Husband #1 and I were married for fourteen years…about half of those were spent here in Portland. Our first real ‘home’ here was in what I lovingly referred to as “our little hippie house”, complete with an overgrown yard, drafty windows and beat up hardwood floors. I once saw a black widow near the back door, and we didn’t know we had a family of mice living in the kitchen until the first time I used the tiny oven. It was Thanksgiving, and for about a week after that we saw quite a few itty-bitty mice running around! (I’m really tempted to talk about how they ‘couldn’t stand the heat’ so they had to…you know…but I’ll be good.)
About a month later I had a few girlfriends from work stop by, and while sitting in the living room chatting, I ran my hand between the couch cushions and found what I thought was a rubber band…but which turned out to be the (attached) tail of a tiny semi-mummified mouse that one of the cats had apparently put there for safe-keeping! I held up my find in horror, and everyone screamed like…well, like girls.
That little house is where we lived when #1 first started expressing a really serious interest in Buddhism. He set up a small meditation area in the basement (a safe distance from the black widow zone), complete with cushions, incense, candles, etc. It was also in that home that I walked in one day to find #1 with his head completely shaved. Now, #1 always had a beautiful head of hair, and the shock by seeing him suddenly without it was…well, it was just wrong. The era of the Buddhist car salesman had begun.
The next few years were a bit rocky. I had a call center job, and #1 sold cars on and off, but trying to adhere to the Eightfold Path (the Buddhist equivalent of the 10 commandments) was a bit tricky. Suffice it to say that trying to ‘Work for the good of others’ (one of the eight principles) is pretty challenging when your job is to convince people to buy a car they might or might not be able to afford…with or without hair. It was a frustrating time, to say the least.
A few years later we moved into the bottom floor of a huge, beautiful old home that had been built some time in the early 1900’s. It had an amazing coved ceiling and fireplace in the living room, and still had the original dark wood trim and built-ins throughout the house. #1 and I were starting to drift apart, but we picked a beautiful home to do it in.
That house was close to a shopping area that was constantly littered with an assortment of hippies, runaway kids and Portland’s ever-present aging hipsters. One day while browsing through a gift shop on the crowded boulevard, I spotted the perfect gift for #1…a concrete yard Buddha. It was about 24 inches tall and HEAVY. I was parked a few blocks away and there were no open parking spaces on the busy street near the shop, so I decided to ‘man up’ and carry my treasure back to my car. In retrospect, that thing probably weighed about 70 pounds, and what was I thinking!? At the time…no problem!
The walk back to my car seemed to take forever, and I had to stop several times to shift the weight of the statue from one side to the other. I finally reached my vehicle and leaned the Buddha against the back bumper while I fumbled for my keys. Right then another car pulled up and stopped in the street about 10 feet behind me…and beeped at me to hurry so that they could take my parking space! (If that happened to me today, I’d just give them dagger eyes, but this was back when I tried to make everyone happy…so I hurried.) I juggled the statue (that now seemed heavier by the minute), and at some point I felt a…zing…not a pain exactly, but a bit of strange electricity that ran down the length of my back. I ignored it, managed to get the ever peaceful Siddhartha into the car, and we went home.
That statue was a perfect addition to the yard of our wonderful house, and #1 loved it…at least until it mysteriously disappeared about a month later. #1 thought someone from a local Buddhist temple ‘rescued’ it because they didn’t like that it was outside, but I just knew in my heart that a hippie took it. I have no idea why I thought a hippie would be willing to risk the bad karma that just had to be associated with stealing the Buddha, but for months, every time I walked or drove through our neighborhood I peered into the yard of any remotely suspicious house…tie dye or Tibetan prayer flags on the porch were like bulls eyes for me.
It was only another year or so before #1 and I split up. I guess I can’t blame the ‘hippie Buddha thief’ for that…#1 and I managed to do it all on our own. And, according to the Buddha, “Nothing is permanent”.
It was many years later before I found out that, as a result of my ill-fated shopping trip, I had managed to give myself a herniated disk and a back that would never fully forgive me. Karma being what it is, I’ve decided to not blame the Buddha for that. And he did say that, “Life is suffering”.
I’m ok with these lessons, even if I had to learn them the hard way. So far, I haven’t found the missing statue, but I’m guessing that the thief had his own share of karma to deal with. I still look twice at any house with peace symbols or yard statues though…just in case.