Tiger and I picked up right where we had left off, as though eighteen months had not passed at all. Of course, I don’t expect he actually remembered me. Rather he remembers which bench is his and by sitting in it one enters into a nonverbal but binding contract for affection to his satisfaction. I wouldn’t of thought it possible had I not seen it, but he is even fatter than before, with the pouch of his belly almost dragging on the ground. The staff knows not to feed him, so I can only be impressed at his hunting prowess. As we all should be.
Other things have changed. Naturally. Change happens. But more or less, Shambhala Mountain Center is still Shambhala Mountain Center, with all its chaos and beauty. I’ll be working here for the next ten days, out of a cramped but cozy office on the west side of the Shambhala Lodge, right off the mud room so I can watch people come and go. I’ll be sleeping in the women’s dorm in Shotoku, not far from here, which is good, because I didn’t pack my heavy winter coat and I’ve been told they’re having a cool, wet spring. I don’t think I’ll sit, unless the mood really strikes me. At least, not in the shrine room. I’m sure I’ll while away many a quiet hour under the ponderosas watching the magpies dance just outside the kitchen door. I always liked that better anyway.
I had one day at home. The four days in Chicago with my folks was just lovely. We were all tired by Monday though. Mom and Dad’s knees held out better than I thought they would, especially considering the thousands of stairs we went up and down while riding the L. We saw Unity Temple in Oak Park and Robie House near the University of Chicago and a dozen points in between. I finally got to the Art Institute (third time’s the charm) and spent way too much on a fancy lunch in their fancy restaurant, sitting at the bar talking to a jet setting couple who splits their time between Chicago and DC (and a dozen other points). La. What a life.
The day I spent home doing laundry I kept looking around for my cat, but I’d left her at my folks. Mom and Dad have his and hers cats while I’m gone, since they don’t get along. Isis lives in the basement with Dad and Lucy lives upstairs with Mom. I always miss them, Isis especially. While Tiger is lovely, he’s not allowed in Shotoku to snuggle with at night.
When I left to head west on the train, Uncle Dean and Aunt Ina were in town visiting Grandma. I explained to them my future plans when they asked and they nodded politely. I’m sure I’ll get the scoop from Mom later about the actual reaction of the family, if there is one. But I did my duty. Mom said I had to tell them myself, especially Grandma; she wasn’t going to. I did.
I’m sure in ten days time my beige cube walls and nine to five will seem relaxing, but for now, this does, so I think that’s where I’ll be.