Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Journey to Oregon: Day Five

I like staying at Bed and Breakfasts because you don't have to go anywhere right away in the morning for breakfast.  It's made right there for you.  Typically, the people who own bed and breakfasts pride themselves on making delicious breakfasts.  The two women who owned the one I stayed at met each other at Culinary School and after working at various resort restaurants as chefs decided to own this bed and breakfast together and flaunt their culinary flourish at the breakfast table.  I've always been fortunate to eat with people who are traveling for interesting reasons.  Today a couple who retired a month ago are taking their first trip, a month long drive along the coast from Los Angeles to Seattle and back down again, stopping in the major cities along the way and staying at bed and breakfasts whenever they can.  It's a trip they've wanted to take for a long time and they're finally doing it.

After breakfast I walk to Natasha's parents’ house.  Natasha has an online class in the morning and so Betty and I walk the few blocks to the downtown farmers market. It's so popular that it occurs on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays during the summer.  There are at least a dozen companies selling mostly organic vegetables and fruits.  Betty buys three bags of produce.  As we are leaving the Farmer's Market I have a neat moment of synchronicity.  A friend of mine, Elena, is also leaving the market area and sees us. I had called her last night and we said we would get together while I was in Eugene but we didn't make plans.  She asks if tomorrow around 11:00 would work for me, which it does, and so we set a date at the tea shop in downtown Eugene, similar to a coffee shop but selling only tea.  I like tea and drink it often so I was hoping to go into the this tea shop it see what a tea shop offered.

Betty and I bring the produce back to her house and then set out on foot again for a show and tell walk.  There's the store devoted to only olive oil, the donuts shop with unique combinations like maple syrup and bacon, the coffee shop after coffee shop, numerous Japanese restaurants, and the street people: young adults with no shoes and long hair and raggedy clothing and usually smelling like their own body odor asking for money or sitting a circle with like minded friends talking, middle aged and older people dressed and smelling similar, perhaps homeless, perhaps unemployed, perhaps with a mental disability that prevents them from functioning in society, many of them, like the younger adults, carrying a plstic bag full of aluminum cans which they'll cash in for money and a back pack with their belongings.  Most people in Eugene call these people hippies.  They are one variety of hippies: the down and out, the drop out, the poor hippies.  It's a rough life in my opinion.  A wonder if it's a life they choose or if numerous circumstances have left them no other choice.  There's another version of hippie in Eugene: the employed and tuned in to issues of environmentalism, organic farming, justice, sustainability, and alternative forms of medication, education, transportation, to name a few.  My friends might be considered this latter variety of hippies.  Once long haired and living collectively in a large house although always working, most of them for the same company, Organically Grown Company, now they all seem middle class and career-oriented albeit still passionately concerned about the issues I mentioned above.  They have changed and yet their core values have remained the same.  If you believe that the way to achieve the best for your self is a solid value system and constant self growth then positive change is the necessary vehicle for that improvement. 

Betty and I walk back to her house for lunch.  Leroy, her husband, has brewed coffee.  As Waylon said the coffee is always flowing at his parent's house.  After lunch, I walk back to the bed and breakfast where I meet Elena's dad for tea and conversation.  Elena met Mary Jean when the two of them lived in Minneapolis and then became a part of the migration to Eugene.  Mary Jean grew up in the same small town as Natasha's family and Elena grew up in Indiana.  Her dad was a professor at a college and published several articles and books about the influence of Zen in English literature.  Two years ago when Elena and her partner had their daughter, Elena's dad and mom became another part of the migration to Eugene.  My connection with John is through our understanding of Zen and literature and this is mostly what we discussed for our two hours together; however at one point we had an interesting discussion about the choices we make for our lives.  John states he doesn't think he makes decisions for himself; rather his life has been a series of events that just happen because they must and this is not a choice, this is in his words, “life unfolding itself.”  I challenge this notion by saying that surely moving from Kokomo, Indiana where he had lived for virtually all of his adult life as a professor to Eugene, Oregon after he retired so that he could be closer to his daughter and granddaughter was a choice.  He tell me this:  Several months after his granddaughter was born, he and his wife, Maria, visited Elena, her partner, and their daughter in Eugene.  He was holding Scarlet in his arms.  She was crying loudly, very upset, and as he lowered Scarlet into a warm bath, she stopped crying, and in that moment, he knew he had to move here.  Life had unfolded itself.  Later that morning he and his wife were looking for a home and found one they liked and put an offer on it and the deal was done.  Had Maria and he talked about moving to Oregon to be closer to their daughter and her partner and their granddaughter before this?  Yes, and yet hadn't decided.  In Jack's words, “the moment decided for me, something greater than myself.” 

When Jack left, I took a walk alone to think about everything Jack and I discussed and then went to dinner at Natasha's parent's house.  After dinner Natasha, Betty, and I took a long walk along the Willamette River   The sun was setting when we turned around and walked home.  The sparkling reflection of the sun in the water created an unusual color, difficult to categorize, the combination of the pinkish orange sun mixed in with the swirling blue current of the river. 

I walked back to the B and B in the dark.  The moon was full.  I took a mindful moment, stopped, and acknowledged and appreciated the moon, and that I was seeing it in Eugene, and that I was in this particular moment, the eternal here and now.  I called it another good day, opened the window in my bedroom, and feel asleep to the sweet sound of silence sans airplanes and interstate traffic. 

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