Was it raining?

Was it raining?

The air was moist. Like the colour grey. Like darkness. And there was a chill. You could feel the chill in your bones. And across the waves she was there alone on the dock.

Was it raining.

A darkness was moving across the sky. The day was ending. The world was ending. Some place, some where, out in the world someone was being born. The dawn was breaking in another land. But tonight the world was ending on a small ferry. Tonight was the end. The end.

Was it raining?

It had been a week together. Days of bliss. Moments of outrage. She raged about not having a cigarette. They talked and she cried about being a part. He believed for a moment. But the moment was over. The moment was falling into the waves. And the waves were spreading between them now.

Was it raining?

He was crying. A heart beating in his chest. One beat at a time and he could hear it. He wanted to be out in the weather to see her. But, it was cold. He was cold and alone. Inside he couldn’t see the lost face. Just her face in his heart. The sounds of the water sloshed against the boat. The sounds of blood pumping through his veins. It would go on and on and on. The waves and the beats go with him for years.

But was it raining?

There were years of memories. A long travel to the edge of the country. Then back again. A cold night together in the front of a pickup truck. As the rain pounded all around. Cold and alone and with nothing on the East Coast. The life they shared went on past the final moment. He couldn’t let go just because she let go. And he didn’t.

He recalls the waves. And the cold. The ferry and the final smile. Why doesn’t he know if it was raining? Why does it matter? It does.

Borders

There were so many borders. He crossed the Sierra’s and ran out of gas. Down the backside he coasted. Then hours later it was the state line. An ocean of desert to be crossed. More mountains and miles and miles of road. But those were borders.

The real border was the front door. The end of the drive way. The day he told her he was moving. The real border came weeks before as he accepted the job. The far away job. Or the day he applied, wanting to be far away from her. The borders were crossed in his heart. Many times, and many times he came back. Would he return to her love again?

The cat slept on his lap as he drove. The radio playing a Lucy Kaplansky song about the road. Clearly she had also done travel at night. Her magical voice was holding him tonight. The music was a hug. The cat slept peacefully at last in the car. But it wasn’t an easy start for her. She cried and cried and cried. Like he wanted to cry and cry and cry. Maybe they both missed her. And all these years later he wonders if Baby Girl misses her like he does, at night, alone.

But maybe no being could miss another in the same way.

Years before he lived in Yosemite. When not crossing the high mountain trails he wrote. So much sad poetry and prose. So many long and pointless hours of cutting his own wrist with a pen. Bleeding onto the page, onto the screen. Into the snow, cold and unwatched. But he crossed a border in the park. It was the place where he learned to let M go. He moved beyond. And beyond he remained until he returned from Wyoming. And then borders were crossed again. There was no on in his heart for him for so long. Now she had crossed into his love.

Nevada is a land of barren beauty. A place unique and magical in a sparse way. Maybe one day he’ll live in a hermit shack off a dirt road in Eureka. Not the left-leaning town on the California coast. The dusty town hanging to the side of a mountain in Nevada. He passed through the town on this trip. And later trips. But tonight it was just a moment on the road. How many moments on our roads we pass through blindly. But for someone else the moment is dear. The moment lasts in memory. The touch lingers like a kiss on wet lips.

How many borders did he cross driving in the night. And in the heat of the next day. His heart had for so long been barren like the desert. Empty, uncrossed by human love. At least this is how it felt to him at times. But she was there like a dream. A well in the middle of the vast plain. Driving he crossed state lines. He crossed county lines and city lines. And each line was a step further from the one he couldn’t cross away from tonight.

Even after the granite valley of Yosemite. The strange orange land of south Utah. Through the dark of night and the heat of day. In Utah the temperature drove the cat to seek a place to hide. And she didn’t mind being wet for once. Like he was learning the lessons of having a wet heart. But he could never find a place to hide. The heat was so strong between them at one moment. It burned like the sun on his alabaster heart. And now he was peeling. One of his borders was slipping away into dust around him.

Maybe it didn’t have to be this way. Maybe it couldn’t be any other way. A voice inside told him to turn back. Cross back to safety. The comfort of her heart. But the clear sad truth was this border couldn’t be crossed anymore. He could cross Nevada. And later even crossed it in a snow storm. But the storms and the cold winds of live were driving them now. And each on a different current. The land he drove across was once at the bottom of the sea. In a time which feels so far away now. But years from now, across other borders so will today. The feelings, the journey, the borders crossed. It will fade as a memory. But she will never fade.

