The Long and Winding Road

It felt strange to be back in the Bay Area.  I had lots of appointments and Things To Do, one of which was an annual doctor visit.  I’ve had the same doctor (and mechanic, too!) for the bulk of my life as an adult, which is pretty amazing.  She looked thoughtful while I answered her questions about my life now- after all, she’s seen me in Every Prior Incarnation Including The Ones With High Heels,  and this, perhaps, is not what anybody really expected I’d do.  It’s subsistence living, she said.  This is what our ancestors did.  And it must be REALLY STRANGE for you to be back here.  Indeed it is, I agreed.  But she got the concept of how one has to make ends meet here: You do lots of different things that come to fruition at different times so there is always something happening.  It’s a huge amount of work, which she kept repeating as though it were a mantra.  Mmmm hmmmm. In a further reminder, if one were needed, that it is a pretty small world, I found that the day before, someone who lives about 20 miles from us also made the trek down to see her.  Apparently a lot of people are moving up here.  Our move was somewhat inadvertent, but it does give one pause.  Because really? This is about as different a place from the Bay Area as you could imagine.  By every marker. Even though, while having a drink and watching the ocean the night before I left, I at long last learned the proper way to butcher and prepare a wild pig from the man sitting next to me at the bar.  I guess the thing is, here? Nobody would tell you anything, even if they knew it.  (“Pigs? “They’ll say. “Do a deer first.  Call me if you see any pigs, will you? I’ve got tags”  Uhm….never mind. )  Any speck of functional information is guarded as though it were the last, missing step on a treasure map.  We’re just now, after a year, finally hearing people tell the truth about the weather, for example.  Oh yeah! they’ll say now.  It gets HOT.  No shit, Sherlock.  What was that baloney you handed me last year about how it’s 80 most of the time.  OOOOHHHHHH, I get it! You meant at 4 am didn’t you?

Still, there are so many THINGS in the Bay Area, after all.  Things to buy! Stores! People! The energy of it all could be cut with a plastic picnic knife.  Everything going at pretty much top speed.  The driving has deteriorated past, perhaps, the point of no return.  The purpose of turn signals in one’s vehicle,  for example, is apparently a concept lost in the mists of time.  I was used to the U-Turn Rodeo going on there all the time, but the instant pull over into your lane by an onrushing vehicle, whether YOU are there or not, was a bit surprising.

It has to do, the effect of this move north,  for me anyway, with irrevocable and inescapable change.  Any time you have to change your reality it is a big jolt.  Few of us, perhaps, are aware of just how much input we have into what we think of as our daily reality.  We’re used to having external markers that help us navigate what eventually becomes a familiar landscape.  Somehow we think that- well, we think that reality is REALITY, in a way.  When it changes it is quite challenging indeed.  Another thing that comes into focus is the…universality of all things.  People are people, their strivings and hopes and fears are the same everywhere.  There may be more or fewer opportunities to partake of what this society has to offer but in the end we ARE all one, like a giant beating heart.  At the same time, when it seems as though you’ve gone to the end of the world and nothing- not one thing-  is as it was,  you’re no longer sure just what you thought it was before anyway, either.  Of course, this is precisely the time to withhold judgement, observe, and take it one day at a time with no expectations.  Boy, doesn’t that sound like fun??  See how easy.

I do, indeed, miss my friends, almost more than you’d think one could stand.  Chinese poets of ancient dynasties, drinking wine out of saucers at far flung outposts of empire, looking into the sky with broken hearts, wiping their eyes on their long sleeves and writing mournful couplets for their absent friends with long handled brushes and dark inks, somehow sprang to mind.  At the same time, I’m more sure than ever that there is a wholeness to things which also includes a rightness that is often beyond anything we can get or assimilate or understand rationally.  I don’t regret any of this, at last.   Because, after we finished discussing the Impending End of the World at my previously written about haircut, my Genius Hair Guy told me he felt the animals all around me, and the Power of a Bear in my heart.   See? How Easy.

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