Yesterday was a beautiful sunny day — which is a rare thing in Portland in winter. Like the rest of the city, Debbie and I decided to take a walk along the waterfront, and it was there that we met three time travelers.
They didn’t tell us they were time travelers — I mean, temporal prime directive, right? But it became obvious as they hurried away from us.
We were on the west side, well south of the Hawthorne bridge and three young women approached us coming in the opposite direction. The short one said, “Can you tell us where this is?” And she held out her iPhone. There was a picture on the phone. It was slightly askance, but it kind of looked like this (minus the people):
I said, “Um, oh, yes! That’s OHSU! The waterfront station.” I pointed over their shoulders toward the Ross Island bridge and said, “But you can’t get there from here. You can’t walk along the river to get there.”
The one with short brown hair said, “How do we get there then?”
I’ve only been to the waterfront OHSU a few times; neither Debbie nor I know that part of the city very well. “It’s not far,” I said. “If you walk in a few blocks off the river, you can walk it or grab the Max.”
The brown haired one said, “What’s a max?” I blinked at her. “It’s the streetcar, um like the subway, but on the street?” Debbie nodded saying, “Public transit.”
The short one said, “OK, um so… We–” But before we could point them to the first street off the river, a couple our age jogged by and the woman said, “Moody. It’s Moody Ave. You can get there just down that way. Between those two buildings.” And they jogged away.
Debbie and I glanced at each other and at the three young women. “Yeah,” I said, “Moody — that’s the name of the street. I don’t get down this way much. So, if you turn around…” I shooed them with my arms. “I think she meant that building.” I pointed to a light brick building that seemed to crease in the middle. The short one nodded, and the one who’d not spoken moved her windblown hair from her face.
“We’re walking that way, too,” I said, and we all started moving. “It’s such a beautiful day; it’s OK to get lost, hmm?” I was trying to make conversation, but the women all picked up their pace, and the short one flashed a quick smile.
They pulled away, walking faster, and Debbie touched my hand. “Here’s that little park,” she said and stopped walking. I said, “That was very odd.”
“I know! Those people jogging by? I thought they knew them. Do you think they’d asked for directions already?”
I shrugged. “And where did she get that picture?”
“They’d never heard of the Max?” Debbie shook her head.
“Time travelers.” I tapped my forehead; “Of course, they’re time travelers.”
“And they’re late for an appointment….”
“At the Health and Science University.”
“Where else?” Debbie smiled. “It’s a good story.” She hooked her arm through mine, and we continued our stroll along the river.