Posts tagged ‘powells’

March 13, 2011

spending the night in powells

well! achewood still hasn’t updated, and neither have i. hello again.
yesterday i hopped onto the 4 wearing the gropius bow tie and tennant jacket, all packed up for an afternoon of working at powells on w burnside. i found a spot in the cafe, right in the middle of the cluster. i don’t know if it was being tired, or wearing the bow tie out into town for the first time, but it was difficult to concentrate and i managed only a few pages of sketches before i got self-conscious enough to pack it up and flee to the more sheltered parts of the store. i headed up to the pearl room and plopped down in front of the biographies.
i put the sketchbook on the shelf by my knees and started reading from simon callow’s welles biography the road to xanadu. i flipped to the part on war of the worlds and admired a couple hirschfeld drawings of the fat man, still feeling pretty uncomfortable in my own skin (it is one thing to be a dapper superhero at work but another to be alone in the world feeling that you may just look ridiculous). after twenty minutes i put the book away, did a bit more poking about, and left to go to work. it was a long night; the bow tie was well received as always (bow ties are reliable for this); by the end i was near the point of collapse. i got a ride home from one of the chefs and when i opened my bag i saw that my sketchbook was nowhere to be found. it had been a new sketchbook, so i wasn’t too bothered – three pages of doodles is not a great loss – and i made a note to call the store in the morning to check for it, and buy a new sketchbook if it was gone. then i went to bed.
when you’re exhausted, every dream feels like a fever dream: i went through scenarios of calling the store and getting nothing, and when i awoke i faced the prospect with a decent sense of dread, having been through it subconsciously a few times already. i put on a pot of tea and cursed daylight savings for robbing me of an hour and then dialed the number. eventually the call was routed to the manager; i explained around what time i’d been in, what section he should search, and gave him my information. an hour later i was on the 4 again to go see an old friend for coffee; while the bus bounced and hummed along the phone rang and the manager told me that he hadn’t seen it in their lost and found or in the section on welles. i thought, goodbye little sketchbook, i hardly knew ye…
i switched busses at the hawthorne bridge and headed for the art supply store. they were closed, so i went to meet my friend instead. after we went our separate ways i marched in, threw down a tenner, and departed with a replacement sketchbook under my arm. there was one more thing to do.
i hopped on another bus and soon the tall grey business world of downtown portland rose up before me, and i walked to the city of books. this time there was no pretense of stopping for coffee or playing on the internet; this time i was on a mission. treasure hunting in a bookstore is fun, because while there are a multitude of books around, you are only looking for one of them, with no guarantee it is there at all. i marched up to the pearl room and for a few minutes was unable even to find the right aisle – where was orson? – my eyes scanning everywhere for that particular shade of black amongst so many others.
and then i found the section, and there it was. right where i’d left it. pushed up nicely into the folds of the shelf, probably by a patron. thoughts of some tired and annoyed employees patrolling every damn corridor of that massive store looking for out-of-place books seemed so foolish to me now. i picked it up and looked at the few pages of sketches, like helpless pets who’d spent the night out in the cold. i may have patted it, i don’t remember exactly. then i tucked it firmly under an arm and marched out of the store, like a specter come to claim their last earthly possession before departing forever.