It‘s totally different for everybody. It is the same thing in the end. We are over 40. We are over the Half of our life. The regrets of what wasn‘t. The regrets of what was. The regrets of what could have been. They all creep up on you one night after a bottle of Retsina. That bottle of wine. The one that is a reminder of being invited to Greece from a man who had a crush on you for 20 years. That reminds you of all the days of love and pain in those 20 years. Every drop for a week… every week for a cell of my body until there is a large chunk gone and I am wondering how I am going to survive floating in my own space while the sharks swim around the stars searching for a bleeding soul like mine.
Those days are gone and my heart feeling all of it. My heart thinks its 20 years ago and I can still go back. I can go back to that night on the beach where it all began. Back to the day when it almost all ended so that I wouldn‘t be sitting here tonight in this drunken stupor writing my story. I survived. That is a difference between me and everybody else. My story is not like any one else’s.
I have made life altering decisions due to fear, due to love. Some enlightened me. Some almost killed me. I have traveled to another country for love and gave everything away for that ideal. That ideal that was a mirage in the wake of a loneliness that I was avoiding. 14 years later it smashed down on me and while I was getting my bearings, I didn‘t see the sandy shores that I was to be washed up on.
I am wet, tired and alone. I am learning that we are all essentially alone. My story is different than anyone else’s, but everyone’s story is different than anyone else’s and everyone has a story of their own. This is mine.
whispering in my ear the same story it’s told me over a 1000 years.
I understand nothing as before.
Nothing becomes the truth again
and again I let it in my bed, consuming me until I fall to ash.
It creeps along beside me… can’t get away from it. It’s long fingers reaching for me, trying to hold me down. I tried to weaken it by cutting off the thumb, then I tried tricking it by trapping it behind the heater, but it came back… reaching again, reminding me of what I left behind.
As it grappled itself free, I saw its palms… no lines?! Its hands were Gummi-like with no markings of time… confusing me more.
I realize that growing up means I can’t run from this thing I fear anymore. So, I stopped and stood still as it crawled with its long legs out from behind the heater. My heart began to flutter as if a neurotic bat was forcing the beats with its wings.
I hoped it couldn’t feel my fear as it came close, resting Its fingers on my neck – lingering as I stood still. Its hands, warm and soft, could easily wrap around my throat. It didn’t grasp at me though, but gently held me. It was as if it were concentrating on the little bat beats that were pumping blood through my veins. It was terrifying. I felt it had the ability to destroy me… it already made me question my reality.
Nonetheless, I couldn’t get away. I had to stand up to it. Its face now near mine – I could feel its breath. Its scent surprisingly warm and familiar, smelling of morning dew and past memories.
Huh? What the fuck? I felt as if I had fallen into a lost dimension.
Creepily, something in me whispered “listen to it.” I shuttered and then gave in and shut my eyes letting go. I could feel my heart slow, but every beat pounded harder. My fear continued but I surrendered and waited.
With its hands still holding me, its deep voice uttered quietly, “No goodbyes…” It took a second to understand and then it hit me and hit me hard. All of the sudden my body relaxed, and I cried.
I was exhausted from being afraid and always the patient one.
“Where is my rabbit?” Came into my head. “Will he come and take care of me? Or will he be an ape in disguise like the others.” I thought of the bugs bunny cartoon “I will love him and cuddle him and call him George.”
The entire time It was still there, waiting. Too tired from this craziness, my legs gave out and I fell into It. Catching me, hugging me tightly It said nothing and let me cry. I felt as if hours had passed in minutes. I started to feel me – remember me again. I spent all this time hoping, slowing down, and waiting for something that would never catch up.
It was all clear now: I saw the past and the present in one moment and knew I was too late and also too early for what I wanted. I had lost my chance before I had one. I needed to move on and refocus but that required letting go of the dream.
All this fucking self-awareness was too much. I felt ill from thinking and feeling. I wanted to vomit.
Goddamn emotions! Seeing how I really feel is something I’ve mastered at ignoring… This is too much.
