(title of a track laine posted on his blog for good springtime music)
I am in Florida, Tallahassee to be specific, and I've been here for just over a week now. The weather is slightly overcast today, "Portlandish" as one of my hosts called it this morning, and honestly, it's my favorite kind of weather. Sunglasses *and* a broad-rimmed hat have gotten me through the impending sun of a Northern Floridian week, but at times the squinting has turned my Irish eyes a smiling into Irish eyes a struggling.
Now I am nestled in the lovely home of one of the major coordinators. The whole reason I was brought here was to teach a Miksang weekend (last weekend past), have a week of retreat, then teach a Contemplative Writing weekend (tomorrow and next day). She's an energy worker and PA at the Vet's Association, he's an art education professor at FSU. Their home is what I sort of expect mine might look like a coupla decades from now - organized but full, warm and worldly. It's very enjoyable. I've been touring the houses of the sangha a bit - my other organizer thought it better not to stress one member only over the nearly two weeks I've been here - and I've been staying in empty (haunted?) houses, big co-housing houses built 14 years ago, older houses similar to my own in terms of build (mine was built in the 30's) and finally this house, a ranchy bit nothing like my own at home, but feeling-wise, very similar. Has the same soul, one might say. I do truly love others' houses (I called it the "active Martha Stewart Living" when talking to one host - "Oh. So *That's* how they solved that problem!" kind of response.) (MSL is my very serious guilty pleasure). But the fact is that this trip has definitely taught me for sure that I am a homebody and need to stay in one home if I am gone from my own (and my own sweetie) for this long. Two weeks, 5 house changes is too much. Now we know.
The Tallahassee sangha is stunning. They are a very small center - just barely qualifying to be a center instead of a group, but very powerful, welcoming, and enthusiastic. They also LOVE Miksang, and I am leaving here confident that it has truly taken root here. Likely some of the students will emerge as teachers, as well (we'll have to wait about a year to make sure) and that's great, as neither teacher line has made a dent in the South yet.
And this *is* the South. I went to Orlando when I was 12, to visit a friend who's dad was in the World Band at Disney World. That was *not* Florida, nor the South. Last night I had oysters and mullet (tied to hairstyle? haven't checked yet) for dinner. The day before I went to a slave cemetery and saw an art exhibit portraying the Confederate battle flag in various, semi- to severly controversial depictions. The accents, the hospitality - all of it has felt seriously like a foreign country! When I mentioned this to one sangha member, she said "You've lived in France. Yeah. It's just like France. You greet a shopkeeper or they won't help you out. Presentation and politeness are everything." That explained the foreign feeling, yet the odd familiarity.
It's also been a very hard week for me personally. Things are in big flux at home (Erika and Aaron house searching, with tension around their moving out, and Dylan moving in), I miss Dylan (our longest time apart so far), and, ever classic, I have been far too hard on myself all week. I sort of cracked a bit by Wednesday, standing on an island in the Gulf, nothing around me but sky and water and sand, and cried and cried, after searching too hard for the perfect shells. I finally went to a chiropractor yesterday and he cracked a lot of it out for me. So hard for me to remember to relax and it gets harder the more pain I am in.
But shadows are indeed see throughable. And I am grateful I caught on now, within the confines of the trip, rather than after, like in Europe last year. I *am* learning, though that, too, can be used against me (by me), of course.
Off the computer for a bit, to relax my poor eyes and overconcentrated neck. I'll be home next Monday, Madison! And next time I come back to Tallahassee, I will have to go to Wakulla Springs, filming location for Creature from the Black Lagoon, which, I have found out, is the first film to successfully shoot underwater (Dylan we'll have to rent this upon my return, as the looks I got when I told them I haven't yet seen it were SCARY!).