Thursday, September 10, 2015

Portland I

Even though there was that middle-of-the-night self-diagnosis of a developing mental illness a few nights ago, and then a re-evaluation of that in the days to follow,
And even though I realized there was an array of lonesome and anxious emotions that filled my mind in New York
And even though I was insane and mad, and then calm again but still stressed, and even though there was more to write about my mental roller coaster,
And even though I thought the song was about me, and I listened to it as soon as I boarded the plane to Portland to hear the words unfold in my ears and heart, but later realized it didn't have to do with me, but the weather... And even though in New York there was sadness and frustration--

I am in Portland now, and here interesting and lovely things are happening, so in order to keep up with the pace of the unfolding events, and in order to not turn this blog into a long, tiring novel, I will leave the turmoil behind and write about Portland.

I landed in Portland two nights ago and my sweet third cousin (whose existence I discovered only a few weeks ago) picked me up from the airport and brought me to his big home of 7 housemates. He had made a bed for me and even gave me a towel for a shower (this is all better than what I do for my guests; but I do have the intention of being a wonderful host in the future, especially after being inspired by people like my cousin, and I will have a guest room with a comfortable bed that will always be made), and told me to feel at home.
I fell asleep with a smile on my face, content and much less stressed out than in New York.
I realize that I had to get out of New York to be able to breathe again.
In the morning I saw the branches and leaves and roses outside the window. The roof of the next house over, a bird on the roof. Without my glasses it was a flittering blur, but I heard it chirp.
I got up and took a shower, kind of hoping I wouldn't encounter the other housamates (because I'm not so good at sudden encounters), but remembering that my cousin earnestly said- Feel at home, so I did. After the shower, I took out a pack of oatmeal from my bag, took out the camping utensils and made myself a bowl of oatmeal in the Boy Scouts bowl my father had given me before I left. After the oatmeal, I left the house to walk to Steinman's Bagels and Coffee. My cousin said it's a cute place run by a really nice Jew that he likes.
I walked to the bagel place with a newfound glory. This was a new place for me, I've never been in Oregon before. The sidewalk was lined with rosebushes and other colorful flowers. The sun was bright and the weather was perfect.
I ordered coffee and a bagel, and was given a cup. The man handed me soy milk and indicated that I go make my cup of coffee over there, buffet style, at a long table against the wall with a big urn and bowls with various things inside them. I thought that was pretty cool, that you make your own coffee, but didn't really know what to do. I stood there for a moment looking around, wondering if I need to spoon out the coffee from somewhere, when a middle-aged, small, Jewish-looking Mr. Steinman came over and said "you look concerned." "Yeah, well, I'm from out of town and don't really know how it works."
He said "I'm from another planet." I said, "me too. I'm from Israel."


I sat with my coffee and bagel and just smiled out the window for a while, watching the calm road where cars only occasionally passed. I took out my drawing pad and started drawing the people sitting around. The guy I was drawing got up to leave but first passed by to ask if he could see. "I only just started, and then you got up." "Well, I like it." He said, and left.

I wondered if he was Israeli.
Some people here look Israeli to me, but I guess that's just because Portland has a hip, laid-back community, too.


After that I took a bus to the woman I'm couchsurfing with. I specifically searched for someone vegan to stay with, but didn't know I'd be coming to a really special eco-village in the middle of Portland. They are a small eco-community with a garden in which they grow fruits and vegetables, and with all sorts of other wonderful things.

The apartment is small and sweet, and what catches my eye the most are the Zen and Buddhism books and atmosphere. I still need to go to India someday, but maybe my understanding of Buddhism and my connection to it can start here.

"God Wants Nothing" engraved in a stone.

(In Israel, the outlook of God is usually one of two: Either the classical male God who commands humans what to do and not to do, or no God at all. I haven't yet come upon many new-age views of a broader God, in the sense of All and Everything, with No Figure, Who is All The Energies, and Wants Nothing, which is an outlook I am drawn to, but somehow I never manage to really explain it or develop the idea to its full extent.)

Last night we went to a lecture by Peter Singer, world-renowned philosopher, writer and animal rights activist.
I will write about that in my next post.

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