Suddenly I felt a rumbling in my stomach. I was definitely on my way to vomit city! The creature so lovingly holding me, helped as I rolled over to spew.
For a brief moment, as I was leaning over its arms everything stopped. I looked down and noticed we weren’t in my kitchen anymore (hello Toto?). We were in a field with white daisy’s scattered in lush grass – like some scene from a kitschy fairy tale.
Then the rumbling started again, my stomach took over. ‘HEAVE!’ At that moment I felt the oddest sensation in my throat and then mouth – a Finn?! As I coughed it out, a 2-foot-long fish showed itself! A fucking coy?
It was red/orange and gold. This fish I just vomited, lying in the grass below me with these eyes! They were like his eyes – a brutally, beautiful green-blue that I knew so well. Like looking at two planet earths from the moon. But these eyes, the way they looked at me seemed to know me too.
Of course, it wasn’t him! Then again, nothing in this “Twilight Zone”-spacetime was working within the laws Physics.
While I was concentrating on this bizarre turn of events, the creature that helped me along this very emotional journey looked at me serenely and started to walk away.
“Wait! Stop! I don’t want to remember all this alone.” It kept walking. I got mad „What? You help me see all this shit and then leave me?! Please?” Nothing… and gone it was, leaving me with the Coy/him, alone. I had to face this someone (now a fish) that I missed so dearly.
“The dragonflies are gone. The summer is over. Ironically, I had to tell you goodbye with it all. It was supposed to make it all easier, but it just feels wrong.” I said to the fish, while it stared at me.
That’s it – I’m crazy.
“You need water!” I said. As I looked around, I saw a pond. “Really?! I stop being afraid and this all starts getting super cheesy.” I muttered to myself as I grabbed the koi/him from his grassy bed. As beautiful as he was, he was slippery, making him difficult to hold. Nonetheless, he remained still.
I carried him in my arms, his weight much more than I could bear, but I managed to get him there. Bending down I put him in the water and let go. “Bye… again.” (who knows? Could be he hears me).
I looked up to a cawing in the trees. All this was happening while a Crow was watching us from above. I wondered what it could be thinking, watching some crazy women puke a fish and then talk to it like it was her friend.
When I put my focus back on the pond, I thought he’d be gone. Surprisingly, he didn’t swim away. I bent back down placing my hands back in the water. He swam around them, tickling my fingers with his lips – making me giggle like a little girl. A feeling I had almost forgotten. It felt good – as if it were really him.
Playing with the idea that this could be real, I carefully pet his shiny, scaly body as he continued, slowly circling my hands. I shut my eyes and felt him there, stroking his face for a while. My heart swelled with a combination of sadness and appreciation. I felt as if it all would be ok. That we found a way. I thought, “I can visit him here… I can see him again.” But I realized I didn’t know where here was. I realized I this wasn’t real – I was actually dreaming. It all made me understand that letting go doesn’t mean goodbye.
It was at that moment that there was nothing. I opened my eyes and he and the pond were gone, along with this fairy world. Like a psychedelic trip, it fell away as sheets falling from a clothesline – exposing my old world, with a new twist. Reality is questionable but fairy tales impossible. I had to be sad now and finally feel sad he’s not there, instead of pushing it away.
I grabbed a glass of water, sat at my table back in my kitchen and stared out the window, letting it all in, letting it all go – with no idea of what will happen next.
I have spent the last three weeks with my family in Southern California (laguna beach where 2 sisters and mom live) and Austin Texas (oldest sis, her family, and my dad and his wife). I went to Highschool in laguna beach – one of the most beautiful places in the world, but so unavailable to someone from NY. The conversations I still hear on the sidelines are mostly about what color nail polish should I get, or who does your plastic surgery… (tiny exaggeration). That’s why I left.
I moved to Oakland to study, but that is where I met my second family. A very close-knit group based on a common ground in youth that held us together through the years – Punk.
