Wandering the streets of Portland, or what I did on my vacation

I have a confession. As I’ve grown older, I don’t like to travel. And neither does Jenny Lawson because she said so in her book Furiously Happy, which I read during my vacation. But then she is crazy. In a good, hilarious way of course.

Anyway, my most recent travel adventure didn’t involve an airplane, saving me some anxiety, but it did mean flying solo while husband, Patrick, was orienting to his new job in Portland. I tagged along, and unfortunately, his lodging was in South Portland at a Hampton Inn instead of The Press, a luxury hotel in the quaint Old Port section of the city.

The Press would have been ideal for me, giving me a convenient location to take a break throughout the day from my strenuous activities of eating, shopping, and searching for clean bathrooms.

This maple, bacon potato donut was worth every calorie.

You could argue I had the same option at the Hampton Inn, but did I mention I hate to drive? And how boring would it be to dilly dally at a Hampton Inn for hours? So I traipsed around Portland impersonating a homeless person, except I wore nice clothes, was mostly clean and had money for food.

It was hard.

One day I bought a crepe for my lunch and sat on a stool in the window watching an artist on Monument Square painting an elaborate henna design on someone’s hand. My fantasy about shocking Patrick with a snake ‘tattoo’ on my forearm was interrupted by the woman beside me who made street people eating garbage look appetizing.

She was guzzling a gooey crepe with her fingers and had chocolate smeared on her face. I wanted to yell, “Why don’t you use the plastic ware that was free with the meal, and do you know how to use a napkin?” But I was so disgusted, I was afraid if I opened my mouth I would lose my lunch, making me grosser than her.

After walking miles of city streets, I sought respite on benches, and there was keen competition for shaded areas. When the homeless people congregated in the best spots, I got the message and sat in the sun giving them sad, sweaty looks.

Staying hydrated had me on the prowl for clean bathrooms that were free, unlike the elitist Starbucks that had a combination lock on the door with a note, ‘purchase required.’ I wondered where the other vagrants went, especially when stores and the library weren’t open.

All the walking, eating and sitting in the sun made me tired, and I looked with envy at those who were napping in the park. I didn’t dare go to sleep with my purse as a pillow for fear someone would rob me, but I considered reclining on the cushy, sectional sofa at the Portland Museum of Art.

Apparently, I’m not the only one to fancy this, since the sofa was across from the desk where museum employees offered constant surveillance. And if that wasn’t inhibiting enough there was a giant painting with a woman’s face peering onto the exact spot I picked for my afternoon siesta.

Her glare ruined my perfect napping spot.

On a positive note, they do have nice bathrooms, but I had to pay a $15 admission fee to access them. On a side note, I farted in the fourth-floor exhibit, which puts new meaning to the phrase, ‘artsy-fartsy.’ Also, it echoes.

The gulls were not impressed, but they were stuck and couldn’t leave.

I enjoyed the buskers performing in the city. I tried to make a go of it myself but when I outstretched my arms and started singing ‘The hills are alive with the sound of music,’ everyone moved away from me like I was crazy. But in a good, hilarious way of course.

What did you do during your vacation? How do you feel about traveling?

Molly Stevens

About Molly Stevens

Molly Stevens arrived late to the writing desk but is forever grateful her second act took this direction instead of adult tricycle racing or hoarding cats. She was raised on a potato farm in northern Maine, where she wore a snowsuit over both her Halloween costume and her Easter dress.