It’s a marvel that moving companies don’t apply a steep surcharge for inter-techtonic plate moves. I’d have exploited that angle in my prior sales life. Instead, a friend orchestrated a flawless move that was surcharge free, reasonably priced and made so comfortable with his presence. We left behind the North American Plate, truck packed to the ceiling and unloaded my life into a cottage that sits on a hill, on the eastern edge of the Pacific Plate.
Oh, the low hanging metaphors with that one.
Nobody needs to hear another moving story. Nothing broke, and most everything is still packed. But a little progress is made each day. Which is to be lauded given the highly social nature of life on Bolinas. I have gone from living behind a fence, seeing no one unless they knocked on my door to living at the end of a small lane, in a courtyard of what could pass as an arboretum, populated with 8 people I would have hand-selected to be neighbors.
While hauling in laundry I pause to discuss Japanese documentaries. While walking the dog I pause to discuss the potential for inner turmoil when hosting weddings while not believing in the institution of marriage. (The rolling lawn that leads south has cradled more than a few couples as they give it one hell of a go.) A boy runs to the door to call out the dudes to play. The sun sets and the coyotes come to the hill like Hounds of the Baskervilles, The Plural Edition, under a fat moon.
It was the fattest and fullest on the night of my birthday. The dudes and I threw caloric caution to the wind and indulged heartily at the Sand Dollar. My mom dutifully ordered up people that would stop by and compliment the boys on their manners and remark on our playful nature with each other. Of course, they didn’t see me on the way home when one of those little morsels screamed so loud my rock & roll ravaged right ear nearly bled. I think I said something like,
If you ever do that again I will take your bicycle and carve it up into tiny pieces with a jackhammer. Then I’ll make you eat them.
But I think it came out like,
If you ever want to see your bike again you’ll never hit that decibel in this vehicle while I am in it. Certainly not while I am driving around s-curves alongside a lagoon on a stretch of Highway 1 left dark by the still-rising moon.
With the dudes tucked into bed, I leashed up the dog (during the day she can run free without fear of a safari-like encounter) and walked out into still sea air. The waves rose to meet the moon, then crashed on the not-so-distant shores of Stinson, banked by a black hillside dotted with lights. On my previous visits to the cottage before moving in I didn’t hear the ocean. On this night I heard cars and trucks speeding at intervals along an interstate, but then the crack of water on water and the rush up the sand emerged from the white noise. It was arguable who beamed more, the moon or me.
I can hear the ocean.
A forest rings the lawn, it’s edge just on the other side of a paved running track that measures one-third of a mile. Tucked in amongst the trees are sculptures, some serving as benches from which to take in the views of the hills and shoreline, and a beautiful meditation garden. Hiding behind those are apparently a thousand coyotes.
Allow me to exaggerate to a degree that matches the startling nature of their screams.
For a girl who used to sprint a hundred feet under a spotlight to get from my car to my front door when I was young, I felt completely at ease strolling in the middle of a field with no idea what had me in its sights.
That is until an image emerged, 50 feet away. The moon was overhead, but the light fell in a distorted haze thinned by fog. The top of the silhouette was hip height. The perfect size for a dog sitting, its back straight, fully alert. That’s all I could make out. My eyes strained to see if it was moving closer. I looked to my faithful canine for a sign of concern, immediately interpreting her lack of care to actually be a state of shock. So, of course, I said,
I have a lot to learn.
My first lesson came the next day when I discovered the blood thirsty coyote was really just a former fire hydrant, now an exposed pipe that rises from the ground.
Perception is reality. And that night I thought for sure I was being welcomed by the leader of the pack.
Welcomed we have been. In some cases welcomed like any other new arrival with warm smiles and insider information. In others, welcomed like they’ve been waiting at the gate since we last left, looking for a glimpse of our car kicking up dust as we bump along the gravel drive.
In the span of a week I have met a ginger-haired girl that hails from near my hometown, set three play dates – one for me with a wetsuit clad surfer, had our dinner table crashed by one of my favorite locals who turned the evening into a party for the boys and me, and bonded with my landlords in high-speed fashion, landing in their shower by night two.
Not with them.
We didn’t have hot water or heat for the first week. The heat is no big deal. It’s temperate here, and the cottage is well-insulated. Not having hot water and having two boys who’ve just been set free on open land becomes a problem pretty quickly. Not only did we not have hot water, the cold water is offensively cold (otherwise known as well water) unless you’re drinking it.
