ink + peat

ink + peat, North Portland, Oregon

Summertime, and we were carefree! No school, no obligations. That summer, the one between 6th and 7th grade, was one of total relaxation. We laid by the pool and we ate ice cream and otherwise just relished the hot weather and lack of schedule.

I also had a great idea that summer — why not show everyone how fun I was by lightening up my hair a bit? My mom wouldn’t let me dye it, but she did buy me a bottle of Sun-in and let me ¬†go to town. I sprayed a light shimmer across my hair that first day. Disappointed by the lack of results, I sprayed in more the second day. By the third, I was practically soaking my hair in it. Please tell me I was not the only kid who tried this.

ink + peat, North Portland, Oregon

By the end of the week, I was blonde. Bleach blonde. I thought it was awesome, and I continued to show my damaged blonde hair around the pool until August rolled around. I’d probably still think that I looked pretty awesome, if I hadn’t been forced to attend school picture day that year. My ensemble consisted of: a lilac T-shirt which made me look more than a little jaundiced, my bleach blonde summer experiment (full-bodied from all that sun damage), the eyebrows I inherited from my dad that hadn’t undergone any tweezing yet in my life and a full set of braces with pink rubberbands stretched across them.

When I got the photos back, I was horrified. By then, I had roots. Dark brown roots. But the rules hadn’t changed — I still wasn’t allowed to dye my hair — so I was stuck with the growout for the next 8 months.

ink + peat, North Portland, Oregon

My point is, I wasn’t always what you’d call put together. But I did have great ambitions. I think I keep it together most of the time now, but when I step into a place like ink + peat (a local shop that seriously has it together) I wish I could be cooler. The good thing is, they let you hang out and take cues from their stylish wares, which are always impeccably chosen and make a perfect gift — to someone else or to yourself.

ink + peat, North Portland, Oregon

ink + peat is at 3808 N. Williams Ave. It’s always impeccable — as is their home decor blog, housemartin.

Canoe

Canoe, Portland, Oregon

It was way too late to still be at school, but we sat in the pickup truck together in the parking lot, under the glow of buzzing lights, as he told me that he didn’t like me in that way.

The day before is when I let my affections be known, through a note (which I thought of as romantic, but was really a way to tell him without getting up the nerve to look right at him). That day after our rehearsal, he asked if we could talk. We went out and sat in his truck until the sun set and it was just us in the parking lot.

A year younger than me, he seemed to be wise beyond his years and more compassionate than most high school boys. He looked me in the eye, and he told me the things he loved about me. He told me the traits I have that make me a great friend, and then — softly — he told me that he just didn’t want to date me. And he was sorry about that — I could tell how sorry he actually was.

As time wore on and our conversation bubbled into laugher, stretched into long silences and ended in a hug, I made my way from the truck back to my car and then home. The boy that I had in my sights for more than a year had said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and I somehow didn’t feel heartbroken. All because he was so classy about it. It was the classiest gesture I’d ever experienced, and that thoughtfulness hasn’t been matched many times in my life in the 12 years since it happened.

Canoe, Portland, Oregon

Classy and thoughtful, through and through — which is exactly how I’d describe Canoe.

Everything inside is lovely, purposefully arranged and accompanied by a little note that tells you about its origins. If you’re in the market for a thoughtful gift, this is absolutely the place to go. The staff tenderly wraps purchases, slips a little treat inside and provides care instructions for your gift. This kind of care is rare — appreciate it, like I did my friend who let me down so gently all those years ago.

Canoe, Portland, Oregon

Canoe, 1136 SW Alder Street, in downtown’s West End district. For more impeccable taste and curation, check them out on Twitter and Pinterest.