When I arrived in Oakland I made friends with Ed, Ben, and Jerry. They accepted me and pulled me into a world that made me feel normal- unlike the bikini tanned south. A belly didn’t matter, a crooked nose was sexy. They showed me that “good” looks were about character and not about perfection. They showed me what substance meant, what solidarity, loyalty, and honesty are. I was in my early 20’s, but this is where I grew up. It was a world of tolerance for oddities and a want for independent thinkers and creativity. I found a world that made sense. It was hard at first. The females at the time took a while to warm up to me. There were a few that accepted me right away. Enya was one of them. She taught me how to be less insecure about being different.
We went to shows and old man bars and had parties and barbecues. We played pool and went to the Parkway in groups watching films like Purple rain with 30 of us singing at the top of our lungs. We just wanted to laugh and have fun and feel accepted in a society where we felt like rejects for not agreeing with the “Norm” Main Stream Ideologies. It saved us to have places to see bands and events organized by energetic individuals who wanted to make things happen.
Since then a lot has changed. Almost everyone doesn’t “look punk” anymore, though some still do. Many have gotten good jobs and bought houses and some have started families. In the end, most all still meet up for shows and even protests. They may agree or disagree about politics, but they still believe in solidarity and how the scene gave us a place to be.
The good that comes with a large family of about 300 people (for me) can also be painful. Loving so many means that many more heartaches when they pass. Some by suicide, some by drugs or alcohol, and others mysteriously just pass.
On Sunday, a very important human to many in the scene died – Murray Bowles. He was the documentarian of the scene. He was almost always seen with a camera. When he took a photo of you, it made you feel a part of something big. He made you feel special with a click! He was also extremely kind. When someone needed money, because they were putting out a record, he helped. When one friend had to go home and take care of their family, he bought the ticket. He cared and that is golden.
From the day I met him in 1997 up until I saw him last April at a punk festival in Bath, UK, he was sweet and respectful still with an odd statement now and then. He was beautiful in his uniqueness. His death came as a shock for 1000’s of individuals (bands all over the world that he photographed over at least 40 years) that are mourning his passing. I wish I had an eloquent way of saying this, but all I can say is it’s so fucking sad to say goodbye and it sucks. RIP Murray.
Sometimes I have visited a place and sometimes a person. Albuquerque was the latter. I’ve been there before. I get no feeling from the city. It always felt like a train stop that expanded. Nonetheless, I had a wonderful visit! As much as I want to express how my time there was, I don’t think I can put in words how I actually felt, and don’t really want to. I can say that sometimes we leave a place to go towards some other place and sometimes we leave a place because we have to – even when we don’t want to.
This might give a better impression of what I mean:
After Oljato, I met up with one of my oldest friends for a whirlwind trip.
On the way south, I drove from red sandy earth through mountains with evergreen forests. The drive from Utah to Tucson is beautiful and fun. As I reached flagstaff I had to listen to the Route 66 cover from Depesche Mode – https://youtu.be/AwPV3qJegEE
I was singing and laughing as I drove past “Flagstaff Arizona…” It smelled good there… then just a few hours south and you’re back in a desert! I stopped to get gas just south of Phoenix in what appeared to be a cactus forest. It was so alien to me, and beautiful.
Mary Jo took me in her tiny apartment in Berkeley when I was couch surfing for two months, staying two weeks at a time with people. Worried about me, she let me have her spare bed. I think it was for 4 months until I could find a home. I was 23 and she was 49. She taught me about Lou Reed and Jewish breakfasts. She had lived in LA in the 70‘s being a free spirit… which never left her. Age is only on the outside with this woman. Being with Maryjo is being with family. Its so easy, I don’t have to think.
Parked on the road next to the station was a truck selling ammunition! I remembered where I was. Open gun laws. It’s odd to think that anyone you talk to in Arizona has a gun on their person. Still the place of cowboys who won’t let the old west die. Fortunately I was heading to Tucson, where trump is the enemy and borders are theoretically looser.
Mary Jo took me to a storytelling night just after I had arrived. She stood on the stage telling everyone how happy she was her friend was visiting and made me stand up! So uncomfortable, but so sweet.
She showed me in the middle of this very conservative Arizona, Tucson is a liberal heaven with a huge LGBTQ community. At the last mayoral elections, there was no republican in the race! It’s full of cacti and character. This was a place I felt I could live.
