The time is coming to move away from writing about Santa Cruz. But there is a part of me which doesn’t want to move on yet. I had good times in Santa Cruz. For years afterwards I thought about going back. Getting some money and getting a place to live. But I haven’t been back in years.
I grew a lot in two years. I was born again. I created myself with new roots. But if I went back today, it would be empty. The town isn’t the same. The people aren’t the same. Nothing would be the same. I have changed. The city has changed. Things change.
When I made the move from Santa Cruz to Portland it was all about getting off the streets. The main reason I wanted to make the change wasn’t money. It wasn’t about being uncomfortable. It wasn’t about a warm house. Or making money.
I was lonely at the end. When I first got on the street I had friends. But then they left one by one. And I didn’t make new friends. And I thought I could meet someone special. I imagined having a girl friend. Living in a place I could where I could take a woman. Not just for sex, but to watch movies, to eat dinner.
The biggest reason I wanted to get off the street was boredom. My days were empty. I wasn’t doing anything with my life. I wanted to do something in the world. Maybe be a writer. Maybe something else. It wasn’t specific. Just I wanted to do and be someone special.
All these years later I am the same. A homeless person with a house. A poor person with a job. My heart hasn’t changed. As much as I want. I imagined I was growing up. But I am still the same child I was on the street. But more alone, and in some ways more troubled.
In the first year on the street I felt many things. But rarely did I feel alone. In Santa Cruz, and San Francisco and even Berkeley I met people. Not just homeless people. Real people in the community. And this is why I imagined life would be better when I got a place to live.
Maybe the mistake was moving to Portland. I knew no one in Portland. But I feared staying in Santa Cruz would mean not growing. I wanted and needed a change right? And I don’t know the change could have happened in Santa Cruz.
Even now writing this I think about going back. But you can’t go home again. The past is the past because it has past. And it won’t pass again. Raven, and Tony, and Moon Raven, and the high school girls. They are all gone. The corner where I spent time on the mall is gone.
It would be like walking around in a haunted city. Every corner has a memory. And all the memories are pulling me backwards. When I need to be moving forward.
There have been times I visited Santa Cruz. And I wondered around like a man in a circular room looking for the corner. It wasn’t the Santa Cruz I knew. The Santa Cruz I knew was a dream. Like Woodstock in the 1906s. Like the Summer of Love. It was a good dream. But it was a dream I lived and cannot live again.
And if I could live it again. Would I really want to go through all the lessons over? Our dreams like this are sent to us as lessons. And when we have learned, we move on to the next dream. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to return. Anymore than I could go back to high school. Of course I hated high school.
The movie Napoleon Dynamite reminds me of my high school years. And I hated my high school years. I was picked on, had no friends. I was lonely all the time. There was a trapped feeling I lived with all those years. And I still don’t understand what the trap was, but it was there all the time. I couldn’t escape.
In Santa Cruz I felt free. But I never felt loved. I felt a part of a community at times. But I never felt a connection. There were friends in Santa Cruz, but there wasn’t family. Not after Raven left.
I left Santa Cruz to create a new life. But have I only created a different life? Am I any better off now because I have a laptop and a tablet and a cellphone. Does my job at Walmart make me better off? I am not a writer. I am not doing anything of value with my life.
I am still alone.
It doesn’t feel like it could really have been almost 20 years. But it has. I feel like it was yesterday. And I feel like it could be tomorrow.
Is this even worth what I gave up to attain it. Maybe I gave up nothing. But nothing is a lot. Janis Joplin’s words haunt me day and night. “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose…”
And now I have plenty to lose. But little freedom. And is it worth the cost? I don’t want to go back to sleeping in the woods. I can’t and I won’t do it again. But how much longer can I live with this boredom?