Rendezvoused with NF and KF at the airport in Portland (PDX) on Sunday morning. They had been at the Soto Zen Buddhist Association's National Conference held at Great Vow Zen Monastery, out in the country near Clatskanie. This event was immediately followed at Great Vow by the meeting of a different Buddhist organization whose acronym I must have written down wrong because I can't find a link...
OK, so we're having coffee at the airport, and K says, "DR is giving a talk (1)(2) about okesa at Great Vow this afternoon to the people attending the next event, do you want to go hear her?" Well of course, sez I. Aiiii, I have nothing to wear, sez I. N gets a samue out of his suitcase and lends it to me. We wave goodbye to N at the security gate and drive down the Columbia River on the Oregon side, to Great Vow.
BH was there, and PP. They were at both meetings, I think. I had just missed JB. The only other people I knew were DL and MW, though some of the names were familiar.
So suddenly I was sitting in a Zen Monastery in rural Oregon next to PP and behind BH, listening to DR (the god-mother of my own okesa, she brought the fabric to New Mexico, measured me, cut it out for me, and got me started sewing, stitch stitch stitch, but oh my decades ago).
Great Vow itself is in an old school. An elementary school: the bathrooms have these tiny low toilets and the partitions are low: grownups can see each other over the tops :-) Our stay at Great Vow was so brief, literally all I saw of it were the bathroom and the (former) gymnasium where D gave her talk.
Anyway, we arrived just in time for the talk, suddenly there were D and B and hugging in the hallway and so on. They were surprised completely, I had had about an hour to get used to the idea that suddenly I would be seeing them. Then the talk. During the buzzing around afterwards we realized that someone from Great Vow was immediately driving D to the airport in Portland, so K volunteered us to drive her, we were on our way back into Portland anyway....
I had become completely exhausted (and hungry) by then, and was somewhat horrified at lengthening the time before we could get to the motel so I could lie down. But as I told Dr. Pommier last month, I am still well enough to always do what I am supposed to do; and that includes both work commitments and arrangements involving friends. After multo goodbyes and group photos of the five of us— me, D, B, K & P ("a San Francisco Zen Center reunion," said the monk who wielded the camera for us; yes but no— and so on, we got on the road. So there I was in the back of the car as we pitched down the highway to Portland, luckily there was a pastry to consume which helped restore my energy. K and D shared a chocolate bar. It was sunset and then dusk, and it was very beautiful up there in the country along the Columbia.
Dropped D off at PDX, one last round of goodbyes, then K and I found our way from the airport to downtown, found the motel, found some dinner. The next morning early, we went together to the medical center for my monthly appointment with Doctor Pommier, my clinical trial doctor, which was supposed to have been the focus of my trip to Portland until we suddenly unexpectedly ran off to visit ever so briefly with dharma siblings and a whole other part of my life.