Tag Archives: Stockton


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.


“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: 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.

Did I just start a novel?


For many years now I have thought of writing a novel. A book about my life. But my life is still ongoing so it never has felt like the right time. Why now. Because, I am tired and ready for my life to change. To go on being my life, but to be different.

The novel would be to the people I have known, and about the people I have known. I feel like many of them have been left behind, and I am sorry. My life also feels fragmented sometimes. In a real way I enjoy the feeling, but in another way all those pieces of my life hold a part of me. I have no clue if I could ever bring them together for a whole picture. Who am I?

Starting with where I was born would be the most direct, and pointless way to start the story of my life. Sure I was born. It was in a hospital, and my mother was there – but my father wasn’t. The hospital was in Berkeley, California. I moved away from Berkeley with my mom at a young age. As you can see there is no point to starting at the beginning.

So where does the epic tome about my life begin. Today is a day like many days for the last two years. I went to work, I came home, I ate and took a nap. I watched Netflix and soon I will sleep. The only novel point of the day is the start of this journey. Again no logical reason to start to story at today.

A natural starting point could be an ending point. If I had done something great. It would be a launching point. A knot to tie the story together. But all the ending points in my life have been failures.

Failed work, failed relationships. I guess I shouldn’t say all the endings. It is just the ones fresh in my memory. As a child I was not a failure.

Growing up in the foothills of Yosemite, north of Fresno, was grand. The river and land were a natural canvass to explore. Many hours as a child I wandered alone. I also wondered about life in my head. Being a thinker is always been a part of who I am. Sometimes for better and sometimes for the worse.

My great-aunt’s land seemed so vast to me as a child. Covered in hills and dales. And cows. I recall little of my youth, but I know I lived there for years, and explored it well.

When I lived there with my mother we had to dig a trench for the phone line. The trailer we lived in had no phone. The phone company wouldn’t install a line for free. My mother didn’t want to pay, so she dug a trench from the road to the trailer. And she did much of it by herself.

I recall the dusky evening. I know it was summer because the days were long. My great-aunt lived with another couple – it was their land. The man did come down and help with the digging. I assume the ditch was dug. The phone installed. But I don’t remember.

What I do remember is walking and talking to my mother. The dogs were barking in the yard. One of them I believe was our Doberman Pinscher named King. My mother never taught us much.

Hygiene was one of those lessons I have had to learn on my own. In this memory we are talking about tooth brushing. In my memory of the event I felt bad about not brushing my teeth. I felt bad, and my mother’s tone seemed to imply it was my fault. A young child, to blame for their own lack of cleanliness. It is something I don’t understand now.

I try to think different now. But to be honest it is hard. Once you start to blame yourself, to stop.

Now, my childhood was also good. Living on a natural property with a river had to be good. Mother didn’t just dig phone trenches. Sometimes she would dig swim holes in the river sand. Handful by handful. We spend many hours in the Fresno river. It forked and one side was the calm side. The other was the scary side. At least as children it was scary. In later years I couldn’t help but wonder if it had tamed.

The river was where we went fishing with safety pins and white beans. Yeah, we didn’t catch anything. We took friends to swim in the river. Once some visitor found a toy skeleton. It had hung in the neighbors tree for months. My great-aunt and her friend told us it was evil. I was curious, but also scared of the skeleton. Then it disappeared.

The kids who found it in the river thought it was real. They called the sheriff. The sheriff came out and told us it was fake. I don’t even know who those kids were.

Of course when I say we, I mean me and my sister. I lived with my sister more than anyone as a child. I moved from my great-aunt’s to my mother’s and back. She wasn’t a bad mother, just struggling with life. She did the best she could.

My sister was my friend. Not my best friend. My only friend. When you move and move and move and move, it happens. It wasn’t until the fifth grade we grew apart.

Now I have written for so long. I don’t know where my story is and where I need to take it next. To be honest, this is the longest I’ve ever written on this topic. Right now it is just under a thousand words.

When not living with my great aunt, we did live with mother. There were many houses. I wish I could recall their order. The yellow house was the first I recall.

It had a yard, with a garden. This is where I got my cat Smokey. So many times I cried over the cat because I thought we had lost him. I know he was there because I recall him hunting a mole. Was my male cat not a male?

In the yellow house mother we be angry because we at the chocolate chips. I don’t know she ever punished us, but she got angry. Now we can’t make chocolate chip cookies, she said. But who cares, chocolate chips taste better when you sneak them from the bag in the freezer. At least my childish self thought this was true.

The yellow house was were I drank some dirty water one day. It is the first time I had the thought living didn’t matter. There have been many times over the years. It was also the place I broke my arm the first time.

Me, my sister and a friend were jumping off the back of a chair. (Oh the things kids do for fun.) The friend pushed my and I fell and broke my arm. I remember a little of the fun of jumping off the chair. But not the broken arm. It is funny how our memory works.

Sometimes I play a game. I try to think of what my earliest memory is and how old I was then. Problem is how do we date our memories. I remember the yellow house and I remember the red house. But which one came first. I scan the memory itself for clues. It was the yellow house, I think. But this isn’t science. Geology or archaeology with their dating layers.

So my earliest memory. When I was two I went to Stockton with mother and my sister. The only part all these years later I recall are walking through the city in the heat of the sun. Could I it be a two-year old was walking through a city with his mother and younger sister?

Mother didn’t have a car. Around the foothills where we lived she hitch-hiked, and we did too. Pretty crazy when I think about the idea today. Walking was something we all did to get from where rides dropped us off. Also sometimes to get to a place with more traffic. I know we walked a lot. My great aunt told me to look out for my sister. It made the young small me feel important. But, what could kids do?

One time we tried to run away. We went out to get a ride. When someone stopped we got scared and ran home. My sister was my friend.

But the yellow house was close to town. One day I walked down to the end of the driveway. Cars on the highway were leaving town and speeding up. I talked to a man and watched cars for a while. I told him the police could catch speeders. Drivers were anticipating the speed limit change, before it changed. My mind was always thinking. When I think of myself at the yellow house, I didn’t feel like a child.

My sophomore English teacher wanted us to write our biographies. I didn’t do it. I couldn’t. I was failing anyway. By the time of high school the yellow house was just one of many. I think we may have lived in a dozen places, in three or four close towns.

In some ways the yellow house feels special to me. It makes me think of Van Gogh’s yellow house. Vincent had big dreams for the house. Maybe I had big dreams for my life. In my memory it was summer. The light was golden, like a movie. Things were simpler and better. But still I was debating the meaning of life. Or the value of life.