Transient: A Pilgrimage
Transient [n]: a high amplitude, short-duration sound at the beginning of a waveform that occurs in phenomena such as musical sounds, noises or speech.
“I also do believe that we have this possibility of doing a pilgrimage every single day. Because a pilgrimage implies in meeting different people, in talking to strangers, in paying attention to the omens, and basically being open to life. And, we leave our home to go to work, to go to school, and we have every single day this possibility, this chance of discovering something new. So, the pilgrimage is not for the privileged one who can go to Spain and to France, and walk this 500 miles, but to people who are open to life. A pilgrimage, at the end of the day, is basically get rid of things that you are using, and try something new.”
— Paulo Coelho [Interview from On Being with Krista Tippett]
Let’s get this over with quickly. It’s not fun to talk about or to hear about and it’s nothing too different from a lot of people’s stories:
This last year was the pits. It was full of loss and grief. My partner of 9 years broke up with me because she was just kind of over me. I was over me too. I ate too much, drank too much, didn’t make enough money to pay the bills - one time, when her folks came into town, I hadn’t paid the power bill so we had no power for 24 hours while they were there. No A/C and flashlights and candles. I was 37. Gross. I was unhappy with not doing the job I really wanted to do, not making enough money, getting chubbier by the month and feeling the ever increasing distance between Faye and me.
For a year and a half, every day, I felt how much she didn’t feel for me. My first dog, Sal, had awful arthritis. The vet found it when she was two. By the time she was 9, she got another x-ray and my vet said that it was all along her spine, neck and back end. He said it was “horrendous” and that her days of running around and playing were pretty much over. I’d been worried about that day since she starting having problems when she was about one. I was devastated.
That’s kind of how it felt to watch Faye leave me. It happened slowly over a few years. I always joked that if I had to Sophie’s Choice between Faye and Sal, I’d give Faye to the Nazi’s. Maybe I shouldn’t have made that joke so much. I dunno.
I was depressed and had been for a long time. I was no longer the catch I used to be. We both knew it. And during a pretty bad bout of depression, we broke up. Then I got REAL bad and through the help of my friends and Faye, I went to an outpatient program for depression at a hospital. For the second time in my life. The first time I’d gone was exactly 15 years prior.
While I was in the program, I got fired from my super part time job as a podcast producer. I had been thinking about quitting anyway, but it was still hard to take. Then, right after I completed the program, my fave cousin, Peter, and his wife, Annie, told me they were moving. They were the fam that accepted me completely and loved both Faye and me. We spent holidays with them. When they told me they were moving, it felt like a semi truck speeding up my throat. I just swallowed it down and pretended I wasn’t about to lose it.
When I’m depressed, unloading the dishwasher is hard. When it was bad this summer, I would tell myself, “Ok, Faye and Randy will be home from the cabin soon so just open the dishwasher, and every time you walk through the kitchen, put one thing away.” And that one thing would usually end up being a few things, but man. That’s how hard life was.
I’d never grieved so many things at once, so hard: Faye, her mom, dad, two sisters, their husbands and my niece and nephew. Plus the whole extended fam. Then I was grieving the loss of my house, my two cats, one of the two dogs and then Peter and Annie moving away.
My BFF, Sarah, and her partner, Amani, offered for me to live with them in Rochester, MN. I lived there rent free, went to therapy and found a couple of part-time jobs editing podcasts.* I’m not ready to write about this part of my life yet. I can’t begin to put into words how much this time and their friendship, love and care was instrumental and necessary for me to heal. The healing took six months.
* [Aspiring filmmakers, check out The Filmback Podcast. Cory and Claire are so delightful. They interview people who are already in the film industry.]
I decided to go visit Peter and Annie in Scottsdale, AZ. I was making about $150 per week and figured I could drive there, stay a couple weeks, then head up the coast as I made money.
This would be another great American Road Trip: me, my dog, google maps, couch surfing and Tinder.
I met this girl, Vanessa, on couchsurfing.com. I sent her a sort of official request, saying that I was on a pilgrimage and was hoping to stay in Omaha, because I had recently visited and liked it, etc.
Within five minutes of me sending her a request, she wrote me back, saying:
Then we texted for two hours. During this time she made me laugh so hard my cheeks hurt.
I was like, THIS girl is rad. I cannot wait to kick it with her and hear all of her stories.
And this is how chill she is. Two days later she texted saying, “Are you coming today or mañana?”
So, Monday, Jan 25th, I left.
Me leaving home:
Omaha - Week 1
I arrived in Omaha around 5:30 PM. I hit a snowstorm about an hour and a half from Omaha so that slowed me down a bit. Vanessa and her dog, Duchess, met Moze and me outside. She warned me that her dog was a spicy taquito but was usually friendly after about 80 seconds - sometimes 72.
We went inside and she made us hot toddies. And she had these little homemade cinnamon rolls with glaze all ready for us. Adorable.
Just as I had strongly suspected, Vanessa and I hit it off immediately. We sat on the floor, drank and chatted. Then we had us some absinthe.
We walked the dogs around her hood, which reminded me a little bit of Brooklyn. There are bars and restaurants all around her.
Then we went bar hopping. Her roommate, Matt, joined us for a bit. He was super fun too.
After we got home, Vanessa decided to do a Shamanic ceremony on me. This is a clip of us talking about it the next day:
In the morning, Vanessa made me the CUTEST breakfast ever. This isn’t even everything on the table. There were also homemade black beans with onions and bacon, and Turkish Delights.
During breakfast, Vanessa told me that my visit was not at all what she had expected:
Lastly, from The Castle, here’s a few seconds of a funny convo I got on tape:
Vanessa is challenging herself to not purchase any food for one year. Listen to her story here.
Driving through Nebraska was a blast. Until it wasn’t. I was sad to leave Vanessa but I was happy to have made a new homie.
On the drive I listened to a lot of music. I had my library on shuffle, and I had forgotten about the song Carries On by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. It gave me chills.
I’d never driven through Nebraska before, and why I didn’t listen to Bruce Springsteen while doing so is lost on me. I loved all the lagoons on the side of the road. It made me think of Chanel #3 from Scream Queens when she talked about disposing of a dead body in the poop lagoons. I kept my eye out, but didn’t see any.
While the sun started to set, I drove by an old painted school bus on the side of the road that had black and white cow spots and said NEBRASKA. For some reason, that creeped me out. Then I started thinking about Brandon Teena and how he was raped and murdered in this state. Suddenly the scenery became creepy. It felt like I was in a documentary. You know when the sun is setting and the scenery is flashing by as the sun is setting? Then I saw a fence that reminded me of the fence that Mathew Shepard was tied to when he was murdered. Jesus, didn’t that happen here too?
But then I was eased out of the creeps as the landscape began to shift. I love watching it evolve from farmland into gradual slopes of rock. That always excites me. Soon enough, there would be mountains.
