BootsnAll Travel Network

Friday the 13th, Boogie on down

Ah, beautiful. I have now been in my new home for a whole week, and it is feeling less “new.” It is only 82 degrees F in Houston at 9:30 in the morning, so I have not yet turned on the air conditioner. The windows are open, and I hear the rustle of oak leaves and the whish of pine needles. Another good friend has said she, too, is hoping to retire in Portland. For the moment I am not reporting for work, not grading papers, enjoying myself in a “constant state of enquiry and mild excitement,” as Stephen says to describe his state of mind when he’s painting. Literally and metaphorically, I’m dancing a kind of boogie of joy to be alive and still actively creating my life. Oh yes!

I watch the sunrise in the morning as I’m eating my bowl of cereal after I have my walk, but so far I’ve been hiding out in the air conditioned house when it’s time for the sunset. There’s an oak to the left and a pine to the right, and they mingle their branches right in front of my balcony. The pine has long needles that glimmer in the sunshine or hold a round spray of glistening drops of rain, and the oak has thick foliage that rustles powerfully and appears, in the play of sun, to be every shade of green: bright spring-green, middle green, or where the foliage is thickest, deep hunter green to black. Below the balcony is a parking lot just wide enough for two lanes of traffic and a strip of parking-places facing the complex and another facing the fence. Beyond the parking lot is a six-foot fence and then a strip of wild land about 20 feet wide; then there’s another six-foot fence and a row of brick houses. There are rabbits in the wild space, a feral cat now and then, and the butterflies and dragon flies spiral, flit, and dash around over the grass. I suppose there are mosquitoes too, but I haven’t been bothered by them yet.

I’ve been feeling what it’s like to be a single old woman without a job to go to, and I love this! I don’t think I’m going to have a moment’s difficulty becoming a retired person, which will give me 100% of my time for writing, activism, and things that matter to me, like gazing into the leaves of an oak or the needles of a pine, nourishing friendships by email or face to face, or writing letters to prisoners I care about who only have concrete, steel, and wire to gaze into. I don’t see much likelihood of continuing travels, but there may be surprises–grants, a short-term teaching job on that ship that offers college classes as it circles the planet, who knows what else? Portland is my number one choice at this moment, not having visited either Zen center yet, and not having actually seen and smelled the complexes in Portland that I’ve applied to.

And then–yesterday the Upaya schedule arrived, and it is much less demanding than I had expected! I thought I was in for 35-40 hours a week of labor, chopping vegetables, cleaning toilets, making beds. But not at all! Barely five hours a day of labor, and “living in a beautiful dorm with 2-3 other women.” Goodness. I had pictured the dorm having twenty or so bunk beds. Other Zen centers I’m familiar with start with 5 a.m. meditation. Upaya really coddles people. And so, for that matter, does Green Gulch. The world is full of thrilling choices.

I feel euphoric, grateful, full of possibility and wonder. Is that allowed? Life seems almost too good to be true. Well–one thing I know is that everything changes. Nothing to do but be glad in the moment and be present when the changes come. Speaking of which–the temperature is rising by the minute, and it is time to pull the windows down and turn the AC on. Another subject for enormous gratitude.

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