Tim drops me off, and I spend the day adventuring through my new city.
Wednesdays are days for volunteering at the marvelous Telling Room. The day usually begins with a meeting in a birdhouse-type home on Munjoy Hill, where a kind and inspiring poet lives with views of the bay. She gives me a ride into a school in South Portland where I work as a mentor for an hour with 12-year olds from all over the world.
This week was awesome. It was Clare and a 12-year old from Guangzhou. We sat and discussed char siu bao and dan tai and he let a story unwind from his mind; of coming to America; of buses up to Boston and then Maine; of snow and Christmas and not speaking a word of English and getting lost in his new school.
But it was a happy tale that soon moved to the making of friends and the settling into this new world. It rang true with me.
Thursdays are spent with Dharma on the mind, as I spend the day in the city so that I can teach a meditation class in the evening. Every single Thursday is brilliant, and filled with a luminous quality. Perhaps the Buddhas are blessing my mind, and helping me through the day. Yesterday was filled with meetings and conspiring on new projects, and the feeling that I am, finally, connecting to my surroundings.
And what struck me yesterday was the sheer creativity of Portland. I come from a financial town where bankers rule and the temples are called HSBC and Bank of China Tower. Artists stand in the shadows and make do with the scraps.
Here, the reverse is true. The bankers are marginalized to a tiny pocket of the city, and the rest of the place is ran by a wild and carefree kind of creativity. The arts infiltrate all levels of life here. The old man in front of me in the Fex Ex copy shop was photocopying endless sheets of music. The two ladies sitting next to me at lunch were discussing their fledgling clothing line. The cars cruising by with open windows played a mind-warping selection of brilliant tunes.
And I, the writer, stood in the midst of it, and couldn't stop smiling.
Photo: Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, South Portland, Maine, 1905 Listed as Spring Point Light, but likely Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse, South Portland, Maine, copyrighted 1905.