That night, around 7PM - after dark - my car just stopped and wouldn’t start again. I was supposed to meet my friend, Jodi, in Boulder that night. Turns out, I ran out of gas due to a faulty gas gauge. The rest of the trip, I have to go by mileage. No big. But, I did have to get a tow truck and sneak Moze into a hotel that night.
Get this. My cousin, Peter, broke down on that same stretch of highway like 20 years ago with his dog, Althea.
The next day, I met Jodi in Boulder for coffee and she drove me through the mountains.
“Sign me up, Santa Fe [and call your son]" - Beirut
Then I left for Albuquerque to stay with a dude I had messaged on couchsurfing. On the drive, I got a little worried though, and I chickened out. So, I went to Santa Fe instead. I pulled in, stopped at Whole Foods and asked someone working where to stay on the cheap and where to hang out.
It turns out, I was blocks from a super fancy Motel 6. This was my view.
Then I went to Trader Joe’s, got some food and booze, and asked a cute girl where to hang out. She was delightful and told me about a dive bar called The Matador. I debated going, but ended up working in the hotel room.
That night, I messaged a few peeps on OkCupid and Tinder to see if I could meet locals and hang out. This girl, Darcy, wrote me the next morning saying that she didn’t get the message until the morning and asked if I was gonna stick around for a bit. Santa Fe was so interesting and fun, I decided to stay another night and figure out where to stay later.
I walked around all day. I hadn’t realized that Santa Fe is the third largest art city in the US after New York and LA.
Darcy agreed to meet me for a drink, and told me a couple of things to do for the day. Very sweet of her. She told me that I should go watch the sunset at Cross of the Martyrs. So I did:
After the sunset, I had dinner at Blue Corn Cafe. [Darcy’s recommendation.] The server suggested I try the Indian bread taco with carne adovada, which is New Mexican pork that’s slow cooked in red chiles. Omg. I had no idea what I’d been missing. Here’s a recipe.
Darcy and I had a drink at The Matador which was super divey, punk rock and awesome.
We were both on a budget so we decided to go back to her place for drinks. And, she offered to let us crash there that night! Whew!
So, two hours after meeting Darcy - not even - we go back to her place. This is what happened:
Leaving Santa Fe:
Darcy was delightful. We stayed up late chatting and recording. Darcy told me about her time organizing for SlutWalk, a group devoted to ending rape culture. She told me a moving story of why this matters to her. Listen to her story here.
I didn’t leave Santa Fe in time to get to Sedona before the sun set, and it was still around 28 degrees at night so I decided on hitting up a motel.
On my drive I got the crazies. It felt like when dogs all of the sudden run laps around the house for no reason: kitchen, living room, couch, kitchen, living room, bathroom [no one’s there!] living room...
This might remind my MN friends that they’re happy I’m gone on TV nights:
The drive to Sedona was super fun. It was a lovely, sunny day and the landscape was getting increasingly mountainous. I pulled off the freeway to get gas, and a roadrunner scurried it’s tiny wheel legs in front of my car. It made me laugh out loud. Speaking of the gas sitch, it turns out my gauge is off by a little less than half a tank. Dumb.
I finished listening to Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. I was hoping to have that life-changing moment with this book that everyone has, but I’d already heard most of the best parts of it from his interview with Krista. However, now that I just looked up quotes from the book, I want to read it and highlight it, rather than listen to it. Wow, these are really amazing insights: quotes from The Alchemist.
This one, though, is one of my faves: “And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
So, Moze and I were planning on camping in Sedona and meditating in the vortexes. I drove in from the top of...Sedona I guess, at around 6,000 feet above sea level. The drive down the spiraly mountain was a 7% decline and it was fantastic. I literally had my mouth open in a big smile. I was very suddenly driving amongst a mountain so deep and big, that the tree trunks had to grow themselves up several stories before they even began to birth their branches. How resourceful, I thought. Nature really does want to live and it finds a way to do so.
This drive. Omg. I was exclaiming out loud and couldn’t even record or take pics because I was busy navigating the turns and curves. My car engine grumbled as it automatically slowed down; like, dude, this is a lot. Use your breaks.
The campsites I wanted - the ones towards the top and away from most of the people - were closed due to snow. I wanted to show the campground police my MN license plates to prove that I could hack it. But I knew that would be a lost cause. And I knew I’d be too cold anyway. The one campsite that was open was packed. Gross. [I had forgotten it was Saturday.]
So, on to Scottsdale I went. But first, Moze and I took a walk in the red rocks:
Peter and Annie’s house does not suck. It’s a sweet, big house where I have my own room with my own bathroom. The yard has a pool, outdoor grilling station, fireplace, putting green, and hot tub. The grass is the most plush grass I’ve ever felt. Every day, I enjoy this grass. I meditate there. And lie down and drink the sun. When I get up, there’s an imprint of my body, not unlike a snow angel. They got some fancy ass grass.
Moze was so very happy to see his favorite little cousin friend, Margaret Thatcher. They are total buddies.
I sat by the outside fire by myself, and had a bit of a moment:
I’m having a blast here. Peter and Annie are hilarious, generous, tender-hearted, and smart across all areas. They love each other in a way that I almost never see. Their lives full of love, humor, patience, and adventure. And triplets. As in one, two, three. All boys. They’ll be three years old in a couple weeks.
Annie and I are obsessed with talking in Target Lady voice. I love that we can be loud, hyper and funny, and then we can sit down and talk about our spiritual beliefs and politics. Oh, and fisting. Always fisting.
Did you get those convos on tape, Bekah?
I’m glad you asked:
This next one is a timely political convo, and I really had an ah-ha moment [© 1994, OPRAH WINFREY, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED] with what Peter had to say about political evolution. Then we all discussed Bernie vs. Hillary. I found this to be super interesting and illuminating:
For those of you who don’t know Peter and Annie, real sorry for your loss.
If you listened to the clip of me leaving Santa Fe, you heard my song being interrupted by my friend Kara.
She came to visit me here for just two days. [She couldn’t take more time off of werk.] Her visit was so incredibly lovely and nourishing. We hadn’t seen each other in about 7 years, and were mostly peripheral friends. We reconnected a couple of months ago, and I am certain it’s kismet. We both needed someone like each other in our lives to continue on our path of growth and healing. Plus, she’s hilarious. She fit right in here with us. [Except for her San Francisco hippy-ass diet.]
Kara and I tried to catch the sunset on Camelback Mountain, but there’s really nowhere to park on the East side, as all of the rich people here live in gated communities with cameras. Before we hopped in the car, she went across the street to pick some tangerines from the neighbors tree, and we ate them while driving, throwing the seeds out the window. We ended up watching the sunset while driving by the mountain, which was fine; we had tangerines and a grapefruit. Kara got a pic of The Praying Monk on the mountain:
We were both so happy and car danced to the anthem of this current part of my life; the best song I’ve heard in 7 years. This is the song that kicked off my new chapter. I fell in love with it even before I knew it was about traveling. I highly recommend reading the lyrics:
Kara googled “dive bars by me” and we ended up at a bar in a strip mall called Dilly Dally. We walked in to the dimly lit dive at around 6 PM, and the 8 people that were there collectively turned their heads towards us. Record scratch. It was super quiet - no music, nobody talking - and Kara whispered to me, “They play the best music here.”
