Tag Archives: Boulder

Boulder

I love Boulder. The first time I went to the city was with M. We were on our trip. Hitch-hiking alone across the country. It had rained on us before Boulder.

There isn’t much I recall. We spent most of our days on the mall. Not hanging out with the hippies. M and I didn’t spend much time with hippies.

We did spend time in the park. Laying out things in the sun to dry. This was a constant on our trip. Something never got dry. In Boulder the park is near the library. We slept an outside corner of the library building. Shocking in how easy it would have been to find us. But we didn’t get bothered.

I recall it started to rain. One day we were spanging. A man in a coat walked by as we asked for money. Then we saw he was a cop. I kind of thought we might be in trouble. I apologized. But he waved it off. Saying he was human too, and gave us some change. Boulder struck me as a friendly place.

Our last night we spent in a school bus. It was pounding down rain as we slept close. I love the sound of rain.

The next time I was in Boulder I was alone. It was after the gathering in Montana. I did tarot reading for money. I never made a lot, but I made enough. This is one of the best times of my life.

I woke up near the stream. Went to the park and did yoga. Ate healthy food from the local market. After breakfast I did tarot readings. It was a space I enjoyed. There were a few people I got to know. Afterwards I would eat dinner. Then I called M on the phone. We reconnected just before I got to Boulder.

All of the people I met were interesting. One man was sure the world was stacked against men. I don’t know he hated women. But it was borderline at times. We weren’t close. But we did talk. He took me out to eat a couple times. I try and accept people for who they are, not what they believe. It isn’t always easy. And it wasn’t easy with him.

I met some of the most amazing women of my life. One was named Otter. She did a Brazilian form of marshal arts. And was so hot. The way I met her was she just introduced herself one day. I see you all the time, it just felt right to introduce myself she explained. She had to amazing friends as well.

During my stay in Boulder, Otter made a trip to Arizona. I had a friend living in Tucson. So I went along to visit my friend. I remember driving with Otter. We would joke about getting hamburgers with bacon. She didn’t eat meat.

I had met Kai Butterfly at the gathering. But got to know her better in Boulder. She was there with her dog. I’ve always impressed by how beautiful she is at a deep level. One of the people I love profoundly.

There was a routine to this visit. I could have maintained it forever. Except the weather. I knew winter would come. It was time to go back to California.

The next visit was in 2001. Many of my memories involve a man named John. He was older and had a beard. He looked a little like Usama Bin Laden. A fact he said teens found to be cool after Sept. 11. I looked like someone their parents were afraid of, John explained.

John told me about chemicals in plastic. But not all his ideas were as sound. We spent a lot of time together and shared food. Again I was doing tarot to make money. One time I had a big salad I was eating. I could see John hesitate for a moment taking something out. But then he ate it. He told me later he didn’t know what he was eating. But figured he could trust me.

I’ve been picked on for years. And I guess without knowing I learned how to let it pass. While in Boulder, John said he learned this trick. He told the story of being at the library. The assistant made comment disparaging of him. But instead of engaging with the comment he just ignored it and walked away. It made me happy to think I had a positive effect on his life. I’ve lost touch with John and I miss him.

John told me he worked with Ayn Rand. I hadn’t read her books at the time. He had done some research for her. We spent time with some students of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. It was run by beat poet Anne Waldman. One of my favorite poems is written by her about Boulder. But John questioned her commitment to the school. The students weren’t happy. One time we saw her at dinner. I wanted to talk to her about the poem. But John accosted her about spending more time with the students. Which didn’t end well.

John was a bit crazier than the rest of us.

Boulder has a great library. And it has always been a spot I’ve spent much time. Not just using the internet. But also reading books. It felt comfortable. The whole town felt comfortable, the cost of living aside. If I could afford to live there I would in a second. But like many college towns it is far from cheap.

This visit was just before going to the Michigan gathering. I made a short stop on the way back as well. It was actually during the stop on the way back we met Anne Waldman.

The city of Boulder has a great pedestrian mall. For several blocks it has businesses, and wide walking space. People do performances in this space. People stop and rest. Some people eat and meet friends. It is a community space. On part of the mall is a playground for children.

But I also recall the creek running through town. The library was on both sides of the creek. With a connecting hallway. There was a long bike, walking path. It was in this park I spent much of my time. And where I did my yoga. I spent a lot of time just walking the bike path. Some would ride the creek in inner tubes. I imagine it would be a fun path to bike.

The last time I was in Boulder was in 2010. Having just gotten let go from the job in Wyoming. I had done some traveling and stopped in Boulder and my way home. It was a short visit. I was offered a job washing dishes. But I wanted to get home to Arcata. I took some photos. And I did a hike of the Flat Irons. An amazing hike. I miss Boulder.

Rainbow Gatherings

The first Rainbow Gathering I went to was in Oregon. I went with M. I hitched from Santa Cruz. And Met M in Eugene. From there it was east to the gathering. Near the town of Prineville.

We knew little about life at a gathering. We camped near the entrance. At this gathering parking was close. We camped alone. And had a hard time finding food.

At this gathering I didn’t explore much. I did talk to the Van Girl. It was a bit awkward. But it went well. We just chatted about what happened before. She asked about some shorts she loaned me. I had dumped them in the river. But I told her I lost them.

There was a big rainbow parachute at the gathering. People got underneath it. And if you pumped it right it would fill with air. Turning it into a giant cloth bubble. It would shrink back down. But pumping it again raised it back.

During the gathering M and I went to town. We weren’t eating much at the gathering. She sent for money from home. It took all day, and we were feeling down. At last the cash came in, and we bought food. We got food to share too.

One of the last nights we were at the gathering I ate some crackers. It was late near a campfire. The crackers were soft. Then I noticed they weren’t crackers. It was meat. I got sick for a couple days. On the way back to Santa Cruz I threw up. Alone with M in a strange town. Bent over throwing up in the gutter. Knowing anyone passing would think I was a junkie. But then I felt better.

