by Baye Miller
The hectic nature of traveling cross-country mixed with the fear and nervousness associated with moving into a new phase of your life made for both a physically and emotionally exhausting day. My shoulders immediately relaxed at the sight of Steve’s (Tivnu’s founder) warm smile and sleeveless shirt. After speaking with Steve on the phone and emailing with him back and forth, he was exactly what I had expected. The friendly New York Jew whose kindhearted and warm spirit called him towards the unbelievably friendly city of Portland, Oregon. After packing up the van, Reuben, Richard, Josh, Steve and myself all headed towards the house that I was certain appeared in an episode of Portlandia. As my eyes wandered over the tan siding and large front porch, I could finally internalize the notion that this is where I would be living for the next nine months. Who knows what would happen in these next nine months. Who knows the type of person I would be when I would walk out of this house for the last time at the end of May.
We schlepped all of our luggage up a mountain of stairs with the help of the already arrived housemates who were more than happy to see us. Even though no one vocalized their feelings, I could tell we were all feeling that same nervous excitement about the nine months to come. The house already possessed the homey feeling especially because dinner was waiting for us in the kitchen. I could sense the caring hard work and detailed planning that it took to get this house ready for us.
In the next few days we got a taste of Portland’s unique nature. The scavenger hunt sent us all around Portland looking for all sorts of fun and important things that we would eventually become familiar with. The next day Marissa (Tivnu’s Program Coordinator) took us on a walking tour of downtown Portland. The site from the Broadway Bridge contained an amazing blend of forest trees, flowing river water, and a beautiful city skyline. Most cities seem squished, dingy and impatient but following the road less traveled, Downtown Portland was spacious, clean, green, courteous and possessed a relaxed patience unlike any other. The excitement continued when we entered Powell’s Bookstore. The aisles were endless. The smell of aged book in the air was intoxicating and I wanted to spend the entire day exploring, but the call of hunger was growing louder and more sonorous by the minute. Powell’s wasn’t the only thing to take up an entire city block. Next came the food trucks. This Portland stereotype was verified by what seemed like an endless amount of food trucks. Deliciousness, well-priced Indian food, and feelings of gluttony ensued. The Portlandish fun continued after dinner when we made our way to Last Thursday, the arts and music festival that happens the last thursday of every month. Last Thursday embodied the bumper-sticker value of keeping Portland weird. Uniqueness radiated from each booth. The uniqueness ranged from organic cotton candy to animal tails for sale.
The eventful few days tied together beautifully with a delicious Shabbat dinner put together by a few but enjoyed by all. Sitting around the Shabbat dinner table I felt pure excitement for the many Shabbat dinners to come. Who knows what kind of transformations would take place in the next nine months. The only certainty I could rely upon is next friday’s shabbat dinner with people who will end up having an enormous impact on my life, and I could not be more excited.