Wednesday, February 10
Drinking bourbon and watching the sunset in McDowell Mountain campgrounds. Is there anything like a sunset in the desert mountains? It feels so good to be camping in the warmth with zero mosquitoes. Not a one. Setting up camp in the 85 degree weather kicked my Minnesotan ass.
Right now, looking across the pink and soft gray that’s illuminating the mountains and the saguaro cacti, I feel like I’m in a movie. I can hear several different kinds of birds singing their last calls before the sun sets. The spectrum of orange and pink in the sky melting into blues is magical. I can’t wait to see the sunrise tomorrow.
Slideshow of McDowell Mountains:
I want everyone I know and love to experience desert mountain sunsets.
I can’t help but think of another Beirut song, Scenic World:
“When I feel alive, I try to imagine a careless life
a scenic world where the sunsets are all breathtaking…”
Reading those lyrics doesn’t even give the song justice. This is one of my all time faves. Top 50 even.
Day Two at McDowell Mountains [Or, Day 17]
The sun is setting at the same campsite, and I’ve got cauliflower, onions, yams and mushrooms cooking on the feeray. Last night after I watched the sunset, I made a fire and wrote some more. I ended up asking my next door camping neighbs if they wanted to have a drink and they were almost out of beer, so I grabbed my bourbon. In return, they gave Moze their leftover mac n’ cheese, and me some friends for the night and good conversation. As it turns out, they were fellow midwesterners hailing from Wisconsin.
Get this: they decided to go camping for one night so that they could go biking here. Lucas even had to work in the morning and I heard him leave before sunrise. That is badass. I want more people like that in my life. Maybe it’s because they aren’t married and are young. But, whatever. I have a friend who, right now at this very moment, drove to Tucson for the gem show and to meet her friend who is hitchhiking from California. She gasjugs [bums gas, a term she just taught me] and shouts out poetry to strangers on the street for money. Hopefully, we’ll be meeting up in a day or two for my very first ever Rainbow Gathering. I’m stoked. Next week I hope to post audio of Aurora’s story and hopefully some other interesting peeps I meet at the gathering.
On my short walk back from my new camping pals’ site, I saw a shooting star. I don’t remember the last time I saw one. Upon seeing it I almost made a wish, but instead I laughed and thought, “You know what my wish is, you.”
I heard coyotes maybe 7 times throughout the night. Real exciting! Once time, they were pretty close to the campgrounds. Then when I woke up in the middle of the night, an owl hooted me back to sleep. [So tender.]
This clip isn’t the best for the coyotes, but you can still hear them:
Thank you to those of you who are reading this and thank you for all of the kind words and support. Super props and thanks to those who listen to the audio. For me, that’s kind of the heart of this project. It means so much to me that I have incredible people who believe in me and support me. I love you guys. So dearly.
My friend, Aurora was having van troubles and still waiting for her friends to arrive from California via hitchhiking and train hopping. So, I decided to go to Globe, which was right by the festival to just chill. I needed to do about 6 or 7 hours of work anyway and needed wifi.
Upon leaving the McDowell Mountain campsite, I went into the bathroom in the RV area which had running water. I walked in, and a lady around 55, was at the sink curling her frosted hair. She smiled at me and expressed a sincerely friendly good morning which I cheerfully returned. There were only two stalls so I went into the one right next to her and was super glad I didn’t have pee anxiety. That’s just uncomfortable and anxiety enducing. Especially after you are now traveling commrades.
I got out of the bathroom and she moved over to let me into the sink area.
I said something small like “Can I sneak in here?”
And she was like, “Of course! I hear so many Northen accents here!”
I said, “What did I say? How did you know?”
She said, “I knew it from the moment you said hi.”
This woman was adorable. She asked me about my travels and upon learning that I’m doing this pilgrimage with just my dog she told me that she was proud of me. So tender.
She told me she lives in Colorado and I told her that I had come from there a couple of weeks ago.
She said, “Did you come down road blah blah?”
I said, “I dunno...so many roads.”
“That’s a Grateful Dead song!” She said, excited. “You should listend to it.” She told me that it was recorded shortly before Jerry died.
I told her I’d listen to it on my drive to Globe. That made her happy. She wished me luck, and off I went.
Side note, Faye was at this concert - the last concert before Jerry died. I asked her about it just before writing this. She doesn’t remember the song and she remembers almost nothing about the show.
“I remember the parking lot.” She said. “We were really high.”
I drove through the Tonto National Forest. Holy shit, everybody. This drive was just as amazing as the drive down the mountain in Sedona. Probably more amazing. Even though I didn’t end up meeting Aurora in Globe, this drive was worth the two hours.
My sister and I used to sing this song when we were kids:
Don’t Fence Me In
Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don’t fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
Don’t fence me in
Let me be by myself in the evenin’ breeze
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don’t fence me in
Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies
On my cayuse, let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountains rise
I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences
Don’t fence me in
[Written by Cole Porter, lyrics by Robert Fletcher]
The next day, I decided to drive to Tucson and hang with Aurora while she was still waiting for the train hoppers.
Yet another, delightful, sunny drive through the desert mountains.
Listening to Under African Skies while driving:
Then I saw this and immediately pulled over.
Tucson! I’d arrived! I was heading to the gem show to meet Aurora when this gem came on the radio:
This day is one of my fave days since I left MPLS. Aurora and I drove a few blocks to where there was free parking. She has a cattle dog too and we hung out in the shade of the van and had drinks while Jefe and Moze got acquainted.
I hadn’t seen Aurora in probably 8 years, and we’d never spent time together one on one. She is unique, kind, funny, independent, spiritual and so chill.
She is a traveler. She lives in her sweet van that has a bed and kitchen area. I meant to get her stories but the night we had planned to record was the same night that her friends finally got into town. We’re hoping to reconnect again soon.
The Dirt Parking Lot
After we kicked it in her van for a couple hours, we drove a few blocks to where we would stay for the night in the dirt parking lot. The gem show was happening in Tucson, so there were all kinds of people in town, as well as groups of people who were headed to the Rainbow Gathering.
The first folks I met were Jacob and Ashley. They are a delightful couple who have the best baby ever. I didn’t hear her cry at all and she was almost always smiling.
In the Rainbow Family community, everybody shares everything: food, booze, weed, tools, rides...you name it.
Slideshow of The Dirt Lot:
That night we just hung out and shared stories while all of the dogs hung out and some played. There were probably 15 dogs running around. This is the happiest I’d seen Moze since we left.