The next gathering I went with Sean. I probably should have gone alone. I ditched him the first day. And didn’t see him until the last day. This time I camped with the Krishnas. There was two groups of Krishnas. Those who have no idea who they are, might be surprised to know there are factions.

The gathering was muddy. It rained a great deal. And there were huge flies. There were two access points for the gathering. Both were a good walk from parking.

I remember one area was particularly muddy. The trail became a muddy mess. I am sure people lost shoes. Maybe other things. And it grew and grew. People tried to walk on the edge, or around. But where ever people walked they killed the plants. Then with the water and no plants it turned to mud.

I ran into China at this gathering. I had met her years before in San Francisco. Another one of the many women in my life on whom I had a crush. But for whom I had no chance. I met her in San Francisco A friend and I were playing a joke on people. We walked up and down Haight Street. Have you seen our friends we asked. They have dreadlocks, were wearing hoodies, had a dog, wearing corduroy pants. They may have been getting into a VW van. Also they might not smell so great. Yeah, it could have been almost anyone on part of the street. Which was the joke.

At the gathering we spent time together with a guy who had some special drugs. He also had kava kava, which isn’t a drug. I took the kava kava and a pill. I felt so liquid an d tired and open. But most of all relaxed.

At this gathering I learned how to dig a spring. And before I left I dug one for the Krishna kitchen. Maybe I should write a chapter about Krishna as well.

There was a stream through the middle of the gathering. Some people were floating down the river. A friend of mine talked me into using her raft. But it was also her bed. I wasn’t sure, but she insisted. I’m not sure if I popped it. But it was a fun trip down the stream. I had to take all my clothes off not to get them soaked. Gathering don’t have laundry mats.

Later while digging a spring for the Krishnas I took off my pants. I was in the hole. They would have gotten wet and muddy. One of the Krishnas came over. He told me I should never be naked, because even when we are alone we could offend the sky.

There was another Krishna group at the gathering. A bigger one. I spend time at their tent too. Their guru was at the gathering. Christians also go to gatherings sometimes. They set up kitchens and talk to people about Jesus. Which is cool enough, as long as people don’t feel pressured. Gatherings really are places open to all ideas.

Towards the end of this gathering rumors started. The National Guard were coming. But they never did. The gatherings attract all sorts of people. The common bond is the desire to escape mainstream society. If only for a while. But some have paranoid ideas.

At the end of this gathering I met Pam. I had met Sean the same day, and he wanted to leave. Later I told him. I wasn’t ready. The time passed. I dug the spring. Then it was time to eat. I talked about our plans with a few people. It was getting dark. And I assumed we would leave the next day. When someone told me they found us a ride. It all happened for a reason.

The next gathering was Montana. This was a dry gathering. Having gone with a bus full of people. I camped near most of them. I ate at their kitchen, but also many others. At a gathering there are few rules.

No alcohol. Not in the gathering itself. I haven’t been in years and don’t know if this is enforced. There is a place called A Camp, next to the gathering where people drink. All the food is free. You are not allowed to trade food. And on the trade issue. There is a trade circle. But the use of money is not allowed. This is in part related to Forest Service regulations. At a gathering the Family Circle makes the decisions. This is a meeting held every day, and anyone can attend. Anyone can speak. And anyone can vote. The model is based on consensus. Which sometimes means the most persistent win. This group votes on where the gathering is held the next year.

This is anarchy in the best way. A girl once shared a story. She was walking along a trail. Some people were trying to trade rice. The girl told them you couldn’t trade food at a gathering. But the wouldn’t listen. We can do whatever we want this is a gathering, the retorted. So she picked up the food and walked away. You can’t do that, they yelled.

“This is a gathering, I can do whatever I want,” she replied.

At gatherings people sleep in tents. Or in cars in some cases. Food comes from free kitchens. These kitchens are supported by a range of people. Some people will have small kitchens. One year there was a ramen kitchen. All you need is water and noodles. It was popular. Religious groups serve food. They use it as outreach. But other groups get involved too. And some Rainbow tribes. I have long felt most of the support comes from a few. People who work all year to be able to go to a gathering. I know some owned businesses. They would close every year and go to the gathering.

Trading was done at the trade circle. Greed was one reason there was no money. But I heard many talk about trading up. How they planned to get an item. Or bragging about their trades. You don’t need money to be greedy.

Law was enforced by Shanti Sena. In theory this was everyone. Say you were being robbed. You would shout, “shanti sena.” Anyone who heard would run to your aid. The reality is a small group did most of this work. They had radios like real cops. They walked around like cops. But there were not bad people. And neither are real cops. And sometimes the shanti sena system worked. I do not know much about process. There was little if any crime.

And then there were the real cops. Most from the Forest Service. They were called LEOs by some. Law Enforcement Officers. The most common term was six-up. When you saw a cop you yelled. It was meant to let others know. Some of these officers had been to more than one gathering.

And where do people shit. Well, trenches are dug in the ground.

One event which stands out from this gathering is a fire. It was a small fire in a tree. But a bunch of people raced to the scene. We formed a line for buckets and passed water. The group of us put the fire out.

Also one kitchen was serving seitan. It sounds like Satan. It was good, but only enough for one serving per person. Let me save you from Satan I teased people.

In some ways Montana was a lonely gathering for me. I didn’t feel close to people. There was a cute girl named Dada from Chicago. Again I had a crush on her. But had no chance. This was also the gathering I stayed at the longest. A small group will come to the gathering early. They set up springs and trails. At the end a small group stays to clean and repair the land. The idea is to leave it like it had never happened.

After Montana I went to Boulder.

The last gathering I went to was in Michigan. I was starting to feel like I didn’t belong. Which is my issue and no one else. At this gathering there was a problem with part of the site. We had been asked to move. Most did. Many did not. There was a stream through the site. We had made a bridge to cross. On one side of the river the Forest Service didn’t want us. They said it was an archaeological site. After people refused to move they sent in cops. They put one person in handcuffs. Then people went a bit crazy. Some were trying to form circles around the cops. Which is a bad idea. No one likes to feel trapped. The cops had ATVs. At one point I recall pulling a guy out of the way of a cop on an ATV. In the end everyone moved.

