Sometimes I sleep on the Eastbank Esplanade path. It’s true, when the sun is shining and a breeze is blowing on a perfect Portland July afternoon, I’ll walk out of my office and lay down on the concrete at the entrance to the popular river walk – yes, the smooth white concrete near Coopers Café at the corner of Clay St .and Water Ave. The warmth of the sun is matched by the warmth emanating from the paved pathway and that combination lulls me to sleep in minutes. With the width of the Esplanade entrance, I’m not in anyone’s way there. I lay flat; eyes closed and let the whizzing by of bicycles, workers gossiping and the chatter of the café patrons at the outdoor tables calm my mind.
This habit of mine started two summers ago after the birth of my first child, Ryder. Although he was a good sleeper by baby standards, the inevitable “up all night” happened pretty frequently. I’d roll into my office bleary eyed, a cup of steaming Stumptown in my travel mug and slog through the morning until lunch. One day, I strolled out into the glaring sun, stopped at the Esplanade, lying down from where I just stood, and closed my eyes thinking, “I’ll just rest here for a moment.” I fell asleep – a deep, truly restful sleep that invigorated me for more afternoon copywriting and creative directing. That’s when it became a regular part of my summer and fall days. Now, with the birth of our second child, and the cycle of sleepless nights continuing, this lunchtime ritual seems natural.
I often wonder if people whisper about me as they walk past or wonder why I’ve chosen the pavement of such a busy corridor as my place for slumber. But then I remember that this is Portland. I’m just another cog in the wheel of original scenes that play out on any sunny afternoon of a Portland summer. From tall bikes riding past to the regular morning crowd of swimmers who cross the Willamette River from the west side to the east, I’m just another detail in the woven cloth of what you’ll find in this city.