She drove me to Tombstone to see the hokey tourist trap and the following day to her favorite cactus.
It was a great catch up and reconnecting. I missed her over the years and had wondered if we would have ever met again.
As I packed the rental to head back up to Albuquerque, she looked worried. “I’m being the mom now!” she worried about me, a woman alone driving through deserts for 7 hours. I hugged her and told her I love her. “I’ll be fine.” Than got in the car and honked as I passed. I left feeling loved, promising myself to return soon.
After Oakland I went to the south west. The world of cowboy films and my childhood. I played cowgirl when I was a kid and was raised with the idea I was a 16th Cherokee (later to find it was a lie from great grandparents). I imagined living with the tribes and other child dreams in that Genre. I fought with the tribe and with Wyatt Earp, Billy the kid and Doc Holliday. Therefore I had to see the places of my fantasies.
I started in Albuquerque, where I met my friend Mark. We know of another from Oakland 24 years ago but really met in Bath, UK this past April at a reunion of old friends. I could go into the details of how that unexpectedly happened, but that’s not my story here… Anyway, after 7 months we finally met again and as if we last saw another only a few weeks ago. I finally saw his historical and slightly haunted home (from the 1800s) and met his fabulous dog/wolf of who I fell in love with – despite the plumes of statically charged hair that stick to everything possible. Black clothing is not wise around this pup- took 20 minutes to remove the hair from one sweatshirt before I left on my 6 hour journey west to Oljato-Monument Valley (Oljato-Monument is on the Navajo reservation – aka Dinè as I’ve been told they call themselves).
In 2005 I had planned a road trip around this stop with my friend Kriddel. We started in NY and drove to LA. On the way from Santa Fe, NM we took a wrong turn… 4 hours wrong!We had to get to las vegas to get our motel room or we would have lost it (it was the last Motel in the middle of Las Vegas. We wanted the trashy old school feel). Therefore, I had to postpone my dream of seeing monument Valley. I was so sad and slightly annoyed with myself- my mistake. It’s not an easy place to get to, but then came Mark and 14 years later another opportunity! 6 hours from Albuquerque was the best option I had yet found combined with a sweet catch up.
I drove towards The Valley with dog hairs still flying past me and omg! I thought the isle of skye was unbelievable. It was so breathtaking, that I almost drove off the road! Not a good idea in a desert.
During the drive over, I was hoping my cabin was going to be as in the photos but prepared for the worst. It is so beautiful there, that I would have been happy with just clean.
As I turned onto Navajo drive, I was glad I rented an all-wheel-drive SUV. The roads were only of red dust and up a steep hill. I kicked the 4wd in and woohoo, that was fun!
Along the road were very few houses and a few tiny cabins – all sweet and mine better than the photos! The view even more splendid. After I got myself situated, I sat on the porch watching the sunset over rock formations that are so massive, it’s difficult to fathom.
At night the moon and stars lit up the earth. The forms of jutting rock are slightly visible in front of the starry sky and of course, sitting on the porch smoking a cigarette I saw a shooting star pass. I closed my eyes and imagined a campfire, listening to the sounds of the dogs barking as the day closed.
I then decided to make a fire in the wood stove in the cabin. It was 55F out and without a heater, I thought it wise. Now, because I don’t really know what I am doing, I put too much wood in and was melting like it was June in November! Typical.
The following day I woke with a freezing room (because it burned too fast) and a swollen throat (turned into Strep a few days later)… with a 3-hour tour ahead (no Gilligan’s Island reference here…). I went to breakfast at Goulding’s lodge and trading post (historic point in the area) because I was told that’s where all the locals go. I got Navajo friebread! Omg! Fabulous. Then drove to the Navajo park to meet my guide. I showed up to meet Bobby and he found no reservation from me. He snuck me in anyway.
Off we went in an uncovered wagon attached to a suv with a blanket on my lap. It was exactly what I needed because I was feeling so sick.
3,5 hours went fast. It was beautiful and culturally enriching and so worth it. Bobby and I talked a little about his life and not just generalities.
