The Love of Strangers

I just spend a week in Portland.

I met some of the most interesting people, and saw some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. 

One night, the boyfriend and I went to a wine bar, and met a woman named Sam. It was a tiny place. It was warm and welcoming, and so we sat at the bar.

I'm always one for conversation.

So, we talked with Sam for the majority of our evening there. She was a mother of two small girls, lived in the suburbs, but worked in Portland. She grew up all over the country (her Dad kept climbing the corporate ladder.) I forgot where she went to college. But she did join the Peace Corps after - and was stationed in Honduras. We laughed about her stories from her time there. And we laughed about her fears about her daughters becoming teenagers. And we laughed about politics. And we laughed about life.

There was a lot of laughing. 

I'll never remember the color of the paint of the walls of that bar.

I don't remember the name of the wine we drank.

But I'll remember Sam. Her warmth. Her laugh. The floral print shirt. I'll remember her stories.

Because experiences are what sticks. Shared laughs and smiles. Moments of connection. 

Portland was filled with beautiful people and places.

Open souls who took the time to talk to two strangers from New York - and there was something so beautiful about that.

Tragedy struck when we were in Portland. Two brave souls, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky John were murdered as they defended two teenage girls.

I'll never understand the need to hurt another soul. I don't get the desire to inflict pain on another. It just doesn't compute in my brain.

But I can't stop thinking of them who stepped up when they were needed. Strangers standing beside strangers, in solidarity of something bigger than them - fills me with something I can't quite describe. Bone sadness for their loss, and yet, hope for the goodness in humans. 

I read an article that said that Talisesin's last words were - tell everyone on this train that I love them.

Tell everyone on this train that I love them.

Dear Lord, what a beautiful soul.

Laying in a pool of his own blood - that's' what he says. Tell everyone on this train that I love them. I love them. I love them. I love them.

Love.

Even in the darkest moments, love is what we hold onto. Love is what makes the dark less scary. Love is what leads us to light.

Everywhere you go in Portland it seemed that there were public displays of love. Movements against hate. Celebrations of all people. For all people. And love.

Love was everywhere you looked, and though there will always be people who hate, I hope the heartbeat of Portland pulses with love. 

I hope we can all carry the love of these brave men and this city with us - I hope we hold it close in the days ahead, and let it lead us on in the darkest of nights. 

I hope our ability to love will always trump our instinct to hate.