“How you doing tonight, man?” I ask my fare, a bartender at one of the hipster establishments in the gentrified part of Northeast Portland.
“I am fan-tastic,” he says, stressing the first syllable. “Tonight’s my Friday; now I’ve got the equivalent of a three-day weekend to spend with my just-born son.”
“Thank you!” he says with gusto, obviously proud.
“How old is he?”
“Wow, so really just born.”
“Uh-huh, my first one,” he says.
“So has your life just completely changed, the way they say it does?”
“Instantly, man. It’s like you just instantly become a better person. I mean…well, it’s like I’m just so much more patient now. And not just with him, but with the drunks. It helps so much with work.”
He’s silent for a bit as we wind through the western edge of Alameda, making our way toward Laurelhurst.
“And a big part of it’s that his mom is just such an amazing woman. I mean, basically we met, and then I got her pregnant. The odds…I’m like a poker player, right? And the odds, the odds that of all the people you meet, of all the people in world…. I’m just lucky, man.”
I nod, and can’t really think of a response. As refreshing as it is to speak with someone so enthused about life, it’s a bummer to realize just how stark the contrast is between him and the usual crowd of fiends and alcoholics.