The people of Burke and of Grattan
That gave, though free to refuse –
pride, like that of the morn,
When the headlong light is loose…
-W. B. Yeats
I was at one time, a citizen of Del Mar near San Diego and I was fired after writing weekly editorials for several newspapers in which I named the bagman for local developers, one Hershell Price, who was at the time pretending not to be married to County Supervisor Pam Slater Price. When my mother died due to a Scripps Memorial doctor’s administration of a fatal drug and my girlfriend married a cretin, I left in an old blue Ford with a camper shell, driving aimlessly north as far as the road might lead.
and now in an antique Southwind motor home and began a journey north that I initially thought would end, one way or another. After a couple years, I got to Seattle, where my brother lives and I was struck by the sameness of that huge, urban place, compared with other urban developments: San Diego, LA, the Bay Area, Santa Barbara, places less tolerant of me and my old motor home and my dog than I was of them. At least, I was curious and saw the differences between people. My experience was much the way Exupéry describes the asteroids visited by the little prince.
Places, where I’ve stayed longer, were simply those in which people were more tolerant and just as curious about me as I was about them. They also had some mysterious quality that made them this way, expressed in peculiar human and natural eccentricities. I’ve recorded many digital and verbal memories. But, although, people in these places tolerated my existence, my mobile lifestyle made them uneasy, they couldn’t peg me and though there are people I think of with affection and would like to see again, I formed no enduring bonds, holding always open, the option of an abrupt and very easy departure.
Two years ago, my companion of 15 years, a Pomeranian, who was the very soul of love died in my arms in the middle of the night as we lay on the carpet of a redwood forest floor. The following morning and for months afterwards, I grieved with a sadness that can only be described as intolerable. Everything in the world was intolerable but especially the human beings, who were already in my eyes, pathetically self-deceived. I paid my rent, repaired the motor home to make it more seaworthy and one day, when, after paying the rent at an RV park where I lived near Fort Bragg, CA, the idiot, who was half my age and twice my size, who had that week inherited the park, called me an “irresponsible parasite” obviously not because I was a day late with the rent. Killing him was not an option because of the consequences and I realized that his judgment was not a product of anything he knew about me but rather an image created by small town gossip.
In four hours I had secured everything, parked the Ford behind a friend’s house and I left that night, staying overnight at another trailer park a quarter mile south. In the morning, I went to the homes and businesses of people I’d come to know to say goodbye. Some places, I had to leave a note. The note said, “Hi, [name], I’m going south to find a place to live while I get an MFA in music at the Academy of Art University. Sorry, I missed you. I’ll write and tell you more, when I can. Thank you for your kindness and friendship.” Depending on the relationship, I signed it, “Yours,” or “Much love,”
I had decided to do what I’ve always loved, music. I’d already removed the king size bed in the back of the Southwind to make room for a music and editing studio and enrolled at AAU. The irony of this story is that I did not until my second semester understand the power and effect that my decision would have on the quality of my life in every way.
Where and how I arrived in Santa Maria is another story, which I will eventually tell.