It’s another country on the reservation – the original and surrounded by the occupiers.
After, I went to the Navajo Community Center instead of some tourist place to have lunch. Mutton soup with frei bread dumplings… I gained 2 pounds there!
Later I met Skye (26?)- the owner of where I stayed. He is half Dinè, studied business in Germany and returned turning his dads land into a business. He told me how Land is given out and they can use it for whatever they wished. He said it is like a different country on the Res.
Everything is done differently there than in the rest of the US. It’s peaceful and everyone is kind. There is more respect in Oljato. Would be nice if that spilled over to the rest of the states.
As the day closed and I prepared for the long drive to Tucson, I sat one more time on the porch watching the sun set, realizing how lucky I am to live this fucking amazing life and to experience all this beauty. Then I lit the fire, and couldn’t get it started at all! Oh well, at the end of it all, I’m just a city girl.
In the states we celebrate Halloween. On the 31st of October, everyone gets dressed up in some kind of costume. Kids get dressed up and their parents take them to each door with a light on, ring the bell and the kids say “trick or treat!” Usually it’s treats they get (haven’t experienced the trick part, myself). The costume doesn’t necessarily have to be scary, though the original tradition is that the spirits are free on that day and you dress up to scare them away, or blend in (depending on the source information). I prefer humor over horror.
As a kid, sometimes the parents go all out… sometimes staying up all night to make you a costume. My mother did this in 1984 when I was 10. She made me a full rabbit suit, so I could go to school with my best friend Sarah, in a matching bunny costume and walk in the school parade through town!
Because I’m traveling, I couldn’t take the time to create an elaborate costume (one time I dressed up as a Truck driving, serial killer and had my friends kid put bloody handprints on my boots).
I decided this year to get a child’s superhero costume from a local drugstore, than cut it and duck tape it to myself. Unfortunately, after two days of searching, I couldn’t find one… so I took what I had and added a few accessories! I was a French Spy!
All I really wanted was to get dressed up and greet the little Demons. Fortunately, my friend Heidi likes decorating her home on Halloween like some people do for Christmas! I met two other friends there and had so much fun with the little treaters (and Heidi’s new adorable, toothless, farting dog).
Larry decided to stand still outside amongst the Halloween decorations and wait for people to walk by to scare them. To his dismay, no one came past the house by that time (it was funny how long he waited). The kids stop around 8pm.
People spend hours, sometimes days making haunted houses (as Siobhan did for work at the social welfare office). You really only have a few hours to show, but it’s so worth it.
Halloween is my favorite time of year! It’s the one day that strangers (in costume) can easily talk with another without it being creepy (like me getting on the BART – I reached for a pole and realized I was grabbing a lightsaber- the guy was dressed as Obi wan kanobi! We laughed). No matter your social status or style, every person is equal on Halloween- everyone is free to be silly and laugh! A dream world for me.
It was a wonderful Halloween! Siobhan, Larry and Heidi, know how to have fun with just staying in! Fabulous…
The stars are so bright north of the Bay Area. The town of Monte Rio is like out of a film. Redwoods are everywhere, closely packed between wooden houses that have Christmas lights along the balconies and railings. The houses are built up high, because the river sometimes overflows. For every inch of rain in the area, the Russian river gets a foot of water. That’s why the homes are built up.
I stayed at the Roadies. Pete has been a roadie for punk bands since the 80’s. He was the guy! Paula played in one of the first female American hardcore punk bands from California. She than become a tour manager. He is English and they met on tour. They married in Bath, Uk and lived their for years. In the early 2000’s they moved back to the states, bought a house in Oakland. They then bought a house up here and after sometime, realizing the city life was too much – commuting hours over the bay bridge – they needed calm. They sold their home in Oakland and now live in the woods with “lumber jacks, construction workers, Hicks, punks and retirees”. It’s a small town and the locals accepted these two punks (he with his spiked grey hair and her tiny stature but a will of a bull).
They live the American dream. They made it here and live in what I believe to be one of the most beautiful places. It’s very calm and very open.
When we arrived, after driving past the fires in Sonoma, she had tamales made for us. We received warm hugs and caught up on what’s going on with another.
