05 September 2016

[pdx] Scenes From A Pearl: A Woman On NW Couch St

There is a small covered plaza open to the public on NW Couch Street, south side, between NW 11th and 12th Avenues. It's in the middle of the block, across the street from the main lobby entry to a building called M Financial Plaza, and is properly part of the Brewery Blocks, in the crook of a building called the Brew House Tower.

Blitz Weinhard used to actually produce actual Northwest beer here. I'm both amused and dismayed at myself that Even though I've been hanging around this area of town, off and on, for the last couple of decades … innumerable trips to Powell's Books … the change has been so gradual that even my memory of what it used to be has begun to undergo major slippage.

But this day, which was a day back in June, we sat, The Wife™ and I, sharing a coffee and splitting a 3-pack of some really quite-scrumptious madeleines that we got at the Peet's Coffee there on Couch, next to the Sur le Table. They're very nice at the Peet's, and frequently accomodate us even though we typically roll in there about 15 minutes, give or take, before closing time.

This is our 'Madeleine moment', which we originally did on a lark because we wanted a coffee and we went in there and there they were and I had just commenced reading La recerches du temps perdu. Latterly it seems my spouse is starting to enjoy it more than me. I'll not complain, here. The madeleines are immaculate. And, the Peet's closes at 7 PM on a Sunday, so having this spot to relax and enjoy them is essential.

I noted the woman as we walked into the covered plaza area. She was not easy to miss; attractive young woman, dressed for the weather in a cropped top, short skirt, and attractive legs clad in patterned tights. As I recall, she wore sunglasses with big lenses. Very distractedly urban.

After we sat at a table many feet back of her the scene took on a different aspect. There was something of  alienation there. She seemed very within herself, as she sat on the arm of a chair and desultorily drank from three green bottles of sparking water that she had there. She was quiet, never saying a thing; she was in the world, but it was as though she and the world weren't on speaking terms just at that moment.

Eventually, but not too long after this, she packed up and moved out.

In the center of the block, visible from the little plaza where we drank our coffee and masticated our madeleines, there is a chiminey stack from the old brewery. While parts of the old buildings remain on this block, the vast majority of the buildings there are of new and recent construction and went up when the area was developed in the last decade.

I couldn't help but wonder how many new Portlanders go by that area and think that these buildings must have looked different when they were a brewery. Most of the buildings never were, of course, but I can't help also but think that most people are either too new ot Portland or too disinterested to think that these buildings could ever have been anything but.

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