Archive for February, 2013
Silent, steady, the full moon rises, higher and higher above the Valley of the Moon. From my perch at the top of North Signal, I watch in awe. She is so still, so brimming with light, brighter and brighter each time I glance up. The mountains too stand steady in their strength and abiding solitude. All I can do is root my feet, take a deep breath, and allow myself to feel the moment.
The full moon casts a spell of enchantment on the valley. You can wander the trails and streets by the light of the moon and see—but not be seen, except by wild animals. For just a little window of time, you can shed the years and wander carefree, letting your dogs take the lead. You pass houses where you lived long ago . . . you walk a trail that you once followed, on a moonlit night like this, wearing a flowing, white, hippie wedding dress, when you were young and slender and had no idea how beautiful you were . . . when you poured your hopes and dreams into a man who later confessed he was drawn to you like a moth to a flame. But even making love by the light of the moon couldn’t cast out his memories of Vietnam . . .
Last night, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I made a list of all the men in my life, going all the way back to my first boyfriend at age 15, the Catholic one up the street who set me on fire. That fire was promptly extinguished when my fanatical Pentecostal father told his Catholic father in no uncertain terms that I could not date a Catholic. My old dad confessed his part in this out of the blue a few years ago, adding remorsefully, “I should have let you go out with that young man. He was much better than the ones that came afterwards.”
It’s a long list—almost 50 years’ worth of relationships, including my first marriage at age 18 followed by two more . . . all the living-together arrangements—an endless stream of boyfriends, one after the other, with no real alone space in between. It’s total poetic justice that, after all that obsessing, the shocks, the crying, the heartbreak, the horrible suffering, after all the years of marriage counseling, couple retreats, untold books on relationship as a spiritual path, after all that incredible agony and awesome ecstasy, that I should now find myself not applying the wisdom I’ve gained to a relationship but to finally standing psychologically solid on my own two feet.
I sit here in my kitchen, sunlight streaming through the sliding glass door, ignoring yesterday’s dirty dishes, reveling in being alone. The writer in me remembers the thrill of hearing a delivery boy knock on the door to hand me a beautiful bouquet of flowers in a glass vase or pretty wicker basket, always with a festive ribbon and a little white envelope with a sweet message inside. Then later getting picked up in a red convertible and driving off full of hope and anticipation with a handsome-devil boyfriend, going off for the weekend to a romantic bed and breakfast . . .
I feel no need to burn the journals where I scribbled furiously in my efforts to make sense of it all. Once in a while I look at the love letters, photo albums, and romantic cards I’ve saved through the years . . . all these material reminders of past Valentine’s Days. If I had not had all these experiences, would I be this content alone? Everything that ever happened was a hard-won lesson on the road to peaceful singledom.
I originally wrote the Post below on April 24, 2007. Today’s Post is a reminder to myself to finish the story mid February, 2013
It dawned on me that it was 40 years ago (1967) [now 45 years] that I took the Greyhound bus from Ventura to San Francisco and rented a room on the third story of a house on Haight Street.
I was 17 years old. I had enough credits to graduate early from Nordhoff high school. While my classmates were still in prison, for the first time in my life, I was free to draw around the clock with Bob Dylan and Simon and Garfunkle in the background. I could sit for hours on the window ledge, in my painted jeans, watching the unfolding hippy invasion below. From my third story perch I could spot Janis Joplin in the crowd and hear Country Joe and the Fish playing nearby.
Imagine growing up in the small town of Ojai and suddenly finding yourself transported amongst 20,000 people dancing in Golden Gate Park! The documentary showed the Human Be-In, a Gathering of the Tribes, and all the great counterculture gurus.
I remembered how I made money selling my psychedelic drawings ($5 to as high as $25 each), babysitting the young children who lived in the first story apartment below, and peddling the Berkeley Barb.
You could buy a ten pound bag of brown rice for $1 and get clothes, shoes, and other essentials at the Free Store. When I ran out of rice I fasted to protest the Vietnam War. My AWOL boyfriend was picked up by the military police in the dead of night and locked up in the Presidio.
Did anyone else see the PBS special last night? Did you see yourself? As I stretched forward in Seated Wide Angle Pose I had this great cosmic insight that we’re all still trying to turn on, tune in and drop out… Is that what growing older is all about?