I find it strange. This was the most recent gathering. But it is the one I recall the least. This was my shortest gathering. I had a job waiting for me at home. It was out in the middle of no where. Land is cheap if you care to live there.

What I do recall is having to truck water into the gathering. The water on site wasn’t drinkable. Though I may have drank some. Of course after the gathering I met my ride and went to Boulder.

Gatherings are always held on Forest Service land. Never in National Park. Or Wildlife Refuges or Wilderness areas. No one can speak for the family. So no one can sign a permit. And no permits are ever signed. The family believes it is freedom to assemble. Forest Service considers in an illegal event. They are always free. Another reason not to sign a permit. The permit would come with a fee.

Interregnum

Moving back to Stockton was hard. It was a hard time in my life. M was gone. I never would see her again. The last time I spoke to her was on the phone. I need to wash my hair, she told me. It felt like a brush off. So I just let her go. Let her go. It wasn’t easy. If there was anyone in my life I have loved. It was her. Will I love again. I believe, yes.

In Stockton I recall rain. The weather felt like it was wet and empty. I was living in a tiny room. It was with Mother. We got along well. I wanted to work. Looking for jobs. But I wasn’t able to find anything.

Then I contacted Heather. I felt alone. Things had not gone well the last time. But people change, right? I guess we will see. She came down for a visit. And stayed. I never told her she could stay. But I never told her to leave. She did cause problems with Mother. So we moved to my sister’s house.

My sister’s life was changing as well. And I don’t think us being there made things easy. But she never complained. I love my sister. And whatever happens I know she loves me. We may not always be as close as we were growing up. But I think there is a close bond. Heather was hiding drinking from me. This caused problems with me eventually. But also with my sister and her family.

I was looking for work. And I found something. But it didn’t start for a while. Heather finally moved back to her mother. Then I left and went to Portland. I hitch-hiked up to Oregon, stopping to see Heather’s mother. In Portland I visited Michelle. I lost my wallet. And I re-connected with Heather. But things did not go well, again.

In the end I hitch-hiked east on the I-84. My goal was Boulder and the gathering. The first ride was with a lady going to Idaho. We stopped along the way to explore and old industrial facility. And a burned out house. She dropped me off in Boise.

A couple days later and I was back in Boulder. This was my third visit. I still love Boulder.

I went to the library. The health food store. The park. And did tarot on the street. Thinking back there are many memories from Boulder. And to be sure, I need to just write a chapter about the town. It is one of those places where I feel at home now. Even though it is a place I have never lived. It isn’t cheap.

In Boulder I met a man with a van. He was also going to the gathering. We made plans and I gave him gas money. On the day we were set to leave I met him at the van. There were others I didn’t know also going for the trip. But I hadn’t given him much gas money.

It was seven of us in the van. The driver, me and five others. We set out across the great plains. We stopped in North Platte for gas. And I walked down the street to get a sandwich. It was further than I thought. Coming back I saw trouble a block away.

I saw the gas station. Then I saw the cops pulling into the station.

The cops were there when I got to the van. They were doing their thing. Asking for ID’s and getting information about us. It wasn’t going badly until the driver spoke up. He was from California and had a medical pot card.

Even though I tried to stop him, he made it clear to the cops. They gain interest in him. Re-ran his name. Now, things may have turned out the same. But it didn’t seem like a smart idea bragging about pot use. We weren’t in California. And the federal government didn’t acknowledge medical pot. They came back and arrested him. Not a smart move for the officers if you ask me.

With the driver gone they had six people without a ride. I always thought I would have made a comment suggesting, “listen we have to check this and we’ll be back in an hour. If you’re still here we will arrest you.”

And we would have piled in the van and hit the road. Instead we all had to walk to the freeway. And then try and find other rides. I was stuck with an idiot as a partner hitch-hiking.

For example. One of the longest rides I’ve ever gotten from a non-trucker was on this trip. She was going to her home just outside Minneapolis. But she drove us all the way to the northern border of the state. We were headed to the UP. Over 150 miles and almost three hours driving – one way.

When we got out of the car. He asked her for pot. If he had paid any attention he would have known she was a christian. Not a pot smoker.

At the gathering I met my van driver. He said they took him to another county. They held him for a couple days. And let him go. After the gathering he gave me a ride back to Boulder. But along the way i wanted to visit Mount Rushmore.

The monument is in South Dakota, along one route. We got there and it was amazing. Not like the Grand Canyon. Or like Yosemite or Niagara Falls. But uniquely amazing. This was my first visit. My driver found humor in smoking pot. I walked around, wishing I had a camera. But just experiencing being there.

Back in Boulder I didn’t say for long. I had to get back to California for my job. I hitch-hiked out of town. One of my rides was from Salt Lake City to Mother’s front door. The driver was driving from Boulder to Berkeley. A friendly guy. He told me about speeding at night. On one trip to Boulder he told me about averaging 90 miles per hour. This included time he was stopped for gas. He claimed to have made it in 12 hours.

Back in Stockton I turned up for my new job. A summer camp run by the city. It was actually a life changing moment for me in some ways.

Portland Again

I met Jessica in Santa Cruz. We bonded over music. But she had a boyfriend. I flirted in an awkward way. We talked about the buffalo in Golden Gate Park. Yes, they are really buffalo in the park.

We stayed in touch by email. We also talked about Portland. While in New York we made plans to move to Portland. In Boulder I had gotten back in touch with M. I will write more about Boulder later. But I talked to M on a daily basis. So moving back to Portland was attractive.

Jessica picked me up at my mothers. With all my stuff in her car. We drove north along the 101. Along the way we got a speeding ticket. She was driving. It was in the Safety Corridor between Eureka and Arcata.

I still remember two things about Jessica. I told her, “I didn’t know you smoked.” She told me, “I didn’t know you didn’t eat meat.” Two things, and a ton of other things. And a little bit of M in the background. But things never worked for me and Jessica.

