I am not quite halfway through my Portland sojourn, trying not to dwell too much on the fact that after today my time remaining is less than the time I have spent here so far.
I have been immersed in family since arriving, sharing meals, sharing laughter, sharing hugs, sharing stories, sharing Ramona. I have had the satisfaction of seeing Ben stand taller and straighter within himself as he grows in confidence and maturity as a husband, father, son, and employee. I have walked with Sam discussing streetscapes, community fabric, and architecture. I have talked with Alise and watched her navigate her days with an ease I would have loved to possess when I was her age. I have been taken in and made welcome by Alise's mom, Mona, and sister, Jenna, giving me a home away from home. And I have had the wonder of spending hours with Ramona, marveling that the toddler I knew last May has been largely replaced by a confident, articulate, and utterly charming little girl.
The trip has been good for me in ways other than family and love. I have done more driving--at night, in heavy rain, on jammed freeways, across vast stretches of Portland--than I have done in years. This has boosted my confidence immeasurably, showing me how tentative I have become over the last few years. Striking across town from Sam's to Ben and Alise's yesterday, going on some sketchy verbal directions, minimal street signage, and gut instinct, I called Warren and crowed in triumph when I arrived.
I have stayed off electronic media for most of this trip (this being an exception) and have relished the disconnection. I have even set aside my camera for long stretches. I do not want to miss the immediacy of the moment trying to frame a shot. I want to soak in the vitality of Ramona and not look at her from behind a camera. Trust me, I've taken lots of photos of Ramona and there will be more. But there is also a time to set aside the camera and savor the real time I have with her.
When I was driving to Sam's yesterday, a brief shower came up despite the bright sun. I shouted to the empty car: "Portland rainbow weather!" I was not disappointed: a perfect arc soon shimmered across the sky. It was a good omen for what has been a wonderful trip. All this love, all this family, all this now, and a rainbow too.