They offered cleanliness. We accepted, running up to the back door, towels in hand.
It’s like living next door to your parents, and your parents are content, positive, centered, smart, funny, thoughtful, engaging, well-read, well-traveled and well-schooled in life. And she bakes pies.
They met 6 months after she divorced her husband. She had never believed in marriage, so to prove to herself exactly why, she married a man who had been divorced three times, which then became four.
She never married again. But has loved and lived with the same man for forty years. They broke up three times but, as she said, since they never had to get divorced they could find their way back to each other.
Divorce does have a knack for incinerating relationships.
This land is their North American labor of love – they have others in another land. Daily, they are dressed for site work, tending gardens, dropping off firewood, framing out an addition to our bathroom. The cottage and every other structure here was built by them. Over time they’ve constructed a tiny town within a tiny town.
I found a commune without all that wacky commune baggage that can keep you up at night.
Which wouldn’t have mattered those first few nights with the coyotes proving their connection to the moon. At 4AM one screamed so loud I rolled over and smacked its head. Then I realized it was outside. I peered out the small attic window that serves as my headboard in time to see a light sweep the lawn.
Aliens, too. My goodness this place is busy.
The next morning we gathered on the lane to swap stories of how we were ripped back from dream time, startled by a howl that must have come from a belly too big for a coyote. In the time it took to grab a flashlight from his office to illuminate the lawn the howler had moved on.
Ahhh, a flashlight. It was him. No aliens. Yet.
It’s only week one. I’m down with close encounters. I’d just like to be unpacked enough to properly entertain them.
In this one week I have come to believe that I will never leave Bolinas. Her beach town meets western outpost has swept me off my feet.
She makes me feel safe, despite being able to drive a golf ball into the San Andreas Fault from outside my door. No one is trying to fit in here. They’re far too in love with what makes them unique. Being vulnerable is natural, just ask one of the hundred surfers that bobbed off shore this past weekend. Being vulnerable is a state that is respected.
Like the 24 hour honor system farmer’s market. Glossy lettuces, stark white leeks capped in St. Patty’s Day green, and never-before-seen varieties of winter squash are tucked into baskets, set on risers along the side of the road. A metal box sits under a light. Next to it a scale hangs. A small calculator and pen lay on a notebook. The day’s purchases are tallied in the handwriting of many, each ending with a dollar amount that is undoubtedly placed into the metal box.
Vulnerable. And trusting. And 24-hour fresh as in picked that morning produce.
I am seriously not leaving.
It’s going to take some time to get into a rhythm and settle in as far as the day-to-day 3D life of being in a new town is concerned. But my spirit has shot roots deep, spread her arms wide and celebrated finally getting me here. To a place she knew I needed to be, surrounded by the people I need to be with at this time in my life.
I’ve never felt more joyful. But what is most exciting to me is the sense of freedom I feel. Free to create. Free to live my life without being told what to do or how to do it. Free to express my needs without apologies. Free to be open without fear. Free to choose how I respond to circumstances and events.
Like when I looked at my phone and saw a FB message from the husband of the Happy Dance Chick on my first night in the cottage. He thanked me for sending him a heads up on the affair back in November of 2011 and said we’re better off without them. He said we should talk sometime. In response, I agreed that we are most certainly living a better life now that we’re not being duped and that he may call whenever the time is right.
It’s the only time he contacted me, and I had not contacted him but for the one FB message sent to let him know about all the dancing going on behind his back.
Somehow, receiving an unsolicited message from him turned me into the Bolinas Devil Momma. I crossed the line. Spewing forth my anger. I could have let him go to move on but I chose to bring him pain. Bring him anger from my life and make him angry about it, too.
Okay, I know this is Bolinas and all, but it’s not an alternate universe, right? Different tectonic plate but the same definition of anger, right?
Call me coastal, but any anger or pain he feels is not because of me.
And last I checked, anger doesn’t live here anymore. Moved on right after forgiveness and long before universal love. I have too much to be grateful for to be angry in any legitimate way. And too much respect for the fleeting magic of life to spend time being angry about something that is unchangeable. Anger accomplishes a lot. None of it good.
I’m way more enticed by creating magic than brooding in anger.
This curve of land that hugs an estuary and leans into an an ocean has much in store for me and the dudes. The move is complete. And so is this shift. Bolinas has peeled me naked so that nothing gets between me and fully experiencing this most magical place.
It freeing to be naked.