We're late, as is our habit.
We couldn't get the car away from our siblings, and we had trouble parallel parking. But now we've gathered in Northwest Portland, on the steps of Tea Chai Té, for our mission.
We are going to spend the next 10 hours looking for things to do in Portland before you're 21. This is a city that seems to run on young people—but not too young. The city's culture seems slanted to those who are of age, who can flash their IDs and get into clubs and bars without worry.
We're not kids—not girls—but in the eyes of the law, we're not yet grown up. We're looking for the fun we can find in between.
We start with $80 between us and absolutely no plan.
"Can we go to Manor?" one of us asks.
"No. Food first."
We decide on Cartopia at Southeast 12th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard. We think we'll get around better without a car, so we get on the Streetcar at Northwest Lovejoy Street and 22nd Avenue and it starts to crawl west. Two of us nurse Ring Pops, watermelon and cherry.
"Do you have any more?" one of us without candy asks.
"No, sorry, I only had two in my bag."
"Whatever, I didn't want one anyway."
The Streetcar takes 14 minutes to get to the No. 15 bus line. At Southwest 10th Avenue and Salmon Street, a large woman with smeared eyeliner walks up to us. "Can I use your phone, dear?" she says. "I'll pay you $5." She follows us on the bus and we hand her a phone, declining her money. She calls Comcast to set up an appointment, and then looks at our Ring Pops. "Are you aware," she says, "that those look like things for babies?"
We arrive at Cartopia and want pizza. "How much is it?" one of us asks. "I refuse to spend more than $4."
We order one pepperoni, one margherita.
"Pizza really good," one of us says.
"Wow, nice grammar."
"My dad is such a grammar Nazi. He corrects me on stupid shit."
"Yeah, I also want to get my nose pierced, but when I told my dad he was like meeeyyyhhh."
"You should go for the Guinness world record for most piercings."
After pizza we're stuffed—but then order three milkshakes from Perierra: a strawberry, a Nutella, and a banana-Nutella.
We decide to share, but one of us sucks down the banana-Nutella all by herself. "Storm Large is a goddess," she says. "I want to friend her on Facebook so badly."
One of us hears there's a Fabergé egg at the Perfume House on Hawthorne. We take the No. 14 and at the shop see a blue velvet box that says "Fabergé." We want to see the egg, but the shop owner distracts us.
"Do you girls all share the same name?" he says.
We tell him no, a little creeped out. He tells us he's about to give us a sample of the latest scent from Oman and one of the greatest perfume houses in the world. He drenches four cotton balls in the perfume called "Honor."
"Put these in your bras," he says.
We think he's joking. "No, really. It will drive the boys crazy."
This we do after we leave the store. We walk to Imelda's with damp bras that now smell like the cosmetic counter at Nordstrom. In the shoe store we see a pair of Børns—red, soft leather, cushioned flats. $95. We want them but now have only $49 for food and caffeine.
We brokenheartedly move to House of Vintage, where a black baby doll with blond hair guards the front door in an orange chair. We wonder if it's offensive.
We think about riding the OHSU tram, but we're too lazy to make such a long trip. One of us says we should go to the Grotto; her mom says it's cool.
Not a single boy has gone crazy from the scent of Honor.
We're on the No. 15 and 72 buses for 40 minutes when we realize (a) we're not entirely sure where the Grotto is, (b) we miss our stop, and (c) the tram would have been closer and way more fun.
It rains on us as we walk back to the Grotto. The religious shrine is surrounded by trees; we hear what sounds like monks chanting. In a cave, a white Pieta perches 15 feet off the ground. Two green racks with hundreds of lit pillar candles surround the altar. No one is else is here; it feels like a bad horror movie.
We leave and get drenched and just want to go home and put on flannel pajamas. We also want a Slurpee. We catch the No. 19 and suddenly realize there's a 7-Eleven right there. The bus driver gripes at us when we jump off after half a block.
We pass the aisle with Hostess snacks and buy a Cherry Coke Slurpee and a small bottle of Coca-Cola, which we share. Back on the No. 20, rain drips on us through the open emergency exit in the roof.
We arrive back at Northwest 23rd Avenue and wish our house will look like this Pottery Barn someday—but since we don't have our own homes, we think Williams-Sonoma might be more fun.
We're right. Star Wars cookie cutters and a metal firestarter torch amuse us before we go upstairs to sit on the chairs and flop down on the huge display bed.
We move on to Sloan and admire a Kelly green sundress with a cutout back. We sift through coral maxis, polka dots and fitted floral crop tops—until a clerk with a child's voice says, "We're going to be closing in a few minutes, gals, so try on anything you want to now!â
We only have $45.70 total. She herds us to the door like preschoolers.
"Wow, I hate when people say 'gals,'" one of us says. "It's super-annoying."
All the shops are closing, and our shoes are soaked. We trudge down the street to Vivace, where we order tea, coffee and breakfast crepes, though we still feel full from the milkshakes.
We gossip until our conversation becomes ridiculous.
âI donât understand why she dresses like a hobo.â
âGod, my science teacher last semester was such a beezy.â
"What would happen if everyone donated Fifty Shades of Grey to the school library? Actually, though, what would they do with like 300 copies?"
We stay until Vivace closes. We think about Stepping Stone, but we can't eat any more. We return to our cars, but we can't end the night in such a lame way.
"I have sparklers," one of us says.
We get in our cars and drive to one of our homes on a cul-de-sac outside the city.
We stuff our faces with Sour Patch Kids, light the sparklers and run in circles in the cul-de-sac, red sparks and smoke trailing behind us, just like we did when we were 5 years old.
âWoooooooo!â we scream past the houses, from which no adult emerges to stop us.