In the morning, Aurora, Jacob, Ashley and me had some food to share for breakfast. Aurora made us a super delicious meal while the other parking lot peeps played music and we passed around a joint. Some of our breakfast Aurora had found from a co-op dumpster. Like fancy organic butter that had been thrown out because the corner wrapper had been barely punctured. So. Wasteful.
iPhone recording of the music a playin’ and breakfast a sizzlin’:
After breakfast, Aurora and I checked out the gem show. The parking lot was right next door to one of the shows. I was actually blown away by what I saw.
I cannot believe how these gems and rocks form in nature. I was super excited by all of the crazy ass colors and formations.
Aurora put it best: “Earth, you crazy!”
If you haven’t had a homemade tamale from one of the ladies who walk around selling them out of a bag, you might not have had an actual, good tamale. I had no idea. Aurora bought us some. Omg. Yum.
I ended up buying one piece that I was super drawn to. It’s blue Kyonite.
When we left the show, we walked past a parked bus, and an older hippie appeared in the door. He said, “Hey! You guys wanna wake n’ bake?” I think his name was Curt. He had a long grey pony tail, beard, tie dyed shirt and sandals with socks. He was super friendly and happy. We sat outside in the shade of his bus while he and Aurora shared funny stories about being harassed by cops and life on the road.
During the afternoon everyone just kind of takes a break from taking a break to find shade. Moze and I took a nap under the only tree there which was right by where we all hung out anyway. It was some kind of pine. I heard a big bird fly super close, and then heard him chirp right above me. It was a black bird about the size of a smaller crow [Aurora figured out it was a grackle.] I sat up, and he was looking right at me and talking to me. I just kept saying, “Hi dude.” And he’d tilt his head like a dog and talk back. Moze sat up too and both of us just watched this goofy bird interact with us. It was so curious! And lovely. I didn’t understand what was happening. Aurora saw this interaction and wondered what a grackle meant for a spirit animal.
So, I looked it up. Here’s part of it:
“Grackles as happy bird species are known for its gleeful ability chattering playfully and actively.
The Grackle’s iridescent coloring reflects a need to look at their life differently. Situations are not always what they appear to be –
particularly when dealing with emotions. Emotions that are not dealt with can clog our emotions, even to the point of creating physical congestion. Look at your life and take a new approach to the way you see it.
Look past the emotional turmoil and find the joy in your life too.
Grackle also reminds us to take action, not just rehash everything, talk about it and not doing anything to resolve the problem.
Pine fragrances can be helpful during meditation with this totem.”
When I read that last part, Ashley said “And you were napping under a pine tree!”
We ended up parting ways - on accident - and I decided not to hit up the gathering. Kara and her super lovely friend Betsy were in town for the gem show. I met them for coffee then dinner. It was the first time I’d met Betsy and she was hilarious, interesting and kind. I’m so glad to have met her.
Downtown Tucson is rad! We hung out on 4th Ave. which is I guess where the cool kids kick it. Lots of great bars, cafes, tattoo shops, a co-op and all kinds of creative people. The next day, I went back to the same area and had a mole latte at a sexy coffee shop. What. Moze is a chick magnet, btw. [For him, not me.]
So that night, I ended up in a motel. [Thank you, Dubsy!] Moze and I were super dirty and dusty from the lot. I needed a shower and Moze needed a bath. Plus, I had work to do and needed hours of wifi. Whew.
I headed back to Scottsdale to Peter and Annie’s:
I just got off the phone with my friend, Andrew Forsthoefel. He’s the dude who walked across America when he was 23 with a sign on his back that said, “Walking to Listen.” His story was featured on This American Life. I’ve never met him in person, but after I heard his story on the radio, I was led to visit Transom.org, which is a story and showcase for new public radio. Transom teaches you how to make radio. Transom changed my life.
When I was the producer for This is Radio Cast, I booked Andrew for an interview and he and I have kept in touch. We’re kindred spirits of sorts although we barely know each other. During our most recent conversation, we talked about big life changes, and how we’re dealing with them. We are both wanderers, students of life and listeners. And we love hearing the stories of others.
Andrew has a beautiful, open heart and and a natural awareness of the world and people that is truly rare.
A topic had been coming up in the last three days for me and of course, it came up while talking with Andrew: living life not to the American standards that we grew up with, and being OK with choosing our own unconventional paths. Trusting that we know what is good for us. And knowing that if we feel the drive and the passion, that we are headed in the right direction and that life will provide what we need.
At one point, Andrew had mentioned reading Letters to a Young Poet, by Rainer Maria Rilke. I filed that in my brain, as I had received a copy of that book from Krista Tippet [from On Being - it’s her departing gift to the interns.]
Now, a year and a half later, I’m reading that book. This is an idea of Rilke’s that Andrew and I discussed:
“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually, without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
Andrew has a beautiful, open heart and and a natural awareness of the world and people that is truly rare. Check out his entire produced story here, or the shortened version of it on This American Life here.
Dude’s got a way with words. Check out and subscribe to his blog. He just finished a book about his journey which will be out next year.
I felt nourished and validated by our conversation. And honestly, the feedback from all of you who read this has been inspiring. I love hearing from all of my friends and it’s super rad to hear from old friends. I’m very grateful for those of you who continue to reach out to me and offer your homes, odd jobs [and even money.] True to my conversation with Andrew, this solidifies that my guts are doing the right thing.
Meanwhile, my friend and former Dog Bed roommate, Randy, was back in MPLS. This is what I missed:
I had a problem with my recorder this week and I lost a couple of audio files. Total bummer. But, I think it’s fixed. Fingers crossed. More audio next week.
Thank you all so much for reading, looking and listening. All the love.
We lost two of the greats today: Olive, one of the last of the OG’s, the dog that we all loved, and Harper Lee.
Olive was all of ours. Literally. When I was living with Sarah and Amani in Chest, Sarah came home from the vet. She walked in the door and I said, “What happened?”
“Bad news, dude. She’s riddled with cancer.”
That was maybe a couple months ago. The day I left, I knew I’d never see her again. The last thing I said to her was thank you.
She was lucky enough to have had 6 moms in her life, and several others who loved her. I was one of those moms. Sal [my first dog] and I helped to raise her. I was lucky enough to live with her again for the last part of her life.
But, I saw her always. Many visits and slumber parties.
Olive was sweet, playful, bossy to other dogs and a great listener. Besides her peeps, her favorite things were white rice - which she would beg for with puppy ears, and eat whole bowls of it. She also loved snow and long, snake-like plush toys. She was the leader of our dog pack.
Sarah and Amani had a vet come to the house to put her down, so I meditated with my kyanite during the time that it was supposed to happen.
I don’t like that I’m not there. At the very least to give Sarah and Amani food and booze for the weekend. And to hug my dudey.
This morning while I was drinking my coffee, my friend Jessica texted me an article about the death of Harper Lee and said, “Thinking of you :(”
Is it possible that when you love someone and have an experience so deep, that it literally becomes a part of you? In a metaphysical way, I mean. I hope so. Otherwise the loss would just build up and keep compounding.