We moved to a hotel. And got jobs together working at a physic hotline. The deal was we would get paid for talk time. We could sit in the office for any amount of time. But only got paid for talk time. So we would try and keep people on the line.

I talked to a guy who worked at Walmart. Yeah, I know. He told me everything the first day. On the second he called back and I told him everything back. He didn’t seem to know I was the same person. A woman called, wanted to know if she should stop sleeping with her uncle. I suggested it was a good idea.

Most people were lonely. Many people felt someone was cheating on them. I read the cards as best I could. But for me reading cards is about reading people. And I doubt I helped anyone. Then again talking was my goal, not helping people. Usually I suggested the person was cheating. Because if you question someone enough to call a physic. You are probably right.

The commercial promised a free reading. The small print said three free minutes. You just had to call a toll-free number. The operator at the toll-free line referred you to the paid line. And this time came from your three minutes. Then you called the paid line. But the first minutes were wasted. We had to ask for your information. No one got a free reading. And yes they were sued. The company I worked for was a contractor to another company.

But it worked for a while. We worked together. Drove together. And later Jessica even did it from home for a while. But I got a real job. A job at a parking ticket company. Our company would monitor private parking lots. People were supposed to pay. If they didn’t we gave them a ticket. Which quickly escalated if you didn’t pay. My job was data entry and phones. We couldn’t tell people where our office was located.

My manager once told someone we were “in a bunker in the middle of Nevada.” Then he hung up. I hated talking on the phone. But the data entry wasn’t too bad. I even got a friend a job. The ticket guys mostly rode bikes around. But the other guy would sometimes take a car and check a few lots. A woman once got so made at him, she said, “Fuck you, and everyone who looks like you.” I think it is funny.

I would sometimes walk and check lots near the office. I don’t recall giving many tickets. But I know one day I was in a bad mood. There was a car with a bunch of tickets on the dash. So, I had it towed. Later the person called, and I talked to them on the phone. They didn’t know I was the one. They weren’t upset. I thought was surprised.

Of course being Portland lots of the tickets were for rental cars. I’m not sure how the companies dealt with those tickets. Once the Police Chief called in about a ticket. I just deleted it for him.

Me and Jessica moved into an apartment in the Pearl. Yeah, it was a low-income place. But it was a good place. A couple friends of mine lived in the building. Jessica started dating the son of one of the office workers. He moved in, the way lovers will. And his brother moved in too. I know at one point I just wanted to be alone. I complained to a friend. “I’ll come over and tell them me and you are going to have sex, and they need to leave.” It was funny. It didn’t happen. It wouldn’t have worked. Later one of their friends also moved in with us.

Jessica got a job working for Chucky Cheese. Which I mocked her for in an encouraging way. I knew she could do better. Then she just quit. And I teased her about quitting too. In the end me and Jessica were good roommates. But never got close. And didn’t have a real connection for something more. She smoked a lot of weed. A major turn-off for me.

When not working at my job I volunteered. It was a communist group. They would agree. I’m not sure how I hooked up with the group. I did it most of all to do something. I hated the phone, and tried to avoid it. But they asked me to make calls. Or sometimes update data cards. They feared electronic data storage. Wisely. So it was all put on index cards. They had a system down. In fact what I learned from the group was the importance of a system. Step one, step two, step three. Always the same, in the same order. So if you didn’t finish someone else would know how to complete the task.

Once we went door to door. I was with a blonde girl. We were on the top of a flight of stairs. An apartment on either side. We knocked on one, no answer. And then the other. But then they both opened. One was young guy, good looking, no shirt. She went over to talk to him. I spoke with the other person. Later I teased her a little about her choice. “I’m an organizer,” she got indignant. And I believed her.

It was a good group. Its main focus was helping farm workers. Once we drove to a labor camp in Northern California. Before being a labor camp is was used to hold Japanese during WWII. The group sometimes got donations. Once more chocolate than anyone could eat, but I tried.

My friend Sean who had gone to Vermont with me lived in the same building. And his girlfriend Faith. They are artists. Some of the best I have known. I learned a lot from Sean. Like how to make pesto. One night he met M. And they had a long argument about me and girls. It was funny because I knew neither would give. Faith later told me she was sorry to have missed the exchange.

At the root of it was a comment Sean had made about M and I. It was a comment he meant well, but worded poorly. The poor wording is what M picked up on.

Yes, M. We started on casual basis. Even when we started having sex. And yes in the apartment with people there. Which is why the above wouldn’t have worked. Once while my dad was waiting. We were never boyfriend-girlfriend. Maybe we were both scared. But I loved her more than I have ever loved anyone.

She talked her mother into driving her down for a visit. “It’s only an hour,” she fibbed about the drive from Olympia to Portland. In return I did the same to my father when I wanted to see M. The plan was for him to help her buy a car. She needed a good used car. And he knew cars. But he never liked M.

Once at my apartment my lighter went missing. It was a lighter with a moon design. I used it for candles and incense. M was there but said she knew nothing. A couple weeks later, we were in a car with her mother. M asked her for a lighter. Her mother hands her my lighter. “My lighter,” I proclaim. Busted.

And M married her dad’s lover for money. In the end I don’t think they went all the way. I mean with the paperwork. We went all the way after the wedding. At her mother’s house. It was funny to see her at the altar with another man. I wanted to marry her. For real.

But things started to go bad when her mother called me her boyfriend. Then New Years Eve came. We had planed to be in Olympia. People had invited me to do things. At the last moment plans changed. We were in Portland, doing nothing. She wanted beer. I gave her my bike. She rode and I ran to the store. The wrong store, damn Fred Meyer’s. Then the other store. Then home.

I just want to be friends, she told me riding in the elevator. I was so tired I said nothing. Then we snuggled together and went to sleep. She was a mystery to me. Once I had planned to call her. She was at her mother’s house. But I went to a movie and it went late. When I got home I didn’t want to call and wake her mother. But M called me.

