Trip Start Dec 28, 2004
270Trip End Ongoing
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The police presence in the park was becoming downright oppressive, signaling that it was time to saddle up and get the fuck out of town. We left the bustle of the city and drove up into the mountains and redwood forest, cruising through the night with an expanded consciousness and a full tank of gas. I lay sprawled in the back seat, looking out the window and watching as the stars tracked across the cool mountain sky. I was in a near catatonic state, contemplating the pinpoints of white light as they twinkled in and out of the tree line. They would disappear for minutes on end and then suddenly would reappear in a flash of glittering light. It was my ambition that night to keep track of the stars as they traversed through the night and as we paralleled them with our climb through the mountains. All else was forgotten. My lack of a home or a job, the impending prison term and the untimely death were all washed from my mind in that moment of peace. My one and only concern was trying to keep my herd of stars on course and accounted for. What was going through Jeff's and Ivan's minds I cannot say. The only conversation in the car that night came from the speakers of the stereo. 'Maybe they're helping me herd.' I thought. But a glance at Ivan showed his interest in the passing trees; and who knows; maybe that was his herd for the night.
We arrived in Santa Cruz late in the night, long after the town had been deserted for the comforts of living rooms and beds. Store fronts were dark and parking lots barren. As we drove down the desolate streets, our only companion was the blinking yellow of the mindless traffic lights that had been switched over for the night. Those lights are such a lonely feature of almost every smallish town and city in America. They always represented emptiness and solitude to me, and that night was no different as I eyed them through the fogged over backseat windows.
Our decision making was still not even close to being reasonable as we slowly drove in and out of the town, looking for a place to relax and rest our souls. It wasn't long before we finally stumbled across a narrow road with single level homes on one side and rugged cliffs that descended into the ocean on the other. Deciding that this was as good as it was going to get, we parked in a scenic turnoff and got out.
To say that the Pacific Ocean is big is being overly obvious. But to see the utter blackness stretching out into eternity was something that my mind had a hard time grasping in its current state.
"Jesus fucking Christ. We found oblivion. This is the end of everything." I sputtered in awe.
"It's just the fucking ocean man, chill out." Ivan called over to me through the night.
It's strange how different two minds can think when given the same visual stimulation. He saw the obvious and I sensed and saw the mystical. Who was right? Would you have agreed with my friend Ivan? Who knows? For me, on that night, I don't think that I could be convinced that the only thing that I faced was an extremely large body of water. The way I saw the matter was that this was where your dreams go when you wake in the night with tears on your pillow and terror racing through your mind. To oblivion. To the darkness that encircles us throughout our lives but which we are never allowed to see. Until now. Sitting on a cliff with my back to suburbia, I finally saw the visual representation of the darkness and was able to embrace it and deal with it on a spiritual level that I kept well hidden from the world at large.
I tried my best to convey the wonder that I felt in this moment of discovery, but my compatriots just shrugged it off as more delusional mumblings from someone who was no longer in touch with reality. Which, to be truthful, was at least partially correct. I had indeed parted company with reality a few hours back and was now on a blind date with my subconscious. It's good to step out every once in awhile and date other people or personalities in this case.
My friend's lack of comprehension forced me to consider whether I had aligned myself with people who could not at least think clearly and openly without being confined by the restrictive walls of absolute reality. What good is a sense of the real if you can't observe it, consider it and when given the proper tools and environment, tell it to go get fucked?
It was the discovery of a group of tide pools that had the power to pull me out of the funk that I had crawled into. The pools were magical natural pot holes that had formed in the rock over the millennia and now held water during low tide. Entire families of crabs lived side by side with star fish, various muscles and other creepy crawly shit that seemed straight out of science fiction. All three of us were on our hands and knees on the craggily, weather worn rock, peering into the shallow pools as the moon shown down on us. Occasionally, one of us would carefully withdraw a fine specimen of a creature from the cool dark water and discuss its various odd parts and comment on the wonderful assortment of life that Mother Nature had provided for us. More then one crab showed it's displeasure by trying to tear the flesh from our hands with their scissoring claws but we still poked and prodded for hours before exhausting our curiosity fully. I'm sure that the wildlife was happy to see us lose our interest and walk away, thankful to be left alone in their watery beds for whatever remained of the evening.
It was near dawn when I began to come down to a manageable level of toxicity, sitting off alone by myself with my feet lowered in the rolling water (oblivion), reviewing the distressful turns that my life had recently been subjected to. It was in this momentary despair that I contemplated entering oblivion myself. After all, the darkness can't hold many problems, or so I thought while trying to weigh my options. The only saving force that night was my desire to go pester the crabs some more before turning out the lights for good. The problem was that I had reached a state of lethargy never before seen, which kept me from accomplishing anything, including my own demise. And I believe that sums up my life in a nutshell; being too lazy to actually get off my ass and kill myself. Looking back I am obviously thankful for my lack of motivation that evening but I am still forced to ask the question, at what point do you take an active roll in your own life instead of just rolling with what comes easiest?
