Portland, OR – “Lost in Space” – The White Eagle – July 9, 1999

We’re in a Wendy’s parking lot in Portland, across from “The Goodnight Inn Hotel,” where none of us slept well. Critters Buggin’ is blaring from the stereo as a tribute to our upcoming drive to Seattle, their hometown. Their album is an air drummer’s delight. Brian and Soucy are grabbing fast food for breakfast, and any second now, they’ll be back to infuse the van with that unmistakable fast food aroma. It’s a stench made of ketchup and beef and bread and butter and sweat. It braids its way into the upholstery and into my hair. Yup, here they come.

Maybe the scent would bother me less if I’d slept better last night. “The Goodnight Inn” had buzzing lights and a sink that dribbled “tap tap tap” against the drain. My room key was attached to a 6-inch iron ball, and a couple fought in the adjacent room while their TV blared.

Chris and I got up early (10 AM) and decided to go for a jog. Working out on the road takes creativity—we bench press beds, jump squat down hallways, and run stairs. I don’t feel safe jogging or rollerblading around unfamiliar neighborhoods by myself, so when one of the guys asks if I want to join them, I jump at the chance. It’s always interesting to see a new neighborhood.

On our run, we passed a cashmere goat farm and a trailer park with a sign that read, “55 years and over ONLY.” Chris, faster than I, ran ahead so that on the way home I was alone. Somewhere between mile three and four I felt someone’s presence and turned to see a kid, maybe fourteen or fifteen, wearing a backward white baseball cap and kicking a stone across the street. When I looked back, he glanced up, and I waved uncomfortably. A rush of fear hit me as I heard footsteps running behind me. I clenched my eyes shut, praying he meant no harm. He slowed down as he caught up.
“Uh…what’s your name? My uh friends want to know,” he stammered.
“Sally,” I replied, surprised.
“My name’s Rex,” he said, turning around and running off. I felt sad that I had to be scared of that sweet young guy.

Back at the hotel, Kenny and I watched “Lost in Space,” the episode with Athena where Dr. Smith has the showdown with the green Viking. I took a shower despite there being no showerhead. Water spit out of a rusting pipe alternating between bitter cold and scalding hot.

It was a relief to play at a familiar joint–and encouraging to watch our audience grow. We’ve come a long way since our first time at The White Eagle. Our band is tighter and we’re looser on stage. Soundchecks are shorter and setlists are longer. We know how to harness enthusiasm and cultivate community from a stage.

In the standing-room-only crowd, we recognized faces from our last time through Portland—an indication people like what we’re doing and are coming back for more. The people in the front sat cross-legged on the floor to accommodate the people in the back. The cozy vibe stood in stark contrast to the alienating, deflating show in Ashland and was a balm for my weary heart. I saw lips singing along with words to my songs and felt connected, comforted and grateful.
Thank you, Portland. Until next time.