She wanted to know where I had been. I told her at a movie with a friend. The next time we hung out she took me to a movie. It was with Bjork. After the movie we were walking home, “wasn’t it a better movie than the one your friend took you to see?” Wow!

A couple days after the New Year she called me and told me she was pregnant. Left me a message on my voicemail. It shook my world. I called my dad. And I called her. I didn’t know the right thing. But the more I thought about it. I just felt like it was her choice, her body. I could give my opinion. But considering our relationship, what more could I offer. I gave her $500, told her to make the choice.

She went to the clinic to get the abortion. But she had to get an ultra-sound. Her story is it was already dead. Later she told me she did the dance of joy. I’d have a 16-year-old child today. It wasn’t a joyful moment for me. But I feel like it was the right thing. I’ve never been adult enough to support another person.

My dad was happy for me.

We didn’t talk for weeks. I had made plans to move to be with her again. And again the plans had to be changed. I vowed at this point never to move for a girl. The new plan was to move to California. A couple nights before I left I called her on the phone.

“I just wanted to tell you I am moving, and I might not see you for a while,” I told her.

“So.”

“Just wanted to let you know.” I hung up.

A couple hours later she called me back. She wanted to know why I hung up on her. She was proud of me, she told me. She invited me to visit. I shouldn’t have gone, but I did.

The end of the relationship was as confusing as ever. But it was over I have never seen her again. Though I still think about her.

My mother came up with a friend. They helped me move my things back to Stockton. But this was a better place than her older place.

My Story as told by Lilith

This isn’t me. Or rather it isn’t who you think. I’m Lilith. The unseen twin of our author.
Growing up we used to spend a lot of time together. It was him and I. On long walks we got to know each other. No one else ever knew me. No one at all. The rest of the family didn’t understand.

Going to school was hard. It tore us apart. He was often mocked by other kids. And it hurt me to see. All I wanted was to get back at those kids. But I couldn’t. And he wouldn’t. So I had to watch. Knowing it hurt him, made it worse. Did anyone pay attention to him like me.

In the sixth grade he was dying for attention. I saw him do things he shouldn’t have for others. I wanted to stop him. Tell him to love himself. But I didn’t love myself. I did love him. And I felt like he loved me. We always would have each other. And I always stayed with him.

In high school we would eat together. Just the two of us. His other sister has her own friends. So we had each other. And it was all we needed.

And I went to college with him. At first it was like he didn’t need me anymore. Though we were always together. But then we got closer and closer. I know the tart Harmony broke his heart. And I know it was his fault. And yes it still hurt to watch. I wish I could have told him it was coming. But would he have listened. He listens to me more now.

On the streets we kept each other warm. Closer than ever. When M came around, I was still there. She was someone who was good for him. And I loved her as much as he loved her. She made him happy. And this made me happy. We weren’t as close. But I preferred it to his being so sad all the time. Sad and alone.

But M also broke his heart. And mine to be honest. I trusted her with my best friend. He took it hard. It was hard to comfort him. Over time he healed. He met Heather, and I never trusted her. But, she made his life a little better. Until she didn’t.

We had moved to Portland. He had a job he enjoyed. And was making a decent enough income to support us. His first place was a dump. I hate dogs, so I hated the house. Dogs in and out and messing on the floor. In the next house his roommate was crazy. I liked him, but never trusted him. Soon we moved again. Then we traveled.

Rainbow Gatherings are my favorite. And the one in Pennsylvania was grand. We played. We read. We ate and slept. It was an adventure. An adventure which lead to another adventure. Meeting Laura, Pam and Shaylyn. Then a couple months later moving in with Shaylyn and Pam in Upstate New York. There was something I liked about Ogdensburg.

Problems caused us to move again. And again. Then to live alone. It was just him and I again. We still had each other. We would always have each other. He had some friends for a while. But they drifted away and we spent our time together.

We moved back to California. Went to another great gathering. And fell in love with Boulder. I think I loved it even more then he. It was my idea to name the kissing bridge. Maybe someday we can kiss someone on the bridge. He started talking to M again. And fell in love again.

His plans were to move back to Portland. There was another girl he liked and was moving with to Portland. But they didn’t work out and he fell for M hard. Even harder than last time. I accepted her. But I couldn’t love her again. And I couldn’t trust her again. They broke up. She told him on the answering machine she was pregnant. And I feared for him. There was no baby in the end. He never shared much about his feelings.

We moved back to California. Went to a gathering. Found a great job working in the High Sierras. I loved it up there in those mountains. And I could live up there forever. If only he would allow us to leave the city. The next stop was Yosemite. Which I also loved, but not as much. He was happy in Yosemite too. But then he felt like it was too small. After saving money he got us out of there, to Stockton. I hated Stockton.

And I never saw him. Work, work and school. All the time. No time for himself and no time for me.

Things slowed down when he moved to Arcata. I loved hiking in the forest. And he enjoyed it too. The college wasn’t hard for him. Working still took a lot of time. The first year it was a job he loved. Until they fired him. And he hasn’t ever loved a job in the same way since. Well, until Walmart. The next job he worked was at CVS.

Then we moved away to Wyoming. What an amazing place to live. Snow and cold. Mountains and open plains. Take me home to Wyoming. This is where I would choose for us to live. But the job let him go. We wondered around for a while. Not lost, but seeking. And landed back in Arcata.

There he fell again. He doesn’t fall often. But when he does it is hard. I liked this girl. And I thought we could be friends. But it isn’t as easy for me as it is for him. And it really isn’t easy for him. They were close. Seemed like there was so much they had in common. And I started to believe she loved and cared about him. Maybe I could lose him to her, but then she tore his heart in two. This was a dark moment for him.

But we still had each other. We still held on to each other. In those days he hung on to me closer than ever. We only had each other. His friends didn’t really know his feelings like me.

We moved to Colorado. And Nebraska. Then Texas. Those states were hard for both of us. We were both alone. And only had each other. It was worse than high school.