To be continued
45 years ago the Beatles went to India: http://brightstarevents.net/viewArticle.cfm?id=125
My cats are so excited, hopping into and around the boxes; they can feel the erratic energy flying around. It’s all there—except for the early journals from the 60s that, in an attempt to free me from the past, a boyfriend had me burn. (So these journals go back to the 70s and 80s)
It remains to be seen why I feel compelled to turn my kitchen into an office so that I can arrange all these crazy life stories into the form of a book; it may just be for my own integration. I only know that, unless I do this, I cannot sleep. I have this idea that, if I spread everything out in the open, then when I wake up at 2 a.m. I can go right to my writing table and in nine months birth my next book.
I’ve already laughed in the face of all the obstacles. It is so blatantly obvious that money is not always a true measure of success. Nor is lack of money always a true measure of failure. (I have a stack of books by authors who died in poverty and were buried in unmarked graves. I hope that doesn’t happen to me.)
When I see rock star yoga teachers teaching mega classes with hundreds of students, I remind myself that this phenomenon occurs in every belief system. In the religious world there are wildly successful charismatic ministers with mega services that, in their size, leave mega yoga classes in the dust.
When I visit my parents, I’m reminded that there is no end to the belief systems in this world and no lack of evidence to substantiate just about any belief, from far left to far right to heaven above and hell below. My dad is so looking forward to seeing his mother, who died decades ago, in heaven—he mentions her every time I visit. He is surrounded by books on the afterlife—a far different afterlife than the one described in metaphysical books, but equally compelling.
My journals reflect the mind of a mad woman who has possibly thrown out the baby with the bathwater. But at least I’m aware that I’m insane. I recall some years ago challenging the reality of a longtime friend with dementia. She looked me square in the eye and told me in no uncertain terms, “Don’t you think that if I’d lost my mind I’d be the first to know it?” (Found this gem in my journals, too.)
I don’t mind if the whole world subscribes to the Law of Attraction that says like attracts like, you attract what you need, and you create your own reality. It doesn’t matter to me what people believe, so long as they don’t mind if I don’t believe it!
Yes, there is karma and there are laws of nature, but I cannot in good conscience pretend that I know how it all works. That North Korean sociopath dictator who sits in his palace while his starving people reportedly turn to cannibalism is not rich because of good karma. The young woman killed yesterday by the Taliban was caught up in circumstances beyond her control. I don’t believe she attracted being tortured and shot.
My own life has not been a life-and-death drama, but my journals reveal the heavy religious conditioning, the brainwashing from birth, the deeply embedded patriarchal belief system I was born into.
On March 3, 1996, I wrote these words on the road to freedom: “Over and over I see that, for me, my relationship with the man in my life is the core of my life . . . it is either cultural conditioning or my female nature. Maybe when I’m 50, after men-o-pause, I won’t be like this, but today [and all the years prior] I am in this [incomplete] state . . . ”
Underneath this telling entry I wrote down my horoscope for the week of March 7-14, which asked: “Can you build a bridge and burn it at the same time?”
Fifteen years later I can unequivocally say, “Yes!”
As if life itself isn’t strange enough, then there’s the dream world. Last night I was in a hotel room with a man from my past. In real life he was a healer—a successful, movie-star-handsome doctor. But he was also a wounded child, addicted to sex and drugs, with posttraumatic stress syndrome from his years in Vietnam. Our ten years together eventually woke me up to the shadow side of relationships.
In the dream, many years had passed since I’d seen him. He was claiming that he was now rehabilitated, and I was supposed to trust him. He was still young, lying nearly naked on the bed, smiling with need and beckoning me to come to him with that same “I want you” look on his face as when we were together. But I felt nothing, no sexual pull . . . just a sense of obligation.
I said, “It’s been a long time since I’ve had sex. It’s going to take time for me to trust you.” And just as I said that I noticed an insect crawling on his pillow—a scorpion. I looked again and saw another one, and another one, and then I realized that they were everywhere, all over the floor, and that I had already been stung on the leg but hadn’t noticed it. I shouted, “We’ve got to get out of here!” and ran out and closed the door.
When I woke up, I scribbled all this down in my journal. And, as I wrote, I saw how each man in my life was like a symbol, representing a world I thought I couldn’t touch on my own.
[My editor says, “Develop/expand on this last thought, Suza!” And I say, “I will!”]