A week ago, I redeemed my last birthday present — a gift certificate for brunch at a place of my choice, courtesy of “your gayest daughter-in-law.”
Who else but Kyndall would have thought to combine an appeal to my tastebuds with a humorous reference to the new relationship we mutually celebrate.
Kyndall became my daughter-in-law last August. But she won my heart long before that. As I said in my post-wedding speech at the reception hall, “Nothing makes me happier than knowing you make my daughter happy.” Or something like that.
I knew she and Simone would someday marry, having visited them when they lived in Pittsburgh for two years and seeing them navigate life together upon their return to Portland in 2012.
But as I was saying…
It was just the two of us last Sunday. We went to Olympic Provisions, a gem of a place I’d heard much about but had never been to in Southeast Portland. It’s on the ground floor of a restored warehouse building in the Central Eastside Industrial District, the kind of place you’d find only if you knew where to look.
The food was fabulous. I’d heard their Eggs Benedict were possibly the best in town. After plowing through a mini-mountain of sweetheart ham, the dish certainly made my top 5 list.
But the delicious meal was secondary. I appreciated the one-on-one time with Kyndall, who so often is at the center of a conversation in just about any group of people. That’s not by accident. She’s smart, funny, opinionated, frequently profane and has a way of drawing people to her — gay and straight, young and old, longtime friends and people she’s just met.
Kyndall was born in Mississippi and raised there and in Washington state. She majored in politics at Western Washington University, works from Portland for a Pittsburgh labor organization, and likes to hit the neighborhood watering holes to watch sports. She plays futsal, rides a motorcycle, knows her way around a set of tools, and co-parents two dogs. She also stands a few inches taller than me.
I’m totally comfortable around Kyndall, knowing we share a similar worldview based on progressive politics, as well as shared interests in food, movies and sports. It’s a stretch to say we have similar musical tastes. Though I credit her for introducing me to Florence and the Machine, I’m pretty certain she’ll never be an Alison Krauss fan.
Our conversation touched on work, movies we have recently seen and home improvement projects. She and Simone bought a house last spring and they’ve poured a lot of time and energy into painting, decorating and other tasks.
One thing Kyndall asked me made me think. It was something along the lines of, “Did you think your 21-year-old self would be surprised at where you are in life? And what would that younger self think of what you are doing and where you are living?”
I love open-ended questions like that. They give you something to chew on, figuratively, between bites of breakfast.
Before we left, I took a moment to tell Kyndall I “treasure” the fact that she is my daughter-in-law.* I was gratified to hear she feels the same way about me.
* Of course, I also deeply appreciate the relationships I have with Jamie Lynn, the wife of our younger son, Jordan, and Sara, the girlfriend of our older son, Nathan.