After Sal died, I went out for drinks with Sarah. I asked her how are we supposed to do this? How can we continue to experience loss after loss and not be crumpled by it? Doesn’t it just continue to compound?
My friends, Shelley and Jolie, lost their great love this week too. I texted them and said, “You’ll probably never get over Lucy, and there’s some beauty in that, I think.”
Perhaps that’s what makes loss ok in some backwards way. I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure this out.
This is yet another lesson I’m here to learn: loss and how to deal with it. I was a dog walker for 14 years and losing the dogs never got easier.
As I’m writing, my sister just texted me this:
I got this message from my little 5 year old buddy, Gus:
In other news, my recorder works! More audio next week. Thank you for reading and for all of the support and love. Giving it back to you.
Cowboy/biker/rich people town! I’m here again after 17 years. Cave Creek is FULL of bikers. Moze and I are at a biker bar right now enjoying a Bloody Mary and coffee.
I have always been fascinated by real bikers. The leather faced, wrinkly, bandana wearing, leather all summer, live to riders. And live to party.
There’s a Hell’s Angels chapter here and I’m trying to manifest meeting one and record him. That would be incredible. What.
Some people on horses just horsed on by. I love cowboy towns! I’ve been waiting for Moze to see his first horse. It was uneventful. He just watched them. But I can check that one off the list.
The bar next to me has rodeos there. Super sad but that’s how much of a cowboy town this is.
My aunt and uncle - Peter’s folks - have a place in Carefree, which is why I’m here.
I’ve been drinking Chardonnay again. I’m not sure why my friends think it’s funny when I do. I mean, I kind of get it. Aunt Gail and Uncle Matt left for NY so I was by myself.
Here’s what I did: Chardonnay photo shoot or, Chardonnailed it!
I’ve been tracking an owl every night since I’ve been here with no luck. I just want to know which cactus he lives in! And get a good recording.
Some of you know I’ve been an on again off again Private Investigator since high school. My friend Mollie Divine made me a PI name tag at the drugstore where she worked, and my friend Liz gave me a badge. I’m pretty official.
I try to brush up on my PI skills anytime I can, and since I love owls, I decided that this was kismet. And so, I set out to solve The Mystery of the Carefree Owl.
I started from square one, where any skilled PI starts:
The 5 W’s
Who is he? That one I’ve solved. He’s an owl.
What kind is he? I cross referenced my bird app with google. Based on his location and hoot, I determined that he is a Great Horned Owl.
Where is he located?
When is he around? Every night, after dusk.
Why? Because, science. His species survived evolution and his folks boned and made babies.
Four out of five isn’t bad in the PI world. But, because I’m a professional, I need to solve the last of the 5 W’s: Where.
Where EXACTLY is he located? And can I get an up close recording of his hoot? Owl fact: Even though owls are typically big, you can’t hear them fly due to their super stealth spy wings.
A barred owl flew right over me at Dog Bed once and I couldn’t hear a thing. It was pretty amazing.
Peter and Annie have some friends in town, so since it was a full house, I hit up some peeps I found on Couchsurfing.com.
I came across the profile of a gay 29 year old named Clark. He lives with his partner and two dogs in Phoenix. He’s a naturist - which means nudist. He and his husband Blake, are polyamorous. So, I asked them if I could crash there for a night and record their story.
We had a delightful evening with cocktails and great conversation. They set me up in my own room where I had the best nights’ sleep! And their dogs. What.
And yes, Clark was naked when I got there.
I recorded a conversation with Clark and Blake. I asked them all about being a naturist.
I met this rad girl, Cherry, on OkCupid about a month and a half ago. Her profile said that she was traveling in AZ as well as one million other things I liked about her. Plus, she was a babe, so I sent her a message.
It turned out she was no longer in AZ, but would be back soon to meet her biker friends for a Tucson and Bisbee adventure. We talked about trying to meet up for part of her time here if it worked out.
We messaged back and forth a few times and she told me that Tucson and Bisbee were here fave cities in AZ. I filed that info away, which helped me to make the decision to go to Tucson a few weeks ago.
Fast forward to last weekend. Cherry had time to kill between the time her flight landed and her bike rental pick-up time. So, I picked her up from the airport on Friday, and we went out for brunch and drinks by the Harley place in Scottsdale. We totally hit it off. We talked about so many things: sex work, family, religion, travel...
Cherry is a high end companion, or escort. She is also in the process of getting her doctorate and had a career as a successful photojournalist. She’s hilarious, super smart, honest, open, adventurous and generous.
Towards the end of brunch, she asked me if I was going to go to Bisbee. Her and a few other queer biker babes? Duh.
Moze and I hit the road around 4PM, and around 6 o’clock, I got a text from Cherry saying that she and one of the girls were in Tucson, waiting for another friend to arrive. They were at the bar, and I should come by if I’m not yet in Bisbee. I was at the exact right exit when I got that text. So, I pulled off the freeway and met them.
I fucking love Tucson. So many weirdos, creatives, queers, hippies, real punk rockers, people with dogs, some mentally ill folks and open-minded everybodys.
Theres a middle aged scrawny white dude with long damaged, dry hair who rides his bike around 4th Ave. He’s got a ghetto blaster strapped to the back of his bike, and he blasts old school hip hop from the blown speakers. I was happy to see him again this time.
When I was there on Valentine’s Day, he stopped his bike on the sidewalk as I was getting into my car. Another dude danced up to my car, drunk and smiling. So naturally, I rolled down my window. He was so happy and drunk and talking about fried chicken that’s just up the road. I was like, “Are you asking me for money for fried chicken?” And he answered with another story about the fried chicken up the road. So I gave him a dollar.
I met Cherry and two of her biker friends at a dive bar.
The girls are in a Chicago riders club that they started called The Bleeders.
The Bleeders came out of a group of women riders we’ve worked to get together over the last couple years. My friend Sarah and I started organizing garage nights and rides. This is how I met Cherry. I met Gianna and Kelsey by randomly going up to them and talking about bikes and we started riding together.
After doing those for a year or two there was talk of forming an actual riders group. During one of our bike nights we collectively tried to come up with a name. A lot of ideas were thrown out but we wanted something that was not super feminine or cutesy or sexy and also incorporated working on bikes. Kelsey came up with the name the bleeders. A lot of the girls were all about it but I held out on it because I wasn’t sure if it would be all encompassing enough and my whole goal in all of this was to unite all the girls in Chicago to ride together. I finally gave in and fell in love with the name. We don’t have an official number as far as members or a roster or anything like that. We welcome all girls and don’t have any rules.
First up is Kelsey, who has long, black hair and looks like a sexier, dirtier version of Abbi from Broad City. She’s all tatted out and rides a Harley. Right away, I figured her to be the happy, outgoing and crazy one. She’d be the person to call if you wanted a rowdy, drunken night out in a random town.
When I saw her bike for the first time, I commented on it being sexy. Then she humped it.
