I said goodbye to Cannon Beach on Monday. After a month of sunshine, I woke to a chilling rain, which seemed appropriate.
My friends went to town for breakfast while I finished up laundry and looked at the forest a thousand more times. Megan, my neighbor in the cottage, came by to bring me tomatoes. Tears fell when I hugged her goodbye.
We drove the Scenic Highway to Portland and then Mike and Kelly dropped me off at Powell’s Books to wallow in happiness while they hiked around Multnomah Falls. I assured them that it didn’t matter how long they hiked, that I’d be just fine at the book store.
After taking it all in for an hour or two I was contemplating paying $36.00 for a poster when I turned and nearly bumped into someone. Not any someone, but Toffer.
I’d met Toffer at Sweet Basil's Cafe in Cannon Beach, where he was our server. I was out to dinner that night with new friends Roslynn and Tonia, who had come from California to meet up at the beach.
The dinner and company were excellent and so was Toffer’s service. Sweet Basil’s is not a place where you rush through a meal to get to your next activity. It’s an experience to be savored, slowly, over good conversation. After our desserts, Toffer sat and talked with us for a bit and traded contact information, assuring us that he is not one who asks and then never makes contact.
I saw Toffer once more, when I took more friends to the restaurant for chocolate pecan pie. The only seats available were at the bar, so he couldn’t take care of us, and he was too busy to chat.
So back to Monday night: I bumped into Toffer at Powell’s. He took my arm and said, “Come. We’re going for wine.”
He chose some magazines for his flight the next day and got in line while I stepped outside to text Kelly and tell her I was being kidnapped but wouldn't go far. They would find me after the hike.
Toffer appeared and took my arm again, saying we’d just make one stop along our way. We popped in to a shop, where he went to the counter and chatted with an employee while I browsed. When he was done he found me and led the way to dressing rooms, where he handed me a lacy blouse and a necklace.
“Put them on,” he said, "I bought them for you."
And so I did. But uh-oh, this meant fancy. I was still wearing the jeans and flip flops I'd put on that morning, and my hair had gotten wet and frizzy. Any makeup and other helpers were in the trunk of Mike and Kelly's car somewhere near a waterfall.
We retrieved a shopping bag for the old sweatshirt I’d had on and Toffer asked about shoes – could I walk cross town in heels? I had to stick with the pink flip flops, but from my waist to my neck I didn’t look too bad.
Toffer jaywalked me the rest of the way to The Nine’s Hotel, where we took the elevator to the 18th floor restaurant, Departure. The outdoor patios were closed, but just inside the glass walls were deep blue sofas waiting for us. Nobody else was there, presumably because there was no service in the lounge. You had to walk a few steps to the bar to order.
At the bar Toffer handed me a menu, and said to choose food, as he’d already selected wine. I decided on the chicken and shrimp spring rolls and went to claim the sofa with the best view. The city, the mountains, the river...it was stunning.
Toffer returned with a bottle of pinot noir from Lange Vineyards that was perfect. We talked about New Orleans and Kansas City and dogs and travel and chance encounters with new friends.
Just as I finished my spring rolls, Kelly called to say they were in front, waiting for me.
I gave Toffer a hug and a kiss, and we promised to meet again. And I believe we will.
Because life. It's like that.