The rough stone was my chair as I watched the last of the moonlight play and dance across the surface of the darkened water. I was left completely mesmerized and at the same time satisfied by the crystal light that ran like liquid over the waves.
The time came when I was able to close my eyes without a light show being projected on my eyelids, meaning that I could finally sleep which was a godsend at that late hour. My mind was worn from all of the images and ideas that had marched ceaselessly through my head since the early afternoon back in the park.
Looking for some sort of comfort to ease my way into blessed unconsciousness, I made my bed on a spongy green plant that had covered the upper parts of the cliff with its thick, bubble like leaves. Wrapping myself in my sleeping bag I imagined a sort of nylon womb, safe from the dangers and insanity of the outside world. I had enough time to register the sound of sea lions barking out beyond the crashing waves before falling head long into a dreamless sleep.
We had not put much thought in our location for the evening. For some reason, people seem to frown upon the idea of dirty men sleeping in the parks in front of their homes. I had honestly forgotten the houses that stood behind us all night. With all of my interior discoveries, I had just blocked out the cookie cutter suburbia that acted as a silent sentinels to our actions.
There is nothing quite like a poke in the ribs with a billy club to wake you out of a pleasant nights sleep and remind you of your station in life.
"You can't sleep here. Get up guys."
Looking up, I saw that it was a cop. This was not much of a surprise considering the circumstances.
"Sorry about that officer. We didn't know where to sleep; we're not from around here." I said groggily while waving my hand vaguely in the direction of our car and it's out of state license plates. Praying that he would pay more attention to the fact that we were far from home then how dilated our pupils happened to be that morning.
"Just pack up and get going, okay?" He asked, actually coming across as a half decent guy which made me wonder how he got into law enforcement.
"Sure thing sir. Just give us a couple of minutes to grab our shit and we'll be out of here." I said after having regained my natural speaking voice via a violent conflict with a part of my brain which demanded more sleep and had been holding my tongue as a hostage until I complied with it's demands.
The cop, feeling satisified with his approach to the age old move along, not in my town speech, rode off on his mountain bike to do whatever it was beach police do that early in the morning. Having watched him pedal his way out of our lives, I pulled myself out of my coccon and was quickly faced with the unpleasant fact that everything that had not been in the bag with me was now drenched with sea spray. Druing the course of my dementia the night before, I hadn't realized that we were trapsing not through a salty fog but a fine mist produced by one part ocean and one part cliff, shaken well. There was nothing to do but wring out my clothes the best that I could while I stared off into the panarama below me.
Oblivion had been replaced with a field of deep blue that stretched off into the horizon. A gaggle of surfers had formed in the shockingly blue water, waiting to catch the first wave of the day. As they sat and waited for their swells to carry them away, pairs and trios of pelicans flew dangerously close to the water, searching for a fish or two to serve as the morning meal. They could have accomplished the act of catching breakfast from a higher altitude but they were trying to catch the thermals that rose off of the surface of the waves, thus keeping them in the air without the nasty inconvenience of flapping their wings.
It was a magnificant scene. Something that Norman Rockwell would have painted had he been from California and not New England. The three of us were all equally struck by the beauty as we packed what was left of our supplies back into the cramped car. The temptation to just sit down and watch the morning form and move it's way relentlessly towards afternoon was almost overwhelming. To be able to relax and watch the world from such a wonderful perch would be divine but that was not a feasible option on that particular morning.
I doubt that the police would have been able to rouse us off of the public land just as long as we were not literally camped out on it per se. We could have stayed as long as we wanted or at least until night fall, but we could see that it was time to move on.
The scene was still as breathtaking in it's grandeur but the neigborhood was beginning to awaken, with each house vomiting forth joggers and children at an alarming rate. These new characters in my long running play were not pleased to see us. Even the dogs that were being taken on their mandatory morning walk seemed to eye us with open contempt.
In the end, we didn't so much leave as flee the scene and the accusing glares that followed our every move. Were we threatening to these people in some way? Perhaps. People feel endangered for some truly pathetic reasons in this age that we find ourselves in. To be faced with a social class that is differant from theirs is reason enough to call the police and lock the door. Were we really that differant from these people? We had an obvious vagabond demeanor so I can almost sympathize with the feeling of fear. Hell, I wouldn't want a car load of suspicious characters camped out in front of where my kids sleep at night, but they should also not have the right to have the sole priviledge to the scenic turnoffs that had been placed every half mile in front of their homes. If they wanted seclusion from the general public, they should not have moved to where a public road sits between their front lawn and the ocean. Suspicious or not, we still had a right to be there just as much as they did.
Despite my heartfelt belief that we were once again in the right and were being pushed around by a group of people who didnt give a damn, we loaded ourselves into the car and began to sputter down the road, trying to break away from the looks of fear and hatred that followed our sluggish progress down the street
Lacking any real plan, we decided to go back to San Francisco for some sightseeing and then to make up our minds about the great mystery of what's next. Do we stay, go or what? Did we want to leave the coast that we had only recently discovered? Or would we choose to stay until the money ran out?