Waterfronts have been eventfulPosted on September 26th, 2007 after 7515 miles by Dean Croshere.
“Is that Champ?”
Champ, like Nessie, is a monster of the deep. The locals like to pretend he is as important as the legend. I doubt it. Champ kind of lacks the long-standing Irish legend aspect that Nessie has. In any case, a strange looking beast like Boxer getting his pictures taken at lake Champlain will bring joking questions like that.
In fact, if you were to tack that question on to the previous conversation that I kept having, it would be the same thing over again.
I likely sounded really tired and dismissive when this nice lady started the same conversation with me.
“You could say that,” I responded to her.
Sure, I’ll roll with the joke.
“What is it really?” She pressed further.
“My school’s mascot.”
“Oh? What school.”
I’ve been over this before. I’ve been over it enough times that it has become tough not to blow people off and be rude.
“Be a people person, Dean.” She had told me back in Oregon, before I left. She was right. I responded cordially:
“Pacific University, in Oregon.”
I have noticed that the further east I travel, the more surprised people seem that I’ve been this far.
“Ohh, I’ve been to Oregon before.”
I almost responded with the answer to the usual next question. The follow up is always, “What is it?” while they gesture at Boxer. The response that that question is, “a Chinese dragon dog.” I stopped myself before opening my mouth. Telling her that Boxer is a dragon dog had little to do with her statement that she had been to Oregon. Now that I think about it, she hadn’t even asked me a question.
“Oh really?” I asked. I figured a question should be asked. Of course, I didn’t really care, I was just trying to be a people person. We were off the usual conversation track and I was winging it. Sometimes people respond to the standard conversation with complete non-sequiters, to keep me on my toes.
For instance, One lady in Detroit asked if Boxer was a goat. “Sure,” I told her. She then proceeded to tell me that she had seen two goats that very day.
“Live ones.” she assured me.
How so very relevant, Detroit lady. This lady, the one currently blazing a new conversational path, wasn’t nearly as bad as the random goat comment lady. We were talking about Oregon and we are now physically far enough from the state that to have simply seen it is an object of discussion.
“Yeah,” she went on “I have a family member who lives in Portland. He makes movies.”
“Portland is a beautiful city.” I responded, still uninterested. In most cases I would be more responsive to someone who appeared to actually want to talk, rather than just fulfill their curiosity and move on. In this case, it was still hot and muggy, I was tired and a little grumpy. Frankly I was feeling sorry for myself. It took a moment, but I caught up with the entirety of what she had said.
Wait a minute.
What did she just say he did?
A filmmaker in Portland?
“Does he find enough work there? I know several filmmakers that find themselves bartending in Portland.”
“He must, he just bought himself a house. He does freelance work, an assistant camera operator for most every commercial shot in Portland. There are only three people that do what he does in Portland.”
Now I was interested.
Just the day before, my host in Middlebury had told me, “You never know when you will need that one person you met while hiking in the middle of nowhere to help you network and find a job. Use your assets.”
The conversation progressed, the lady told me more about this 28-year-old guy doing what I would love to do. I mean, I don’t want to go to Southern California, I really don’t.
I want to stay in Oregon.
I gave her my card, she gave me her card. She took my picture and promised to send it to him. I’ve already emailed her, thanking her for the conversation. I suppose she may load up this site and read this post. I hope she finds that the conversation has been at least somewhat faithfully represented.
Our little talk ended and I finished up with my pictures and loaded Boxer back into my car.
It was time to take a walk and explore the shops near the waterfront. I needed cash to pay for parking (which I never ended up needing to pay) and I decided I could really use a sweetened drink.
I was in a really funky mood now. See, my hosts in Middlebury Vermont were good friends of my parents from 30 years ago. They have two daughters roughly similar to mine. These people love to parent.
God bless mothers and fathers like this, people who will take in any wayward soul in need of some food and a place to stay. They will advise and comfort, feed and provide, and in some cases they can provide all of the above with the right smile or kind word. All they ask in return is the simple promise that such gifts are helpful and needed.
They are, oh they are.
But, like all parents, it comes time to leave. I crossed the state of Vermont (in an hour) to go visit their daughter at the University of Vermont in Burlington.
Burlington is the classic college town. Lots of old slightly run down houses lining slightly worn down streets next to a huge bustling eclectic downtown scene.
The whole town is obviously a college town atmosphere. While I was on the waterfront today I walked by a young guy sleeping upright on a park bench, head back, dopey smile on his face, joint (or possibly a hand rolled cigarette) gripped firmly in his lips. A person like that is only found in a college town. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera with me, I was still scouting where I wanted to take my pictures.
My new host is definitely a college student. She is busy with lots of homework to do, pretend to do, to put off, or simply not do. She lives with four other girls that are all awesome, but busy. Everyone is coming in and out, running to this obligation or that. All day things change as people run around, busy.
“I have to go volunteer.” She told me. It is a class assignment. Last night she ran out to play broomball, a form of hockey played with a broom instead of a stick and tennis shoes instead of skates.
She woke up early this morning to go to class, though she lamented that she strongly considered just not going. She could miss one day.
Yep, that’s college.
I miss it.
I miss the obligations and the frustrations, the assignments and the guidelines, the politics and the parties. Mostly though, I miss the people.
I mentioned earlier that I want to stay in Oregon.
I’m not sure if that’s the case though. I want to stay in school. Unfortunately, school won’t stay around for me. If I go back to Oregon, all the people that I would want to go back for will leave, eventually.
I suppose I have a couple of years of friends there. I could work in Portland for a couple of years, getting some job experience in my actual field. I could hang out with those people still in school while getting a little more prepared to leave, because it is obvious to me that I’m not prepared to leave.
I mean, I was standing on the waterfront in Vermont, on a nationwide road trip, seeing the country and having fun doing it, wishing I was in Oregon.
That guy made it. He is a filmmaker in Oregon.
To say I was in a funky mood is definitely the best I could describe it.
I finally found that sweetened drink I had been looking for. It was in a “market and deli” that was more of a deli then a market. In fact, it was entirely a deli, without a market of any sort. They did sell specialty sodas to go with the sandwiches, including a Vermont Tangerine Cream Twister Soda. A brief glanced proved that it was, indeed, a hippie soda. It promised it had no artificial flavorings or colors. The ingredients list was short and everything was pronounceable, so I believed the natural claim. The soda was clear, so I believed the coloring claim.
It tasted simply delicious. It was just smooth enough to savor the orange flavor, just sweet enough to be a soda, and had next to no salt, so it was refreshing. Not to mention the bottle matched the color of the fallen leaves.
We’re going to Maine tomorrow. Boxer is going to see the Atlantic Ocean, at last.