Michelle. Ohhh, Michelle. Her favorite words are whatever and cunt. I do an impression of her where I shrug my shoulders, look down to the side and flatly say, “Whatever.”
Michelle, along with her friends Nicole and Sarah organize an annual event called, Babes in Motoland. It’s a Midwest motorcycle ride and camp event just for ladies. If you are a lady rider or know any, feel free to pass the link along.
Cherry said that Michelle and I bickered like a married couple. The first morning in Bisbee, she got out of bed and came in to the room where I was already awake. I’m a morning person and am super awake right away. Michelle is not. At all. She told me to stop talking I think maybe 6 times that morning. She reminded me of a cranky teenager.
Michelle is that person with the tough exterior; she comes off as stand-offish and aloof, and I’m pretty sure she likes it that way. The thing is, with people who are so tough and guarded, you know that they’re often hurt, sensitive and tender hearted. It’s kind of a dead giveaway. It’s like plastic surgery. My friend, Melissa, once wrote, “Dear people with plastic surgery, We can tell.”
Being guarded and aloof is different than being a dick. I’m not saying that Michelle wasn’t ever a dick, she definitely was. However, I knew that there was a lot of goodness in her. I saw it right away. I’m not even sure how I first saw it, to be honest. Maybe it’s because I could see that she cared about her friends and loved them. Maybe it was because the friends she was with I liked immediately. Also, she’s fucking hilarious, which goes a long way with me.
Even when she was a dick, it felt like, “Ok dude, this is about you, not me.” And for some reason, that was mostly ok. I didn’t take offense to it a lot of the time. At one point though, after a full day of drinking, she said some dick thing to me - I don’t even remember what it was - and I said, “Can you just be nice to me?” She then went to her bike and came back a minute later. She gave me a hug and told me that she was sorry. Cherry had never seen Michelle hug anyone before.
[My take on our relationship is that she really found me super attractive and charming, and that scared the shit out of her. She was overwhelmed with her feelings for me so she pushed me away. She knew that I would break her heart some day.]
Here’s the real deal though. While we were on our trip, Michelle found out some very bad news about a good friend of hers. It really fucked with her, and rightly so. Plus, she got this news on her birthday.
When we got to Bisbee, we met Michelle’s friend, Day V. [Pronounced Davey.]
Day V. Omg. I love this kid. The first night I met him, he was wearing this flowy, silky, pastel robe-like shawl shirt situation. The next day, he was wearing this:
I liked Day V immediately. We’d be talking at the bar, he’d see someone sitting at a table by themselves, and he’d say, “I’m gonna go do a tarot reading.” Off he’d go and a half hour later he’d be back with $25 from the reading. This is how he makes money. He told me that in Bisbee, everyone just kind of pieces things together for income.
This town is even weirder that Tucson. I fell in love with it right away. I can’t believe I didn’t know about Tucson and Bisbee until recently.
Slideshow of Bisbee:
That night we drank in a few bars and then the girls let Moze and I sleep in their Air BnB. So kind of them. Sadly, Kelsey had to leave to go back to Tucson. Total bummer. I hope I get to hang out with her again some day.
This is Mike. He and I had a lovely conversation at the bar. He told me all about scorpion stings and snake bites. He’s been bitten by three rattlesnakes. Once, it was a baby snake who bit him, which is extra bad. Babies don’t know how to control their venom so they give it all to you. Mike iced his ankle, laid on the couch, had fever dreams for hours, and woke up the next day with a hugely swollen ankle. That’s badass.
Our time in Bisbee was too short, but hopefully I’ll be back there someday.
Cherry, Michelle and I went back to Tucson at night, and again, they were so generous with me and let me stay in their hotel room. I got there first and hung out with Moze in the parking lot. We played ball while I had a cocktail.
At one point, the ball rolled under a gate and into a dark side street. An older woman was there saying goodbye to her son who was leaving on a motorcycle. I asked her if she saw a ball, she looked around, didn’t see it and said, “I go to church in the morning so I’ll look for it then, sweetie.”
Five minutes later, she came out in her nightgown with a flashlight and found it. So. Cute. Again, she called me sweetie.
After the bikers arrived at the Tucson hotel, we dropped off our stuff in the room, and Cherry and I hit up the drive through liq.
Michelle was having a shitty day due to the news of her friend, which also made for a shitty birthday. Cherry and I went 4th Ave, got some pizza slices and brought one back to the hotel for Michelle. She had taken a Klonopin and was reading in bed. She wanted to pass out early.
So, Cherry and I sat outside and got drunk.
The next morning was Sunday. Brunch day! There’s one place in Tucson that has a Bloody Mary bar. And holy shit. I had the best bloody I’ve ever had in my life. Hands down. The restaurant is in a hotel. You stand in line, fill out your bloody form, and the bartender makes your drink.
The main Bloody bartender there is an award winning Blody Mary maker who trains all the other Bloody bartenders.
This is what I had:
Then we had the best breakfast ever. How spoiled we Americans are. It was legitimately amazing.
This. This is where I officially crushed out on Michelle.
I noticed a bird tattoo on her arm, and I asked what kind it was. She told me that it was a blue bird. I asked her why. Then she handed me her phone. She had pulled up this poem by Charles Bukowski:
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
I say, stay in there, I’m not going
to let anybody see
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I pour whiskey on him and inhale
and the whores and the bartenders
and the grocery clerks
never know that
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too tough for him,
stay down, do you want to mess
you want to screw up the
you want to blow my book sales in
there’s a bluebird in my heart that
wants to get out
but I’m too clever, I only let him out
at night sometimes
when everybody’s asleep.
I say, I know that you’re there,
so don’t be
then I put him back,
but he’s singing a little
in there, I haven’t quite let him
and we sleep together like
and it’s nice enough to
make a man
weep, but I don’t
I was really moved by this. This is why I liked her so much and this is one of the reasons why I think she’s a deep, tender person. She showed me this vulnerability. After I read it, I said, “Wow. Oh my god. I felt that in my feet.” At which point, Michelle looked away from me. Then I told her to stop hitting on me.
Here’s what I learned about myself from Michelle. Her delivery sucked [sound familiar, friends?] but, regardless, I got the point. I’d say, “So, I know that another person is coming tonight, I’ll move out of the room.” Michelle would say, “It’s fine. We have two queen beds and a pull out. If we thought you were overstaying we’d ask you to leave.”
“Are you sure? I can totally crash in my car.”
“I said it’s fine. Stop asking over and over and trying to get validation.”
“I’m not looking for validation I just don’t want to take advantage of you guys and I’m aware that you guys paid for the room.”
“Well if we don’t want you we’ll tell you. Stop asking the same question after I give you my answer.”
“You like me.”
[Eye roll, look away]
She was right. I do that. I need to trust that people will tell me the truth, and if they don’t, that’s on them and I have to be ok with that. However, it was challenging at times because Michelle wants people to be where she’s at, instead of meeting someone at least part way where they’re at.
