Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Summertime Rolls Along, On and On
Oregon. My second Home. The place where I fell in love with the forest, where I found a second family in a circle of friends, where I spent nearly a third of my life learning and growing and becoming a fuller more confident version of my authentic self, where I let myself sink my roots deep down, and where I finally chose to lift those roots up. Living in Portland was a wonderful chapter in my life, mostly because of the people I shared it with. And ending this chapter was a hard process, one that literally lasted for years as I slowly reconciled leaving my community in order to separate from the city-life and climate that no longer suited me. And so, my month long return visit to Portland this summer was a mix of delights and of confirmations that I made the right choice in moving away. The highlights were many, and I am so grateful for them.
Immediately after arrival in Portland, I was swept away to the Oregon Country Fair, one of my favorite events of the year, and where I was reunited with many good friends.
Returning to the Fair after a year away is much like seeing good friends or family, after so much time apart; no matter how much time has passed, it feels like we haven't been separated, that no time has gone by since we last hung out, nor since the last time I walked the paths through the Fair grounds. It feels like the day after we were last together, like we are picking up right where we left off. Maybe it is the familiarity and comfort, maybe it is the proof that real friendships never die, maybe it is that part of me is always with the people and the places I love.
So, of course the Fair was filled with the usual inspiring and wacky costumes, beautiful artisan wares, fabulous music, delicious food and drinks, late night dance parties, and the typically unusual 3a.m. adventures on dimly lit pathways with friends and interesting strangers.
My musical highlights this year included: The Vita Girls, Alice DiMicele, my friend Cassandra Robertson, Jaya Lakshmi, Ras Gabriel, Ondrej Smeykal, and these two fellas playing the Hang Drums on the pathway:
Called The Oregon Renaissance Faire from it's beginning in 1969 until 1977 when it became it's present name, The Oregon Country Fair is held on the previous gathering site of the Kalapuya tribe along the Tom Long River outside of Eugene, Oregon. Giant puppets, stilt walkers, parades, fire-dancing, vaudeville and daredevil acts, pathside buskers, and much more help to create the magic that is this annual event.
OCF draws an average of 45,000 people every year during the 3 days that it is open to the public from 11-7. The volunteers total around 4,000 and have the added privledge of staying in the Fair grounds overnight for additional entertainment and extravagence. Once one has been able to stay in overnight, one rarely wants to go back to being just a day-time participant. But these special passes are a hot commodity, often hard to come by. I have been lucky to have a regular pass for 5 years now with a vendor booth (of which there are 350) which sells didgeridoos (a traditional wind instrument from Australia) and handpainted Native American drums.
I work on the didgeridoo side of the booth, for the artist and renowned teacher Allan Shockley.
It is such a great group of people who run this booth, I feel so lucky. And after so many years of working at this booth, I am finally learning a little bit about how to play this ancient instrument.
Other trips outside of the Portland proper include: A wonderful day-hike with Sarah in the Columbia River Gorge at Wahkeenah Falls:
A hike to swim at the Sandy River followed by a night of camping on a friend of a friend's property in Corbett:
And a delicously relaxing and revitalizing overnight trip to Breitenbush Hot Springs with Christine. Here we soaked, ate amazing food, star-gazed, dipped in the ice-cold snow melt river, and unexpetedly ran into other friends. Chetana led us on a hike and facilitated an intorductory workshop about Byron Katie's "The Work." Yes, Breitenbush is one of my favorite places on Earth:
Other than these little trips, I didn't leave Portland during the rest of my visit. I actually wasn't very mobile while in Portland, because I had the fabulously freeing exerience of selling my car! For this month stay in the city, I relied heavily on the moderately accessible bus system, my feet, and the good will of friends who gave me rides or let me borrow their cars. (THANK YOU!!) It was certainly a different way to exerience the city...slower, grimier, and much more sustainable. And it definitly helped me to see and experience the culturally diverse side of Portland, which is easy to miss when you transport by car. This felt great, like being the minority as I was in Mexico!