But now we live in Vancouver. He has a job he loves. Working at Walmart. The sad part is the pay is not enough. I want him to do better for himself. I encourage him to seek another job. And he does, but you can tell his heart isn’t in finding something new. He wants to get promoted. But I don’t trust his managers to see him for the asset his is to them.

We shall see.

Montana Trip

The bus ride from New York in California is long. On the bus I met a teen guy and girl. We were on the bus together for a long time. The girl was cute. But she was young for me. Sometimes I still like to flirt. I had a practice of the bus. I’d put my bag on the seat. Then I would watch people getting on the bus. But not look at them. When I saw someone I wanted to sit next to, I’d move my bag. Then I would wave and smile to the person. It worked often. Most people will choose an empty seat. And on a bus full on strangers, people go towards someone friendly.

On a long bus ride, getting the right seat-mate is important. Late in the trip there was a child on the bus. It was early morning and most people were sleeping. Or trying to sleep. He was running up and down the isle. “Look it’s the salt flats,” the boy said. It wasn’t cool but I told him, “no kid, those are the cocaine flats.” The mother got upset. But she did make him sit down and be quiet. Which was all I wanted.

Waiting for my bus in Sacramento was interesting. I met a woman who used rubber checks to steal cars. She’d make a down payment with a check. Take the car. The check would bounce and she would be gone. Also I met several people who had just gotten out of jail. Sacramento is now a beautiful city. And downtown has gained life. But these were dark days for the town.

I was back in California. But not for long. I stayed with mother in Stockton. She lived in a dump. Really, it was a dump. As much as she tried to get repairs done. The landlord refused. Until one day she stopped paying rent. It went to court. Mother took pictures of the apartment to show the judge. Not only did mother not have to pay rent. The apartment was condemned.

In Stockton I connected with people going to the gathering. In 2000 it was in Montana. I met up with them in a house in Sacramento. It was a group, including a mother. And some young children. The means of transport was a big yellow bus.

The first leg of the trip was to a festival north of Sacramento. The plan was to spend the night, and move along. But problems started with the bus. Someone had put the wrong fuel in the tank. And it took some time to get things fixed. I’m not sure how they resolved the issue. But we were able to get moving again.

Over the mountains and into Nevada was our path. The next stop I remember was in Winnemucca. We stopped near a park there for a couple days. I believe there was another problem with the bus. Old school buses aren’t known for running without problems. While at the part we took showers. There was a pool in the park. Some of the guys on the bus started hanging out at the skate park. And selling drugs.

Most of the people on the bus felt this was a bad idea. And asking for trouble. Soon the bus was fixed. In fact not a moment too soon. The cops showed up to question the group. They did their thing, nothing serious. And we were back on the road.

Driving along the highway they kept the front door open. Maybe it was the heat. But it was also because of number of them were smokers. They could blow their smoke out the door. Which was important because the kids had allergies to smoke. And it wasn’t a problem, until it was one night. The cat got freaked, bolted right out the door. We stopped the bus, but never found the kitty.

During another stop going through the desert we found a car. It looked abandoned. But there were things inside. A tent and other gear. Things a few of us wanted to take. It did look like the owner had walked away for good. Like the car had been there for a while. But I argued against taking anything. Because we didn’t know the story. Whose things were in the car. Or were the owner was now. We did know it didn’t belong to us. Nothing was taken.

We made a short un-eventful stop in Idaho. The next long stop was Bozeman. The Montana town sits right next to a mountain. We parked at the disc golf course. At one point a man drove up. Then a woman drove up. They drove away in his car. An hour later they came back. And drove away alone.

Wow. Every time I looked up. Wow. All I could think was wow. The mountain was so close and so big. It was almost alarming. While in town I tried to connect with an old friend. But it didn’t work out. I developed a deep love for Bozeman. Besides some great scenery. It also has a good health food store. I always feel better about a town with a good source of food.

The next stop was the gathering. In the future I’ll be sharing a chapter about Rainbow Gatherings. Most of all because I have been to a couple. And they run together in some ways. I once promised a dear friend I would take her to a gathering. And if I ever see her again, she wants to go. Then I will keep my promise. But it is the ever seeing part which I doubt the most.

After the gathering I went to Boulder, Colo. I spent a couple weeks in Boulder, doing yoga and tarot card readings. After Boulder was a brief stop in Stockton. Then a return to Portland.

Langiebe

Langiebe: To miss and love someone far away, but feel close in spirit and love.

She had been far away for so long. But also close to his heart. The feeling of langiebe was natural. There were few he loved in a deeper way. Just the a picture of his shining face made him smile.

Yes, langiebe. He knew they had a connection. Even though he missed her. He longed for her physically at times. Why must the people he loved be so far away. Was there a moment he could have changed their fates?

A moment in Boulder? A moment in Stockton? But all those moments were passed. And the present was still beautiful. Their love spanned the space between them. Over the years though far apart. They became close and closer friends. Their hearts were always one.

Just the word langiebe brought he smiling face. A wreath of blonde hair to his mind. He couldn’t imagine a life without her. A life without her spirit being a part of his life. Without her heart close to his as they chatted online.

He told her often he loved her. And told her how amazing she was as a person. Told her she was beautiful. And she was free. Sometimes he doubted the words he said. Never did he doubt his feelings. But he knew words were like paper boats. They could only carry so much meaning across the water.

What did she hear? What did she feel? Did she ever feel langiebe for him. Missing him with her heart, her body and her soul. Wanting him to be closer. Like he wanted to be closer to her. To her heart. And body.

At night alone in his room the feeling of langiebe was the worst. But it was clearly brought on by his isolation. She was a woman of the world. She always seemed stronger. And she had more people in her life. No man may be an island. But he felt close sometimes.

And in those moments. It was the feeling of langiebe which brought him comfort. There was much he didn’t know about the world. And he didn’t know much about her. But he knew she loved him. And he knew she valued their connection. Time and space could do nothing to break the bond it was so strong.

But the time and space didn’t go away. It sat there like a ghost in the room. Powerless but still present. Langiebe was the name of the ghost. He could touch her heart. But he would never touch her.