Most of the time I’d shoot right back at her. That was our dynamic. Banter and bickering. I knew that she liked me though. She gave me her prescription pills when I had a fever and told me to drink lots of water. She got up early one morning and came into my room with free breakfast coupons cause she thought I’d be up too. She let me crash in the places she paid for. I was always welcome and invited to everything. And after a day or so, when she would make jokes, she’d often times glance at me with a little smile, knowing that I’d be the one laughing.
The night I was sick with bad dehydration - go figure - and a mild fever. Another biker friend of theirs, Gianna, came in from Chicago. I didn’t meet her in the morning since I was in bed. I liked her right away too. Delightful, funny, crass and beautiful just like all of the others.
I wish I got a pic of her chin tattoo: 2868, which spells CUNT on your phone. Her wife has the same tattoo in a different location. It was their anniversary gift to each other. Tender.
Unfortunately, this is the only up close pic I got of her:
Our last full day in Tucson, I asked Cherry what they were gonna do for the day. She said, “Riding, riding and more riding.”
When everyone got back from riding, we had a drink at our hotel patio, then went to the hotel bar. Cherry had a friend, Natalie, who lived in Tucson, so she and her boyfriend came to the hotel to chill in the hot tub.
Natalie is a sex worker too, so I recorded a conversation with her and her boyfriend, Carston. Again, two more honest, progressive, funny, sweet people. And they’re super fun to look at. Yikes.
Tuesday morning we had to leave the hotel. Everyone was going home. Cherry and I agreed to meet back at our brewery in Scottsdale where we first had brunch, right by the Harley rental place. So when Michelle was leaving the hotel, she glanced at me and said, “Bye.” I said, “Wait. Michelle. Come here.” Cherry said, “She’s not a hugger.” And off she went.
I got to the bar before Cherry, and after about 45 minutes, Michelle walked in. Change of plans I guess. Their ride was freezing - even with hoodies and light gloves. Michelle was quiet, cold, hungry and anxious. She ended up totally snapping at me. It was obvious something really wasn’t right with her. After she started eating, she said, “I’m sorry I got mad.” It turns out, on the ride something triggered a panic attack that reminded her of what was going on with her friend. Also, she was afraid she’d miss her flight. I think it was all of these things coming down on her at the same time. After she ate she said, “I don’t feel good.” And she looked like she was gonna barf. She stood up, grabbed my gloves that I had lent her and said, “Can I take these?” I said sure. We said bye and she left.
Cherry and I were worried about her. She was dealing with a lot. Or not dealing with it and it was happening to her in a way that she couldn’t yet handle.
She made her flight, and had four gin and tonics with two Klonopin. Later that night I texted her:
Later, I asked Michelle if she wanted to approve what I write about her. Her reply? “Nah. I’d rather be surprised.” I then said, “But you do remember agreeing to me writing about our torrid affair, right?”
“I was under the impression that your blog was non fiction.”
I don’t even know how to wrap up my time with the bikers. I don’t really want to. So, in Michelle style, I won’t.
Cuz and I went camping in Cahava Springs which is located Northwest of Cave Creek.
This is where they own property they will soon develop. Peter had always wanted to camp there, so off we went. We traversed treacherous terrain to get there. Peter and Annie have a special car for the express purpose of visiting the property. It’s that tretch.
Side story I never mentioned about my time in Tucson in the dusty parking lot with Aurora: I accidentally left my car unlocked one morning and the next day, when I went to change my clothes all of my clean t-shirts and underwears were gone. As well as my lotion. I was like, well at least the thief had enough decency to not steal my computer and audio gear.
When I got back to Peter and Annie’s after that trip, I was like, “Dudes. Someone stole my this, this, and this.” Annie then said, “Oh, those are all in the laundry room.”
So, Peter and I were on our way to camp. We stopped at a gas station for firewood and I went to get my wallet out of my pack. Which was nowhere in the car. What was in my pack? All of my clothes - warm clothes - and toiletries. Peter then texted Annie this:
We found a lovely, flat area to set up camp with time enough to climb up a peak to see the view and the sunset. Moze ended up getting several cacti bits stuck in his paws, at which point Peter carried him. [Peter is one of the most tender hearted men I’ve ever met.] He even offered to carry him the rest of the way up so that we could all see the view, but Moze was super uncomfortable so I declined.
After we got back to our camp, the sun was close to setting so I began to set up the fire. I realized that I had lost my lighter, and since we had Pete’s car and not mine, there were no matches. I did, however, have my trusty knife with the flint attached to it. I wasn’t worried. I knew we could get it to work. Peter, however, was this:
“You don’t have a lighter? Are you fucking kidding me?! Should I go drive back to town and buy one? Fuck! You’ve never actually started a fire with flint before?! Jesus.”
Cuz had hisself a titch of a tantrum.
“It’s fine.” I said, “People start fires like this ALL the time. I’m not worried.”
But I was.
I did my best to act calm while frantically flinting away at a dry piece of desert wood. I actually considered praying to Jesus, but I figured he was busy dealing with Syria, poverty, ISIS and climate change. Just kidding. I knew he was busy finding Christians good parking spots and killer deals on patio furniture.
While Peter was pacing around and swearing, I got the wood to start smoking. Then my hand got fatigued, so I handed the job off to him. Thank god I took some terlet paper from the Motel 6 when I was there. I figured the thin wrapper on the outside would be the easiest thing to catch on fire.
Success. Praise His name. On high.
This was one of the best nights I’ve ever had with Peter. And we’ve had a lot of fun and great conversations since we’ve become real friends about 10 years ago. But, this was the first time we’d ever really hung out alone. We made hotdogs for dinner and then had S’mores with Reese’s PB cups instead of Hershey’s. Listen up, nation: This is a real game changer. However, my friend, Shannon, just one-upped me on this:
“I’ll raise your Reese’s with SALTED roasted marshmallows. The outside skin gets perfectly crispy.”
*** I did this weeks later while camping in Washington. I texted Shannon for specifics on how to make them. She wrote this:
To make the Murphymallows: Light a fire. Roast, toast, or burn the shit out of a marshmallow over the fire. Eat off the burnt skin of the marshmallow. Sprinkle the soft insides with salt. Toast again until golden brown. Eat with abandon. Repeat. ***
Back to cousin camping. After dinner, Peter played his guitar, and I recorded a little of that as well as stories of his world travels. The stars were bright and the coyotes were howling:
That night, while we were sleeping, there were two Great Horned Owls on both sides of the tent that hooted until the sun rose.
I woke up right before the sun did. Moze and I got up, watched the sun rise and I poked at the warm coals until another fire started. Peter got up shortly after, and we sat by the fire while he played a lovely playlist, mostly Alexi Murdoch. I made campfire espresso and he made blueberry pancakes. Everything tastes so good when you’re camping.
I left AZ to head to San Diego to meet my friends Barb and Mark.
