Tuesday, March 10, 2009
memoir magical journeys
I was inspired by Natalie Goldman's old friend from far away a viewing of Milk and my first trip to San Fransisco.
magic in journeys: June 1974
Perched on the royal blue aluminum framed Jantzen pack, I leaned my back against the sign post on the sweltering gravel of an Oregon afternoon. I remember the jumble of logs and the waterfall across the two lane highway. Things had gotten a little crazy leaving Seattle. My penchant for comic book heroines had gotten the best of me when I sized up the stumpy middle-aged business man who was looking for a mistress to hire for the week. I passed on the offer over a hot fudge sundae.
So I sat, my native skin all brown from the roadside tour and considered pairing up with the dirty blond guy 16 feet down the road. I was looking like Idgy Threadgood ( who hadn’t appeared on the movie screen yet) in my cut off jean overalls, my sleeveless tee and purple converse high tops instead of her rounded work boots.
“ Where you from?” I said. “Weymouth , Mass” he said, only a few towns up the coast from my home and as it turned out he knew my friend Desmond’s brother. Never mind Desmond’s brother was a bit of a black sheep I knew him too. So as the waterfall surged before us and the surf roared behind us we forged a brief traveling alliance to San Francisco.
In Coos Bay a red pick up truck pulled up driven by a chunky poet and his side kick. “We are goin to the mission district. Hop in back” he said.
In the church basement on Sunday afternoon, the women from the homeless shelter drew pictures of redwoods. Three redwoods with hearts on them and intertwined roots to make a strong community of trees on a white poster board on a card table. Their poster represented a love for community, a love of the earth and the interconnectedness of all things.
It had been too long since I had seen the giant trees from the bed of the pickup truck speeding along the coast to San Francisco. The ride that landed us whirring at midnight in the mission district. I poured myself into a luxurious bubble bath in a clawed foot tub. Effervescent as the bubbles after a five hundred mile ride in the open air along the coast, I disappeared in the soaking warmth for maybe a half hour.
The librarian’s apartment was a perfect haven not far from the legendary Haight. Poet home sitters, art and books, to top it off a little poem I had written years before, was published in that issue of a national magazine. I hadn’t been looking for it. As it had been such a long time since I had written it, but when I spied the magazine on a rack I looked through it and there it was. Wow! So I bought a pair of fluorescent fangs and rode the buses around the city in victory.
Later when walking about, exploring the fabled city, I ran into my friend who had left Amherst for Alaska and who I had crossed Canada with. It was incredulous. I inserted my fangs and grinned a giant smile. We talked for a few moments, Alaska wasn’t what he had been looking for so he had decided to head south . After our strangely brief meeting, we continued on our way as if in a dream.
Magic endures in moments large and small, from meeting an old acquaintance on a city street far away from anywhere we expected to be to the eagle that’s waits around every bend of the river we kayak on. The interconnected roots of the redwoods that stood for miles along the highway was hidden from me that summer. The magical interconnectedness that sparkles through my encounters with humanity on every journey each day still fills me with awe.