I met them in 2003 (I think). We’ve never been close, but I have always liked and respected them. Pete is hysterical – always makes me laugh, and has a heart of gold as she does too. The most reliable people one can imagine.
Unfortunately due to the Kincaid fires (All most likely because of crappie electric company wires combined with global warming), our time together was cut short, but it was sweet.
Being there was wonderful. It smells good and it’s so quiet. I could live here if it were at all possible. But for now my life is in Germany.
After we evacuated from the north, the following day I realized I had been traumatized by the Laguna Beach fires of ‘93. I had no idea. It’s not like you come into a situation like this, normally. I realized after we returned, after a friend asked me to drive her up to Sebastopol, I couldn’t. I was terrified. It wasn’t logical, because it was relatively safe, but I couldn’t. That is when it hit me that it left a mark.
I spoke to my friend Bunny about this today. She said some traumas lie dormant and only come up when a similar situation happens. I’m positive and have had a lot happen to me, so I move forward every time something bad has happened… but it’s true. Sometimes it just smacks you in the face and you cannot move.
The brain is a crazy thing…
Anyway all my friends up north are back home and safe with their dogs, ducks, cats and chickens. Not all have electricity, but it seems they are currently ok… though the fires are only 15% contained.
The day started normally for a vacation day. I woke and sat on the balcony looking at the stars over Monte Rio. It was 5 am – jet lag, I guess. I had some neck pain, so I went in the Jacuzzi and after sat in the sun with an amazing dog. It’s Paradise.
12 hours in and the word over the news: evacuation suggestion nearby. A warning…
We knew we would eventually have to evacuate because of the fires. We just were hoping it would pass us by. It’s not so difficult when you’re not leaving your own home behind. But when it’s yours, you push it off – denial? Hope? I don’t know.
I remember doing that in the ‘93 Laguna Beach fire. That was one of the 20 largest fire losses in U.S. History 16,000 acres and 400 homes.
I was 19. I had just returned home from the hospital, because of stomach issues. I packed a few of my paintings and a box of photos. I was still living at home with my mom. We left town hoping to make it safely out. Luckily the Ritz Carlton gave us a place to stay for a few nights.
The worst part was returning, though. On the drive back through the aftermath – smoke everywhere, houses gone, trees are gone. You pray that your home is still standing. It’s nerve-wracking, in a mom driving with the kids in the back, fighting for hours, kind of way.
This fire is much larger: “The Kincade Fire has burned 25,955 acres, forced more than 80,000 evacuations and destroyed 77 buildings. It is 11 percent contained.” Abc news 7 as of 9 pm.
We waited for hours realizing we will have to evacuate, but pushing it off. We drank 5 bottles of champagne between 10 people. It had an apocalyptic feeling, with this our reaction.
Two had fixed the carrier to the roof of the Jeep, as our friend received the notice for mandatory evacuation and told us we should probably go home.
We packed and offered to help, but there was nothing we could do. Everyone scattered to their homes to pack.
Some of these people I haven’t seen in 14 years! One had been through Katrina in New Orleans and another lived in Puerto Rico during Maria. There was a mix of emotions in the group: fear, fatalism, and a little shock. So we hugged them and I had tears from having to say goodbye so soon and empathy seeing them having to go through it again.
I’m sorry for those who have already lost their homes. I pray our friend’s homes will remain ok. Most importantly, everyone has safely evacuated.
Ed and his girlfriend, September and I drove up to Monte Rio to visit our friends the Roadies. As we drove up we past the Kincade fires. It’s crazy to see all that smoke. It was a clear sky day- no clouds and then we saw this:
Just now the emergency warnings for the surrounding areas of Windsor in Sonoma county. We’re not there… but the power will be tuned off tonight.
They now call it the fire season instead of fall (Autumn) here… and some still say there’s no climate change.
It’s like the end of the world in a way… so we decided to drink champagne and appreciate the friendships have while waiting to be told to evacuate… life is odd, but if you can stand together in the hard times (our friends risk losing their homes), than you will always be strong.