A few days later, all four of us went to the vegan mini-mall! If you are ever in Portland, check it out because it is amazing! There is a vegan clothing shop called Herbivore, a vegan cafe called Sweet Pea, a vegan grocery store called Food Fight, and a vegan tattoo shop called Scapegoat! Heaven basically. We were all so hungry after school so we had lunch at the little cafe. I had been eating crazy things all week so I opted for the hummus and veggie plate which was perfect! After lunch we headed over to Herbivore! I picked up a few things for myself and a few things for my mom. After that, we went over to the vegan grocery store. It was so nice to be able to shop and not have to stand there forever and check the labels. There were all sorts of things there… even vegan rat traps. Lol How lovely is it that we would be kind to even the smallest life?!? I picked up vegan candy bars, chips, and breakfast buns.
Later that week, it was Randi’s* birthday. So we all decided to go out to celebrate. When I got back from school, I rode the bus to a local store and picked up a gift for her. Later that evening, Marta* came by to pick me up and we headed to a vegan tiki restaurant called No Bones. It was a cheesy, ridiculous restaurant which I am totally in love with! The food was great and the atmosphere was even better; the cutest beach bar in the middle of downtown Portland. I remember feeling kind of sad when I was there. I knew my time in Portland was coming to an end in a few days. My heart was still full though.
The day before the class ended, my professor wanted us to go out to eat as a class. I rode with the girls to a restaurant called Native Foods. It was in a town called Tigard. We all sat outside and ate and listened to the wonderful stories of my professor who is endlessly fascinating. I ordered a “chicken” sandwich and fries. It was so delicious, to this day I still think of it and cannot wait to go back and have another one. The girls dropped me off at my room so that I could get some rest because later that night there was a film screening which my professor would be speaking at.
Marta* picked me up again and we headed to pick up some other friends for a quick bite before the presentation and film screening. As we drove through the streets, I was so thankful that I got to experience Portland as a local. Most people travel and experience places as a tourist; however, I think that it is better to experience places as a local so that you can have a real experience. I love to know how others live. Anyway, when we got to the theater, I was thrilled. It was an old theater with so much charm, very vintage. I got a little popcorn and a soda and snuggled down into my seat. I knew this was my last night in Portland. As I sat around all my friends, I was filled with so much love and happiness but I knew I would be leaving my newly appropriated little life the next day. After the screening, my professor spoke and answered a series of questions. The woman who was interviewing him wanted some of his students to say something. She came down to the row that we were sitting on and handed me the microphone, I nervously passed it down and each person must have been just as shy as I was because before I knew it, I was holding the microphone again. I mustered up all of my courage and told the theater full of people what I had learned in my animal law class. :)
When I got back to my room it was dark. I ran and took the fastest shower anyone has ever taken and went to bed. As I said before, the place was creepy and I usually liked to go to bed before it got dark. It would get dark in Portland between 9:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. so most nights I was in bed by that time.
Now, I know what you are thinking, no I did not run all over Portland with my friends eating. Lol It seems like a lot of eating but I was there a while and on days that we went out to eat, it was usually the only meal I had all day. Other days when we didn’t go out to eat, I did ride the bus to the grocery store and pick up things to eat in my room. There was a bus stop right outside my room so it was convenient to catch the bus and go down to the Fred Meyer store. Sometimes I ate breakfast in the dining hall. It was fantastic. The hall looked like something out of the Jetsons. It was beautiful and the food was cheap and delicious.
This was basically my day-to-day life in Portland. I did have some amazing adventures that were so special, they deserved their own posts. So stay tuned for those posts that are coming soon.
*Names changed for anonymity.