The other night, walking in downtown Portland wearing my winter coat although it’s April, leaving an art gallery and staring up at the deep blue twilight sky and the sliver of new moon glowing silver amongst the still bare branches, I experienced a deep moment of happiness. You know what I’m talking about—those moments of profound and utter contentment that swell up unexpectedly at odd moments, when to the core of your being you know, “This is where I want to be.”

I haven’t had one in a while. In fact, I think the last one was in Morocco. That’s why I noticed it.

What triggers these moments? They can’t be planned. They are a gift.

But I also wonder, does it mean that I’m finally feeling more settled? The last week hasn’t felt that way. It’s been filled with stabs of memory of a place left behind—a sudden memory of bougainvillea against a blue sky, of sunlight through an arch, of Annie’s bookshelves and red curtains, of the tiled columns at the entrance to our salon and the light in the hall. I cook dinner in Portland and flash on making tortillas from scratch, rolling them out on the low countertop, my tiny gas stove in the corner. These memories are seemingly prompted by nothing. This last week has also been unusually busy. I left a meeting that went twice as long as I thought it would (it was discussing our work with refugees) to go give an English lesson but instead of English, surprise!, I took the whole family to a clothes closet. That took an extra hour and a half which meant I was an hour late to my next appointment. And so it goes, on and on, and some days don’t end till after midnight.

But back to my first paragraph. We went to First Thursday (when the art galleries stay open late, till 9 p.m., which is only late in America) with the artist couple. We told them we’d pick them up at 5:30 so we could be downtown and parked by 6, but since they didn’t really understand what we were inviting them to, they weren’t ready to go till 7:30. We went anyway, and managed to make 4 galleries. We saw enormous prints, laser, digital, like Donn is making now, selling for $5000, which made us a little jealous. It’s true art is subjective, but I like Donn’s art hanging on my walls better than the $5000 prints. In fact, my advice for any young women starting out today (or young men for that matter) is to marry an artist. That way, you’ve always got something beautiful to hang on your walls. Also someone who can do paperwork. I think that one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Our friends enjoyed visiting the galleries and I did too. There’s something about walking around in silence, looking at other people’s attempts to interpret the world around them, that speaks to the soul. We wandered in and out in an icy wind in spite of pink trees and daffodils, from gallery to gallery, enjoying the shows and speaking to the galleries about possibly getting our Iraqi friend a show. He’s really good, and we got a couple of good leads so we were all pretty excited by the time we headed home.

Spring.

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