It would take me ages to write about all of the people I got to spend time with in Portland. And unfortunately, I didn't get pictures of all the people and events. There were so many wonderful homecooked meals and outings to favorite restaurants with friends. Picnics at parks to celebrate the birthdays of all the Leo's and to hear live music. Tuesday nights at the Press Club for half-off wine. Walks along the river downtown. Sleepovers. Late night teas. A baby shower/Blessingway for the midwife I trained with. And lots of just hanging out.
I enjoyed going to classes at my favorite yoga studio, The Bhaktishop, every week, spending time in my old neighborhood, and relishing in the cool summertime weather in Portland, though it was far cooler than normal for this time of year. I did quite a bit of house/pet sitting while in Portland, for a few different friends.
And I got to spend nice times with the kids I used to work with. Willa and Lily's family had me over to dinner one night, with Esti, the girl who was part of the nanny-share. We all immediately fell back into our old story-times and games, a morphed version of Mom/Kid, Harry Potter, and Witch, yet this time a more mature version and easier for all to particiate. Oh, it was so good to squeeze them all!
I also had the joy of staying with Charlotte for 2 nights while her parents had a much needed getaway. It was awesome to see how Charlotte has grown, all of the big developmental shifts she has happily accomplished, and all of the ones she is so determined to reach soon. It was a gift to have this time bonding with her again. She is such a love, and so inspiring in her sweet determination and joy-filled manner. It was an extra treat to go to her cranio-sacral and physical therapy appointments.
My beautiful and delightful God-daughter Zia celebrated her 2nd year of life. It was awesome to spend time with her and her parents, play with her, pick blackberries, and see her glowing in a social buzz at her birthday party.
Ah yes, the children. All of the children in my life are so special to me! If nothing else, they are what help me mark the passage of time. While things in Portland seemed to still be going on as usual since my February departure, the children had all grown and changed so much! They were what helped me feel how long I had been gone, how much had occured since I left. All of my friends children and the girls I nannied for are becoming their own little vibrant independent beings, bright fabulous loving souls brought up by beautiful people. And Hannah, Sarah's daughter, who I have known since she was 4 or 5, is now 15 and radiating a graceful strength and confidence that is refreshing and charged. At different gatherings, I saw many of my former midwifery and childbirth-ed clients with their children who I helped usher into the world. These children are not babies as I last saw them, but 3 or 4 year olds! How amazing!
A last high-light of my time in Portland was a 2 day introductory workshop I took on Craniosacral therapy, a field I plan on doing further trainings in. Taught by Carol Gray, this workshop was fabulous and so inspiring to me. It raised my confidence that this is work I can do, and helped me to confirm the direction I want to take on my path of working with children. In addition to more craniosacral trainings, I plan on learning other modalities like infant massage and reflexology, combining these all to do physically and emotionally therapuetic work with infants and toddlers. This really excites me, and I would like to thank Charlotte and her therapists for being my inspiration.
As I said before, my time in Portland was a mixed bag. Although it was full of so many awesome experiences, there were a few challenges that affirmed for me that moving was a good choice. The traffic, the city smells and commute times, the busy pace of life, the unavoidable need to spend lots of money, the feeling of not seeing friends often even though I am surrounded by them, and the climate. There is something about the climate of Portland, even in the summer, that has an ill effect on me. In my short time there this summer, my psoriasis got worse, my comlextion got worse, plantar warts returned, and the arthritis I had with my Lyme's disease 4 years ago started to return (all of these conditions have improved or disappeared since once again being back in Texas :). My body was telling me to go back to the warm dry sun of Texas, and my soul was telling me that the quiet slow life in Texas is more suited to my personality and the ways of my soul. And I was ready to return. Ready to be back with Lucas, ready to be still for awhile, find employment, get grounded and focused, and be in the land that is more reflective of the makings of my being.
Thank you Portland. Thank you dear friends. Thank you family. I am grateful for such a wonderful summer!