Maybe it was his own fault. Did he spend too much time absorbed in langiebe. Was he missing something right now. A love which tomorrow he would wish he hadn’t missed. A person he could touch in body, soul and heart. Was she there beyond the void of langiebe in his life. But he wouldn’t see.

The problem with langiebe is how easy it feels. You can sit and wonder about the lover across the sea. Think of how things would be if this or that was different. And all the time you are lost in a fairy tale. While the real world is going on around you. Like Snow White you dream away in your own sleep. A dream of langiebe. Like Rapunzel, you are locked away in your tower. Where the ideal love is langiebe. Where the ideal love is far away.

But the ideal love is outside your door. You see the ideal love every day. If the universe had wanted you to be with the lost lover. Then it would have placed you together. But it placed other people in your path. And you should choose to love them. It may not be langiebe. It may not be the deep connection. But it is here and it is real. And it is a love you can touch. And even the largest oak starts its life as a small sprout.

An acorn falls on the ground. And from it comes a mighty tree. When you pay attention to those around you. When you allow connections to develop. You never know where they might take you. And who they may lead you to love deeper.

And maybe you can have you langiebe and wedding cake too.

The First Trip

My first trip started in Santa Cruz.

The plan was to meet M in Eugene. Then we would attend the Rainbow Gathering. It was in Eastern Oregon.

After the gathering I got sick. I think it was food I ate. Hitch-hiking back we stopped in Willits California. I sat on the curb. And threw up in the gutter. It was cold and wet. And I didn’t feel good.

We got back to Santa Cruz the next day. After a short while we got a ride Seattle with James. In Seattle we stayed with her friends. But we didn’t stay long. We hitch-hiked east from the city. We wanted to go to Lewiston/Clarkston. Two towns across from each other on the Idaho/Washington border.

We headed across the desert heat. M wanted to stay on the interstate. But my idea was a more direct route. Almost right away I could see I was wrong. We got dropped off on a road with little traffic. Washington is the Evergreen State. But not the eastern half.

There were a couple small towns. We made it to one about nightfall. I’m not sure where we camped. The next day we were making little progress. Sometimes on the road, under the sun you can find shade. Even a post can help. A sign creates shade. In the dry landscape out there I thought I was going to die. There was no shade. No moisture.

I remember wondering around feeling out of my mind. Thinking there might be shade in a ditch, or under a leaf. One of the towns was Othello. And we decided to never go to a place with the word “hell” in the name. The highway was number 26. And I still don’t like the number.

At last we got a ride. All the way to our destination. The first day in town we went to a food bank. M went to talk to them and I waited. When they came out he asked us if we were homeless. A question which in most cases results in no food at a food bank. This is because Food Banks don’t stock the foods homeless people need. And homeless people tend to not be able to use the foods they provide.

So a bit nervous, I confirmed we were homeless. To our surprise he put us up in a hotel for three nights. We didn’t have plans to stay, or look for work. We made it clear. But he wanted to help us anyway. It was a good three days. The town itself felt friendly. It had the same feel of a lot of middle American towns.

We did look for work. I still had my ID. But after three days we hitched a ride east. Next stop Missoula. We got a ride from a good guy. But we were hungry. And when we stopped for him to get lunch we ate the whole basket of free crackers. We had no money.

In Missoula I lost my ID. It was rough. We spanged at a store for a while. A woman invited us over for breakfast. And we ate at the shelter. The shelter there felt like ones I have been to in Roseville, California or Santa Cruz, or anywhere. Missoula is a neat town. One place I could see myself living.

We headed out after a few days. Feeling a little more lost. But headed east. It had started to rain, so we left. We went through Wyoming. In Casper someone stopped and offered us a ride to the shelter. When we tried to hitch-hike in town the police stopped. They were friendly. Asked us not to hitch-hike in town. And also offered us a ride to the shelter. The next stop was Boulder, Colorado.

We were there for a while. Took all our things out and dried them in the sun. This became a ritual on our trip. Rain, sun, dry, wet. We spanged on Pearl Street. Slept in a corner by the library. We were happy. Once we asked a cop for money on accident. When we apologized, he replied, “what I’m human too.” He gave us some change. But the rains came and our trip moved along east.

We developed a motto. “Tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun.”

Across the great plains was a straight shot. We got at least one ride from a trucker out of Limon, Colorado. There really isn’t anything else in Limon.

We stopped next in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Another friendly town. But not one we stayed at long. This is where our brief shoplifting career started. We went to the store and then slipped things under the garden fence. Outside we retrieved the items. It was an easy scam. And it fooled me into thinking we could get away with stealing.

Ann Arbor is a college town. It had the same feel as Berkeley and Santa Cruz – and Arcata. I recall going to Food Not Bombs. This organization sets up in a couple different cities. It is like the socialist answer to the Christian soup kitchen. They give food and provide political materials.

From Ann Arbor we continued east. We stopped along the freeway in Ohio. It was a spot where the I-80 and I-90 ran close and paralell. M couldn’t sleep, but she managed to sneak us into a hotel room in the morning. She had found a hotel with a key drop for departing guests. When someone exited she grabbed key and we went into the room. She was good at these things.

When we were going through Portland we slept on Jantzen Beach. She went to a hotel and found left-overs from room service. Then brought them back for us.

After Ohio went passed through Pennsylvania and stopped in Ithaca, New York. We tried our tricks at K-Mart, but they were wise to us. Then I was bold enough to think I could walk out with the bag. It didn’t work. I’m not sure what we were trying to steal. But I store security took me to the office.

The police came and put me in handcuffs. I was upset. Worried about M. I remember crying. They took me to the jail. And fingerprinted me. A judge was going to come and talk to me. The judge wanted to know about M. Did we know anyone? Would anyone be taking care of her? She could see we were alone. And she made me a deal. If I promised to stay until Monday, and then report to court I could spend the weekend with M. And not go to jail.

We thought about running. But the wiser choice was to stay. We knew we would be at a bigger risk if we got stopped again. And homeless people get stopped by the police often.