I was so glad to be out of the desert. I’d felt like a slug who’d been sprinkled with salt and was beginning to shrivel. However, I’m way less of a heat baby in AZ. In Minnesota when it’s 75 I’m sweating my balls off, but in AZ it can be 85 and I never let ‘em see me sweat. Made me feel like a lady.
It took me two days to get there. Before I left, Peter made me five CD’s for my drive. I fell in love with this song, and played it over and over. I mean, sometimes for like 2 hours straight. From AZ to SF, I probably gave it most of my drive time:
When I got to San Diego, it started to rain. This excited me. I was driving through these crazy mountains and I kept replaying The Song. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was some meaning behind the sweeping chorus of “Welcome home.” I guess we’ll find out when I eventually live somewhere.
It just so happened that three of my other friends from Minneapolis were there too. So, we all met at their hotel for drinks. Jny and I were the last ones standing. And by that I mean rolling around by the pool taking selfies.
Back at Barb and Mark’s, Mark had just whipped up a delicious dinner of chicken with capers and freshly picked kale from his garden.
Their 4 year old son, Nixon, is the coolest little dude. I used to be scared of him on accounta he used to be a baby. He and I used to just stare at each other and I’d be like dude, I don’t know what to do with you right now. This doesn’t feel good. Anyway, now this kid is rad. He’s got a skater haircut and loves Star Wars. He’s very curious and chatty and when he talks to me he actually says my name.
This is one of my fave things he said. [Moze doesn’t love little kids. They scare him. Nixon wanted to interact with Moze, be he would just slink away.]
Nixon: Bekah, do you love your dog?
Me: Yeah, totally!
Nixon: Cause I wanna love him too.
I woke up with a super jacked back and decided to head to San Francisco. I wouldn’t have enjoyed exploring a new city that day and my friend, Kara, is a massage therapist. When Nixon found out I’d left early, he cried and said, “But I didn’t get to show her all of my toys!”
So. Cute. Love that kid. I’m super glad I’m not scairt of him anymore.
I thought I’d be kind of over SF and the scene there but bwa, was I wrong. I could live there.
You might remember one of my fave friends, Kara, and my new homie, Betsy, from previous posts. They live in a co-op with three other people. I was instant friends with all of them. Like real, deep connections. They’re all super fun, funny, West Coast woo, real, spiritual, kind, generous and all the things.
Moze loves SF too. Dogs are welcome almost everywhere there. In fact, at Kara’s work, a dog regularly comes in, goes behind the counter and sits to wait for a treat.
Moze also made a girlfriend at a bar called Dovre Club. The bartender, Steph, brings her two pitbulls to work with her. Moze loved the girl dog, Billie Jean. The two of them just paled around the bar together and made friends with people and other dogs.
San Francisco people are hugely friendly. It feels like everyone talks to everyone. I met so many people and made some new friends.
There is so much to say here. I’m not even sure how to narrow down my 5 days there, hence, the two-parter on SF. Betsy and Kara took me to a woo church called Celebrate Life. On the drive there, it was a lovely sunny Sunday morning. Betsy drove us in her pick-up [And, she’s straight.] I was hyper and taught them Moze’s theme song:
Betsy was all, Oh, like the Beastie Boys song?
What, WHAT?! [In the butt.]
I didn’t even know that Moze’s theme song was already another, actual song. I’m still deciding whether or not I want to take legal action against the Beastie Boys.
We drove to church and listened to Skills to Pay the Bills. I was the happiest.
We got to church and right as we parked I became anxious. Church. *shivers*
Here are the Cliffs Notes on my religious past: I grew up Born Again, and I believed in most of it until I was in my early 20’s. You know the televangelists who speak in tongues and lay hands on people to heal them? Those people then fall down on stage and then walk back to their seats carrying their crutches above their heads. That was my church. Benny Hinn - one of the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s infamous pastors - claimed that during some of his Miracle Crusades, people were healed of AIDS. He also said that God would wipe out all of the homosexuals.
Back to the SF woo church. When we arrived, meditation was in progress, so we had to wait outside. I asked Betsy what was gonna go down once we got inside. She told me that after the meditation, “you can go forward if you want a healing.”
Those were some trigger words. I immediately stood up and said, “I’m gonna walk around the block.”
I found this perfect little path with flowers, plants and a bench so I sat down and just experienced my anxiety and let it go. I went back to Kara and Betsy and sat down on the bench next to Kara. She kind of pulled me into her while Betsy reached behind and rubbed my back for a second and said, “You’re OK, girl.” Meaning, “We got you.”
So, we went in.
The guy who led the service that day looked like your high school science teacher. He was probably in his 60’s and wore slacks, and a button down shirt with a tie. Turns out, he was a scientist and is writing a book. [Sadly,none of us remember his name!] I’m paraphrasing here but his “sermon” was about how science and spirituality compliment each other and help to prove each other. This is the guy I needed to talk that day. I like the combination of evidence and faith: Where intellect, metaphysics, belief and experience overlap.
Before I arrived in SF, I looked up an old friend I hadn’t talked to in like 15 years. Her name is Kenny — or Kennydra [Kendra.] Moze and I met her for drinks at a lesbian bar in the Mission. It was SO lovely hanging out with her and felt like no time had passed. She reminded me of something that had happened in 2000:
Oh man I barely got started on S to the F. OK, so I’ll talk about this one night that we all ended up at a drag show. All of the performers — while on stage — lit a joint and passed it around to the crowd. Reason number 482 why I love San Francisco. [And marijuana isn’t legal there yet.]
Slide show of the drag show:
Maggie and I connected over text a couple of months before we actually met. She grew up very Christian as well, and is also pursuing audio storytelling. So, Kara had hooked us up via text. The day I met Maggie, she emerged from her room in the morning with full, slept on 80’s make up on, and she was hungover. She said, “I normally don’t look like this, I was at a Robert Smith party last night.” I was like, I can kick it with this girl.
* If you read the previous post, Maggie is the one who was boning the neighbor and this happened:
A day or two later, Maggie and I had a coffee date before she had to go to work. We walked about a half an hour to a coffee shop and sat outside talking about all of our ideas and our past. Here’s what was cute: on the walk there — our first time hanging out — she asked me which side of the street I preferred to walk on: the shady side or the sunny side. Ten. Der.
One afternoon, when everyone else was at work, Maggie offered to take me to the beach. She, Moze and I hopped in my car and she gave me a tour of the city on the way there.
My first dog, Sal, used to bite everything that moved. No joke. That little rubber strip in your back windows in your car? Every time I rolled the window down, she bit it. Down to the metal. It was rusty. And my seatbelt was so chewed up that I kept a lighter and a pair of scissors in my glove box so that I could contain the frayed edges. I could go on and on about all of the things she bit in her 11 years and how she made me laugh every single day. Some days, she was the only thing that gave me joy.
She loved water, although she, like me, was a terrible swimmer. We both took swimming lessons from a rock. As soon as we reached any sort of water, a pond, a lake, a river, a puddle, she b-lined it. But her favorite was chasing and biting the waves that came in. She would run u