When I moved back to Portland, Oregon after graduation from college, I took a job with a travel agency. Eager to move out on my own, I went apartment hunting with a friend from work. She was white, married to a black man, and lived in a part of town with which I was unfamiliar. I quickly learned, however, that for $90 a month I could rent the entire downstairs of a house in that neighborhood. So, to the distress of some more cautious friends, I moved in.
Paula, my work friend, introduced me to a night scene I never would have found on my own. In particular, she took me to a predominately black jazz club that was upstairs over a downstairs bar. The club closed at the legal time mandated by the state, but then it mysteriously reopened “after hours” to those in the know. I was unfamiliar with jazz, but soon grew to enjoy nursing one brandy for several hours as I listened to a combo and singer. Better yet, at some unearthly hour I could leave with friends and head out to the all night pancake house for breakfast.
I can’t imagine having that kind of energy these days, but I was young and had the weekends off with no responsibility for anyone but myself. I enjoyed the first of many true cross cultural experiences which shaped me in many ways into the person I was becoming. My musical knowledge grew in yet another direction, courtesy once again of a friend. Thanks Paula.