It's a fair question: why was I in Portland? and where did I disappear to after I got there?
Back in January, I found out about a photography retreat in Manzanita, OR, on a part of the Pacific coast I've been wanting to see for a long time now. Somehow, the timing and the pricing all came together in a way that made it possible for me to be in Oregon for nearly a week: thank you, graduate school and job market, for helping me to accumulate all those frequent flier miles.
So far, this summer has been one major event after another, at an even faster pace than usual. For example: barely fifteen hours after returning from a silent retreat at the Zen monastery, I was in a seminar room co-running a writing workshop. Coming back from Oregon, I didn't have even that much margin: the plane touched down in Columbus at 1:10 a.m. Monday, and at 9:30 a.m. Monday I was back in that same seminar room, co-running yet another workshop, which just ended this afternoon. After a couple of days of recharging over the weekend, I'll be back in that room yet again--which makes me all the more glad that I love the room as much as I do--this time to teach the newest group of summer writing students in the program I've been teaching in on and off for four years.
But first there was Oregon.
I'd never been to Portland, a city about which I'd heard many excellent things, and so I decided to see it for a couple of days before the workshop got underway. There was Powell's, which I found better than I'd imagined. There was also NE Alberta, where a stationery store I'd hoped to visit (and in fact walked about five miles to find) is no longer located, alas.
There was the Japanese garden, which was my favorite part of the entire city experience, even including the bookstore.
And there were the hipster cranes at the hipster hotel.
I think that only hipsters make their thousand cranes out of felt. I'm not dissing them. I think they're wonderful. And I knew that the hotel was a hipster hotel; that's one of the reasons I booked a room there. I was somehow surprised, though perhaps I should also have been relieved, to find that I didn't feel as though I much fit in there. (Also pleasantly surprising: how friendly everyone was, all over the city.)
I know I already mentioned it, but seriously: the Japanese garden:
I think that it will have to get its own slide show, as have the rocks and wood that fascinated me at the coast. Much of the time I was there, I found myself taking pictures of paths.
I arrived in Portland on Tuesday afternoon. On Thursday afternoon, I picked up my rental car (after having been recognized on the city street by a recently graduated student who called me out by name despite the fact that I never even taught him!) and made my way through the rain and the mountains and to the coast.
And then there were two full days there, roving around on beaches, watching wave patterns, getting to know a group of friendly strangers, getting to bid farewell to some old hurts I hadn't been able to name--and to greet some new happinesses.
I flew home with a tribute painted at the back of my neck.