If Only…

If only I hadn’t gone to the job fair. I’d recently moved to Vancouver and needed a job. At the job fair I met Tye. And we talked about working at Walmart. Three years later I am doing good at Walmart. But if…

If only I hadn’t had the crazy roommate move in with me. I thought having a roommate would help. But she was crazy. Thought I worked for the police. Ate all my food. And then wanted to have sex with me. Craziest thing of all really. But then I wouldn’t have moved to Vancouver.

If only the weather hadn’t been so cold in the spring. If only the workplace hadn’t been so cold. And then so loud. If only I hadn’t had a great friend in Vancouver.

If only I hadn’t stayed in touch with Michelle. We met years ago. And had been close ever since. She’s been an amazing friend. And I’ve been a wandering fool. If only she hadn’t stayed friends with me all those years. I wouldn’t have had the option to move to Vancouver.

If only I hadn’t met her at Burgerville. It wasn’t a place either us belonged at the time. But we were there for a short time together. We got to know each other. Became friends and became close. If only when she asked to be my friend I had said, “no.” It would have been a sad mistake. But it could have happened.

If only I hadn’t gotten fired from the deli downtown. I worked for a Korean couple who barked at me. The man said women were trouble. The woman said I made her feel stupid. But I worked and worked. Coming in late every day. I didn’t know the clock was set fast. If they hadn’t fired me one dark day I wouldn’t have gone to Burgerville. And I would never have met my best friend: Michelle.

If only in the wet of winter I hadn’t moved to Portland. Starting out in the city wasn’t easy. I had to really work hard and rent cheap places. When I could rent any place. I had at one point planned on moving to Seattle with a woman. But it didn’t work out and I landed in Portland. Why Portland, I didn’t even know the place. But I knew, M, the girl hated the place. And it was close enough for me to afford a ticket on the bus. If only she hadn’t hated Portland. If only I could have afforded to move to Austin. If only I would have moved to another town.

If only I had stayed a week longer. I had been camping by the river. And the night I left the water flooded my tent. A couple years later I went back and found it. It was under a deep layer of mud. I’d never thought the river could flood. If only I had stayed another night. It might have been my last.

I had met M on a lonely night in San Francisco. I had turned while walking to talk to a friend behind me. But bumped into M. She was looking for someone for talking. I sat down and we talked for hours. We blew smoke bubbles. My heart was feeling light like a bubble. If only I hadn’t bumped into the strange girl. If only I hadn’t fallen in love. If only the night was just the night. But we stayed together for weeks. And then later went on a long trip. If only we hadn’t been so close. I would never have made plans to move to Seattle. I would never have moved to Portland. If only on one night in San Francisco I was walking on the other side of the street.

She had left home to see her favorite poet. Allen Ginsberg, was alive when she when she left Seattle. But he was dead when she got to San Francisco. If only she had loved a different poet. If only she hadn’t been feeling lonely. If only she had never left home. There are so many unknown if only’s in her story. If only her family had been closer.

If only I hadn’t been cruising around the Bay Area. If only I’d never started on my experimental life. I left college to be on the road for a while. But I never left the Bay Area until I met M. If only I had never met her. If only I had stayed in school I would have a totally different career. But there had been a longing in my heart for something different. If only I had been happier with my life choices. If only I had ignored the call of the wild.

If only I hadn’t been in San Francisco. If only I hadn’t met M. If only I hadn’t moved to Portland. If only I hadn’t worked at Burgerville. If only I hadn’t met Michelle. If only I hadn’t moved back after many years. If only I hadn’t gotten a job at Walmart. If only so many more things I can’t count or recall. And a few I am not even aware of right now. I wouldn’t be here writing this, and you wouldn’t be here reading it.

I for one am happy all the “if onlys” worked out the way they did.

Yosemite People

I had friends in Yosemite. Which is a statement. Because in many places I have not had any. My roommate was one of the closest.

Not my first roommate. He was a quiet Asian guy. Not a bad person. But not someone I got along with as a friend. He owned a car and never drove it. Sure, you didn’t need a car in the park. I imagine if I had a car, I would drive rarely. But he didn’t even want to talk about the car. It sat for so long the battery was dead. I honestly do not recall his name. And I wouldn’t tell you if I did.

It was my second roommate. A guy from Michigan. I think when he first moved it things weren’t easy. And of course like roommates we didn’t always get along. Once I was listening to the TV and using the computer. He changed the channel and I made a comment. It wasn’t fair he suggested for me to be using both at the same time. Of course I paid for both, the internet, the computer, the TV and the satellite service. But he had a point. The TV show wasn’t even in English.

