Loose ends

July 13, 2010

I feel like I should end with a magnum opus, but I’ll keep it simple.

On the way out of San Francisco, I happened by the SF pride parade and stopped for a little while to take it in. The joy, the absolute joy in their faces, in the day, oh it was a blessing. The feeling was radiant, and the entire tone of the city shifted. I love a good parade. There were cowboys too, just like New Mexico.

Squish!

I had thought about going home, having already been accepted to the sustainable agriculture program, and with a good lead on an amazing place to live. I was anxious and nervous, eager to see what would happen next. I decided to mull it over while crossing the Golden Gate.

When I hop on my bicycle to leave for a new place, something happens, I become someone different, and the little pretenses and grievances I carry around with me in the city become like the land around me: permanent, but traversable. Miles translate into days, and days become meaningless measurements. The only absolutes are the sunrise and the sunset, and each day is as fresh as the last. I expect to be hungry at noon, and to slow my pace at four. When the sky starts turning yellow, I will look for a place to sleep. These feelings came back to me when I was in the hills on the other side of the bridge, I just kept going, not yet confident enough to stop.

I rode for six more days, through the sleepy hills of Northern California.

I met a man in Fairfax, where I stopped for the first night, sitting in the park with his dog. I never learned his name and it probably doesn’t matter.

I talked with him at length, and learned a great deal. He had a pure wisdom, a forgotten wisdom, and a dangerous wisdom. He was astute, broadly conscious and yet detatched. His dog rides on the front of his bike.

I slept on a golden hillside that night, no tent, under a clear speckled sky. It was that night I felt a new peace, something that I had come across in San Francisco but I had only become aware of that night. The feeling has yet to leave.

I’m looking at the pictures I took of my ride up the northern coast, and feeling a great weight in them. The ride was incredible, and to keep it true to life, I’ll say only a few words. This was a quiet ride, and very personal.

I slept here:

And then the redwood forests.

I had stopped using my tent completely. I slept here:

On this bed of clover:

Behind this tree:

In this grove:

The next day began with a 30 mile ride down the “avenue of the giants.”

This was the most sublime part of my entire ride. It was more than just a visual sense of beauty; being in the redwoods penetrated my whole being. I became part of their world for a time, slow, clear, and cool.

I reached Eureka, passed on to Arcata, and rode 20 miles north to Trinidad. I had a distinct feeling that was as far as I would go.

I spent the night in Eureka, and found a ride south to San Francisco the next morning. I spent the evening back in the Mission, this time with a friend-of-a-friend turned friend, Emily.

It was a mad scramble to get my bike taken apart and put into a box for shipping, but it all came together. I flew over the country as the sun was setting, on July 4th, and could see little flashes of fireworks all the way across. It took six hours.

Looking at my pictures now I have an awful feeling, of nostalgia and regret: regret for not still being “there.” All things must come to a close. Nothing seems right here, right now at least, but we’ll see what happens…

I have been in Raleigh/Pittsboro for over a week digesting my new/old world and surveying why I am here and what I ought be doing. And the story goes.

I have been working on a house just outside of Pittsboro, that I (and eventually other people) am sprucing up to turn into an “art collective” situation. I have big ideas and high hopes, and a bit of work ahead. There is a garden in the bathroom, a geodesic dome and a squirrel named Squeek who just loves to jump on my shoulders. Oh, and there will be bees.

School starts late-August, and although I have a few hesitations, it looks like it is going to be a ride in itself. A large portion of the teaching is done outside on the land-lab and on neighboring farms in the Pittsboro area. The sustainable agriculture program grows crops for the biofuels program, who in turn fuels our tractor. Other crops are sold to a 30-family CSA and the money is used to pay students to tend to the farm during the summer. The school in itself is a little sustainable system. Sounds promising. Also, the city of Pittsboro, where the school is located, also has its own currency. Radical. Check it out. All of that John Steinbeck and Wendell Berry I read on this trip, I guess it makes sense that I ended up here.

Thank you, everyone. All of you that I met on the road, the things I have learned and the hospitality and humanity that you have shown me has affected me deeply, and I sincerely thank you for it. I hope that one day I will see all of you again, and you are constantly in my thoughts. I feel like a lot of relationships were left so open-ended;  I hope they will not end. Also, to everyone who has shown support from far away, your encouragement has been a huge part of my success. Please send me a letter, a postcard, or drop by. I will feed you, house you, change your tires/spokes/handlebar tape, or whatever it is that you need. My new address is 135 Mantis, Pittsboro, NC 27312, at least for the time being.

I will continue to update this blog with news on the house and art collective project, as well as with other travels and experiences, and any new developments in the systematic dismantling of the ego.

But for now, good night.

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