Every Monday that the weather is nice, people gather at Summers Park to enjoy the last few hours of sunshine playing Frisbee, hula-hooping, slack-lining, juggling, doing yoga, smoking weed, standing on heads, and playing an adult version of Airplane. You know, that game you played as a kid when you’re dad would lie on his back, put the soles of his feet on your squishy belly and send you flying into the air. It’s essentially that, but between thirty year old hippies. Yes, Funday Monday or Monday Funday, never sure of the order, is a word-of-mouth event big enough to make drivers at the red light turn and stare.
The sight of Monday Funday is astonishing – the shear density of hippies being weird in a condensed about of green space. From the outside looking in, it seems like a bunch of people having a picnic. But zero in on individuals, you realize each is in their own world. It’s not a bunch of people juggling together—it’s a bunch of jugglers that happen to be three feet away from each other. They could stand alone or together.
Taylor and I attended Monday Funday for the first time on accident. We go to the park all the time, because it’s one block from our house. On the first beautiful Monday of Spring, we sat in the shade offered by a big spunky tree and wondered, what the hell is going on here?
Eventually some shirtless dude with nipple piercings approached us, probably having sensed our newbie vibes, and asked if we’d ever been to Monday Funday before in that slow, sleepy hippie voice.
Now that we’re in the loop (now that we’re cool) we attend Funday Monday when we can. We always observe from the outside and never stay too late. The nipple dude told us that when the sun goes down, everyone gathers on the tennis courts to play a giant game of dodge ball, which is something I don’t want to be present for.Portland is a city of lost toys. There are so many characters I witness daily doing something that can only be justified by shaking my head like, “Portland, man.” For example, there is a man that bikes with no arms. A stick-like apparatus connects his chin to the handlebars, and his long empty sleeves whip behind him in the wind like a superhero cape. It’s amazing.
Everyone in Portland is thirsty for something, even if that thing is a cold beer. For many it’s a place to be themselves. Portland is the most visibly queer city I’ve ever been to. Some might be here for the incredible music scene, to start a business, to smoke weed freely, to enjoy the outdoors scene, the beer scene, or the rain, but it all derives from a universal wanting. The thirst is contagious – if you aren’t a part of it, you aren’t Portland. Portland protesters want to stop the increasing rent, decreasing space, and failing infrastructure. Portland newspapers want Bernie Sanders, better bike lanes, and fewer cars. But not everyone agrees. There are still way too many cars and people who insist on driving them. Yesterday on my bike I was flipped off by a hot-pink fake finger-nailed woman in a passenger seat, who failed to communicate in a healthy way her contempt for bikers, and probably sucks at life.
Portland natives want everything to stop. Nostalgic for the prePortlandia days, the days Portland was weird but not Urban Outfitters weird. It pains them to watch their favorite dive bar be run over by another local brewery filled with drunk tweeting twenty-somethings. Their wanting is a sadness, a sticky resentment, deep in their bones.
I, of course, am new to it all, slowly sinking my teeth in, getting my feet wet. Still discovering whether I fit in, or whether the point of Portland is to not. Portland is not yet my home, and at times I still feel like a visitor. I’m not sure where my relationship with the city is going, but I am enjoying life here very much. Portland has a way of making it’s people feel like a part of something bigger, even if right now, the only thing I am a part of is weekly Monday Funday.