Some of the good times I recall were watching our shows. Every night we would watch four shows together. It was Ed, Edd and Eddie, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Powerpuff Girls and Dextor’s Laboratory. They were on together on the cartoon network.

Jordan is a person I am still friends with online. A creative person like myself. But in a different way. While living in the park I remember he made a coat of jean squares. Then he moved to another part of the park.

There wasn’t a roommate for a while afterwards. Which of course is the best roommate. I tried not to move into the space. Because I knew someone would be coming to fill it. One guy came and went so fast I recall nothing about him. Then there was a guy from South Africa. He sounded like a Brit. But was as racist as they come.

We got along, but we weren’t friends. One day I do remember we took a hike to Yosemite Falls together. I was always up for a hike.

In someways writing about people is getting harder. Because it isn’t so much people of the past. But some of them are people of the present. There were a number of women who earned my attention in the park.

But two were just friends. It was Judith and her friend and I who spent time together the most at first. Yeah, I don’t have a memory of her name either. One time I talked to her on the phone about a movie I wanted to see. It was Run Lola Run. “It is a foreign movie I told her.” And then she wasn’t interested. But when I talked to Judith, our friend had heard me say, “it is a porn movie.” Makes since she wouldn’t want to watch.

Judith was a good friend. Another person I went on a hike or two with in the park. She was good for me because she would drag new people in my life. Her job at the park was human resources. One of the first people many people meet. The perfect job for her. She was naturally friendly. I am not naturally friendly.

A lot of people came and went in the park. A core were there for most of the two years I lived and worked in the park. Most of them if I saw them today I would remember. If not by name then by face. But it has been years since I have gone back. Besides many of them left themselves over the years.

One of the first women I was attracted to was Michelle. A cute blonde who didn’t live far from me. It was probably through Judith we met. Also a friendly and out going person. But when I first met her I don’t think she was single. Later as I got to know her our relationship became good friends. It seemed clear to me she wouldn’t want to be more. I never really pushed the issue. And maybe I was wrong. But we were good friends.

One time she was having a bad day. I suggested she watch Dancer in the Dark. One of the saddest movies I’ve ever seen. When I watched in the in theater my girlfriend cried a lot. For me it helped when I was down because it was such a depressing story. There is some hope in the movie. Maybe it was easy for me to feel the sadness coming from a movie and release the emotion. Or maybe it just made me feel good in comparison. Whatever the case, it didn’t work for Michelle and she was upset.

Later I took an interest in a friend of hers. It was a brief episode in my life, but not one I feel good about today. We got to know each other over a short period. And once we made out in my room. But then she said those dreaded words. “Let’s just be friends.” I told her, no. The rejection was painful to me. And I didn’t feel like I knew her very well as a friend. And I didn’t get to know her any better.

Later some guys said they saw her with someone else. I must have shared liking her. I don’t recall much about how the joke was first told. I think I mentioned someone being named Lincoln – because everyone takes a shot at her. Well, then the guys would refer to her as Lincoln. It wasn’t a fair image of who she was, and I should have said something. But I didn’t. Sometimes it is easier to let things happen. And even people who aren’t bad allow bad things to continue.

There were a few other women. But nothing real during my time in the park. There was a deep part of myself still in love with M. Most of the writing during the time was focused on her. In fact it got to the point I felt like I had to quit writing. Every word felt like it echoed with the same lonely achy heart. And every word was tearing the wound open fresh. This began a period of years where I wrote very little.

I kept the journal I started in the park. And I still writing in it today. Since starting the writing process again I have tried to write more often. A number of the friends I had in the park were online friends. A chapter of its own, soon.

Two older guys became good friends. One of them had a few odd habits. I think his name was Walter. You would ask the simple, “how are you?” And Walt would say, “better now that I see you.” At first it was off-setting because people don’t normally talk in such a way. But he was an honest and good person. I worked with him at the tour desk. When mothers and daughters came he would wink and say, “let me guess, sisters?”

And he wasn’t hitting on them. Just being friendly. Maybe it was the shared male housing which caused the rumors. But one thing people would discuss sometimes was, “is he gay?” And these two guys I wondered about from time to time. It wasn’t important to me of course. People also thought I may be gay. No, just very unlucky in love.

This older friend of mine would often tell this joke about gay mice. The punch line was, “how do they know they are gay?” A joke I’d heard a couple times before I had a retort. They say things like, “better now that I see you,” I quipped. He laughed.

