I’m in Portland for the weekend, and I really want a damn bagel. I’ve no idea why because bagels in Portland are probably no better than bagels in Los Angeles, but I really want a damn bagel, so I’m on the hunt.
After I drop my stuff off at the hostel, I walk over toward the book festival because that’s ostensibly the reason I’m in Portland for the weekend, Yelping coffee shops as I walk. I look through photos and reviews to see if there are bagels, and, yeah, sure, I could find a bagel shop, but I also want a good espresso drink — I mean, I did have a six a.m. flight, which means I’ve been up since four.
(You just want it all, don’t you, you text.)
I’ll end up going to Case Study three times in two days, and I’ll get bagels twice. They’re not quite like the bagels I love and crave from New York, but they’re good, crispy on the outside, chewy, dense, and soft on the inside. They don’t skimp on cream cheese here either, so I slather each bagel half liberally and start with the top as I always do. (I like the bottom half of a bagel more; the top of a bagel has a more rubbery outside.)
I get the iced hazelnut latte, and I can actually taste the roasted hazelnuts in the drink. When I go back in the afternoon, I get the iced bourbon caramel latte, which is just sweet enough, the caramel with nutty notes. The third and last time I go, I’ll get the iced hazelnut latte — and I’m sure some people must think, You’re traveling, you’re in a different city. Portland has a shit ton of coffee places; why aren’t you trying others?! What’s the point of traveling then? Blah blah blah!
At some point over the last few years, though, my idea of traveling has changed, shifted from a thinking that I need to experience as many different things or eat as many different things as I can. I don’t think I’ve ever been the frenetic kind of traveler who’s hopping from place to place, never slowing down to breathe and enjoy, but I used to feel a fair amount of pressure to see a lot and do a lot and eat a lot, like checking things off a list would mean … what, I don’t know.
Nowadays, I like this slowness. I like finding a place I like and coming back to it again if I want to. I like not feeling the pressure to travel a certain way. Maybe it helps that I’ve been to Portland before, that this is my third time here, but I don’t know — travel is a leisure activity, and I like to slow down and go with how I’m feeling because, hey, this is my time, and being able to sit in a coffee shop and read and write is exactly what I need right now.