The weekend was good. Another town. They were beginning to feel the same. Like the Simon and Garfunkel song: “every town is the same to me, with their movies and their factories.”

At court on Monday the prosecution pressed charges for disorderly conduct. I wasn’t charged with stealing. The judge released me on a conditional discharge. And it was one of the smartest moves I’ve seen in my life. I could go, but if at any point in the next year I got a ticket for anything – jaywalking – I would spend 15 days in jail. M and I made our way to the city limits as fast as we could go.

But what a smart move. If I had gone to jail the city would have been paying the bill. And M would have been alone on the street. I believe she knew given the conditions we would leave town. So she saved the city money, and encouraged us to leave with one step.

From there we continued east. The goal was Cambridge,¬†Massachusetts. But along the way we had trouble. Just outside the city is a beltway freeway. All the roads were tollways. We got dropped off at a tollbooth between one freeway and another. And we couldn’t get a ride.

We tried to walk off the freeway, but got stopped. The police drove up behind us and yelled, “get the fuck off the freeway.” We told him we were lost and asked for help. We told him we wanted to get off the freeway, but didn’t know how. He told us to go back to where we were at the tollbooth. Which we did.

In the end we got a ride. But it was the wrong direction. And it was raining again. The ride dropped us in Worcester. We tried to sleep under some trees but we got wet. We sat under the roof of a gas station.

In the morning the lady who opened it was friendly. She gave us some food and hot chocolate. Our things were piled by the door. Once someone looked at them strange. “Their mine, got a problem?” the lady said. She let us sleep in her car for a couple hours. We needed the sleep. Then before we left she gave us some donuts.

M had no sweatshirt because it had gotten soaked. I took mine off and gave it to her. We started to walk to a smaller highway to catch a ride. Someone offered us a ride but M didn’t trust them. Then a guy driving by stopped and gave me a jacket. Later we made it to the on-ramp, the same car stopped again. And M said she didn’t trust them again. So we had to spend the night in Worcester again. It was still raining.

There was a garage or shop of some kind near the road. We walked around back where there were a couple old cars. One truck had the door unlocked. So M and I slipped in and slept on the seat. I felt more in love with her than ever. She was on the side closest to the seat. She was so warm and soft. And I had the stick from the clutch in my back half the night. But we slept and stayed dry. It was a bit of a risky move.

The next day we saw the car from the previous day. We just let it drive past us. In the end we got a ride to where we wanted to go. Cambridge is a cool area. We hung out in the park. And Harvard Square of course. And read at the bookstore. I have M roses. She put them under the shelf and left them. I guess we couldn’t have taken them with us.

In the park we met some odd people. One guy said he once blew a blood alcohol level higher than .50. This means he added, his blood was more than half alcohol. I don’t know if it could even be true. But I did see them mixing ingredients in a bottle to leave in a hole. They were making their own alcohol.

We slept at a park with a fountain. I recall it waking me up when it sprung to life every morning. We went to a Catholic service. It was a good time. We even ventured into Boston. Walking along the street we saw an amazing church. A sign mentioned tours. So we asked for one, and got one. It was so grand and large. We walked around the sanctuary. Then when it was time to leave, the door out seemed so small.

We dried out things here, well mostly. Then it rained and we started for home. In Rhone Island I recall checking one of my notebooks. It had been damp the whole trip. It was so upsetting I just pitched it into a tree.

“There are important things in there,” M told me. At the time I didn’t believe it was true. But now I wish I still had the notebook.

We hadn’t made it far before we stopped to get food. We stashed our things in the bushes and went to a restaurant. We kept a small bag with us. When we returned everything we had left was gone. This meant we now had no blankets. And it was starting to get colder. We wondered for a while confused about what to do next.

Then we met some odd junkies who said they were going to Utah. The woman was friendly. The guy wasn’t so open. They gave us a ride through New York City. We hopped it would be a ride all the way. But they guy kicked us out in Pennsylvania. It wasn’t easy four people in one car.

So we were out again. No blankets. We tried to sleep. When you get so cold you want to stay close. But also to roll up tight. And you can’t do both at the same time. I know I slept little.

The next day a lady gave us a ride. It was a good long ride all the way to Ohio. I was in the front, and M was in the back. This is normally a safer situation for M. But this case was odd. I was talking to the lady. Then trying to talk to M. But at one point she sat back and I knew she was upset. I figured we could discuss it later.

The lady gave us some blankets. She dropped us off at a gas station. As we got out she came and gave me a big deep hug. And turned and just patted M’s back. I knew I was in trouble.

“Fuck me or buy me a hamburger,” she told me. Turns out I hadn’t noticed what was going on in the car. Every time M tried to talk the lady turned up the music. I was flirting with the lady. Not in the hopes of scoring with her, I was with and loved M. But in a more natural relaxed way.

While still in Ohio the police came while we were hitch-hiking at a tollbooth. He suggested a path to another exit, with more traffic. But it wasn’t passable, so he gave us a ride. We told him about the cop in Massachusetts. “No wonder they get shot all the time,” was his reply.

Crossing Ohio we actually got a short ride from another friendly officer.

In Indiana we stopped in Gary. The truckers got us scared to go outside. They said we would get shot and killed. The road had left us with little energy. So we believed the hype. Instead of going out we curled in the bottom of a phone booth in the building. It has a lock. I locked the door and we slept there. It wasn’t as uncomfortable as it sounds.

The next day we got a ride from a trucker. All the way to Reno, Nevada.

It was the first time I crossed the salt flats. Waking up in the middle of them is odd. You know it is summer. And it is warm. But it looks like the ground is covered in snow.

From Reno, to Sacramento, to Berkeley. I believe M took the bus home from Berkeley. And I went home to Santa Cruz alone. More alone than ever.

This trip may be the highlight of my life. I learned so much about the country. Some places were smaller than I imagined. And some places were bigger. We live in an amazing country. And it is full of amazing people. Every where we stopped people were friendly and helpful.

This trip emboldened me to take on risks later in life. And it still does.