Roommate stories were also common. Walt told one about his roommate. Walt had used salt to thaw ice on the porch. “I’ll tell the ranger,” his roommate nagged. And yes, his roommate was right. We weren’t supposed to use salt. But it was a tiny space. I think it was a way of releasing tension. We all lived pretty close to people we didn’t know well. Of course his roommate was also an odd fellow. In his 30s and never learned how to drive. Sure, I hadn’t had a car since high school. But even I had a driver’s licence. But this guy had grown up in Boston.

One of the people I liked least in the park was Randy. Yeah, I recall his name for a couple reasons. One he was the player of the park. Always the first to be dating one of the temporary workers from another country. Made me think of how they use the word randy in England. But he was also a person who skirted the rules. Because he thought he was special. In the parking lot was a spot were a car fit, it didn’t block traffic. But it did make things tight. And it wasn’t a marked spot. But he parked in at all the time. Because he was too lazy to park and walk like everyone else.

I should state before long he was a part of the reason I left the park. It was something I had planned. But not the way it happened. I had just started working for the day. There was a new truck with an enclosed bed, and a better radio. When I got on I over the walkie-talkie to see if he needed help. The answer was no, he would be right done soon. So I waited. I asked the manager about if I should go, he said wait. But when Randy came in, he just left. Then he came back and wouldn’t turn over the keys so I could use the truck for my job. I got upset, and hit a door with a window. The window broke and I cut my hand. They fired me.

Today I am more bothered by upset I got over the issue. Though I still think Randy was being a prick. I needed the truck more to do the job I needed to get done. And he just wanted the truck with the better radio. Well, to be honest the job had broken me down. I tried every day to get it right. And I felt more and more like a failure every day. This is part of the reason I still hate unions. In this job it did nothing to help me and almost everything to hurt me.

A couple days a week I had to cover another guy’s days off. He didn’t seem to care about doing a good job. So when I came to cover his days off I always started far behind. I’d be running like mad to catch up. And the way the union worked, he got prime job choices because he had been there longer. And when I broke the window. They had to fire me, because they had to be consistent. I of course blame only myself for the poor choice to hit the door.

The manager I had there was a good guy. One of those good guys which can be bad managers. Because they never crack down on people. I remember a number of times telling him I didn’t think I could do it anymore. He was supportive, and I kept trying. Now it seems like I would have been better off if I had quit sooner. Quit in terms of trying to get transferred to another park job.

But like I said, it was time for me to go. And the moment was perfect for me when I did leave. I am just sad such a great job and fun time in my life ended on a sour note. And it also bugs me it had to be the one person in the park I didn’t like who pushed my buttons.

I loved all my managers at the park. One was a cute little brown haired woman working in the lodge. Her name was Lisa. Once some co-workers were chatting about a Lisa and how hot she was, and I agreed. They looked at me, “you don’t know Lisa.” Then they figured out who I was talking about, oopps. But I didn’t care too much. Another woman there was Darlene. She was someone I respected a lot. And someone who clearly respected me. Darlene was the one who told me, “you can teach someone who has a good work ethic anything, but you can’t teach someone to have a work ethic.” She was leaving the park at the same time I was, and tried to help me keep my job.

The big boss at the lodge was Bridgette. Not big in any way except position and personality. A little red haired woman who reminded me of Madeline. We got along great, until the end. But I don’t blame her, I don’t think it was easy for her to let me go.

And when I did go, it was good for me. On Friday I left the park broken and hurt and confused. On Monday I started a new life, with two jobs, a place to live and enrolled in college. This was where I wanted to be. And two years in Yosemite had been important to making it happen for me.

Dante

Dante came into my life when I lived in Portland. It was the first time I lived there. I used his name on a dateline. A phone number you called to meet singles. I didn’t think much about it. And I only met two people.

One of them however became friends with a friend of mine. She shared the name with him. And he started using it. I didn’t have much of a relationship with Dante. For years it stayed this way.

When we traveled across the county. I used the name Dante all the way across. Meeting the women in Upstate New York, I was Dante. It was there I got the addition of Prince.

We had planned to go to a festival. Before hand I hand been singing a song. One of the lines way about going to the festival, “and dancing with the prince.” When the time came I went with the girls. And my friend stayed to watch a movie. Dancing at the festival, they figured I must be the prince.

Over time I started to get to know him better. And when I worked at Silver Lake I borrowed his identity again. At the camp everyone called me Dante. It was fun to think of myself as Dante. And not Chris.

I think there has always been a dark draw to Dante. Something about him made me come closer. His name invoked the story of Dante’s journey through hell. And later through heaven. I remember a quote about having to go through hell. And then you find your treasure. It is about struggle. About going deep. But also understanding our wounds. Loving our shadow.

I don’t believe in sin. And it has been years since I have believed. We don’t sin against God. But we fail ourselves. The only crime is failing to love ourselves. And the punishment is not being loved by ourselves. We hold the key to our own chains.

Dante was a recluse. A lover of knowledge and poetry. Not a person happy at parties. Unless he could hide in the corner. There was a very secret part of him. A part which wanted to be invisible. Just to watch the world. And not be a part. But he loved getting to know people one on one. Hearing about their lives and stories.

In Yosemite I got to know Dante better. But at the same time Dante hid away deeper. It wasn’t a name I spoke often. When doing art of writing, I spent time with Dante. But it was always alone. No one else in Yosemite knew Dante. I was growing. And Dante was growing. We spent a lot of time together hiking.

He was still creative. Still a dreamer. It was his dreams which helped me fall in love with the girls in New York. Laura whom I lived with for a few months. And Shaylyn whom I saw rarely.

In Yosemite I decided I wanted to be a writer. And I choose to go into the news business. I do like news. But it was for the writing. One of the first stories I recall being acutely aware of was Scott Peterson. On my blog I gave a lot of space to Dante. But when I left, I almost left him behind. Which is sad because he was part of the reason I want to be a writer.

Working and going to school in Stockton took a heavy toll. I didn’t have time for friends. And I didn’t have time for Dante. There were a few paintings. And a couple times I took photo walks. But Dante wasn’t a part of my life. He would become less a part of my life for the next few years.

It isn’t because I didn’t value his energy. Or because I wasn’t pulled to be alone. But because I ignored those things. And I ignored his needs. Dante is a loyal friend, like Lilith. But things were strained with both of them during this time. All I had time for was me. Run to work, to school, to sleep, to work, to school. Run all the time. Well I had a bike.

Dante may be loyal. But has wanted to die a number of times. Alone, but not alone.

The one exception to all this is my roommate in Arcata. When I met her online I used Dante’s name. And she still calls me Dante to this day. There was a part of herself which touched him. And it would appear a part of him touched her. Could they not be alone anymore. But she wasn’t making time for Dante either. And I pushed him away after moving to a new place. He didn’t feel like a friend. He felt more like a shadow.

My first online identity was TheSanePoet. A name I still use online often. But when I first got Facebook I used the name Dante. It was a way to be honest. But to lie at the same time. Dante wanted people to know him. But also wanted people to know nothing.

His desire was different than Lilith. Less about fear. More about presenting the perfect image. A perfectionist artist. I would be his work of art. There was only one way to turn me into this work of art: control everything. I could share anything I wanted. But the way I shared was important to Dante.

While living in Portland the second time I used the name rarely. M didn’t like it. Because I did love Dante so much. And because I loved M so much it isn’t a surprise they have the same middle name: Rose.

A rose is about a passion. Maybe a passion for life. Or for a person. Or truth or love or the passion for words. These ideas were becoming more important to me. It was while living in Portland this time I started my real art career. I’ve created little over the years. Most of what of it in those years. Dante inspired me as an artist. There was a world of feeling he could touch. But I could not.

I know this is all over the place. But this is the nature of Dante. He isn’t like me. I’m going back even further for the next part of this tale.

Living in Santa Cruz I met an amazing woman. At the beach one day she told me I was a Pleiadian. This is an alien race. But I think she was wrong. What she was seeing was behavior I had learned from Dante. He was the being from another world. A number of years later I started to pin Pleiades to his name to make this point. A point he was aware of, but didn’t discuss. A point he seemed not to care enough about to argue for or against.

If other people know Dante, they may use a different name. But as of now I refer to him as Prince Dante Rose Pleiades. And I still use his name online. He doesn’t like Facebook.

It is interesting Dante is more passive than Lilith. But as friends I know they both look out for me. Dante shares dark secrets with Lilith. Things they will not even share with me.

But Dante is more optimistic. When I first was getting to know him, he wore a skirt. These were the good years. We were good friends. He believed in the world. Thought life could and should be better for all. He pushed me to get out much more than I do now. Maybe because getting out is my own hell. One he knew I needed to experience.

I believe he still wants to wear a skirt. And if I allowed him, he would.

Now me and Dante are getting to know each other again. Like lovers parted for long years. I am writing again, which is creative. This makes Dante happy. My dream of being an artist is being re-awakened. Dante is a part of this dream. I can’t write or be an artist without his help. But still no one else knows him. It is only online I share anything about him. And I don’t allow many people from real life to know me online.

We are growing together in the last couple years. And it has been good for both of us.

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.