17. California, Here I Come!


BLOG 17: June, 1997—I look up, from my car, at this beautiful house towering over me in the hills of Oakland, California. I’ve just completed 16 hours of driving, with a night’s sleep in between, and before me are three tall sets of stairs to merely enter the house. Once inside, I discover another two full sets of stairs to get to my new bedroom. It is beautiful, all of it—a house with glass windows that look out at the entire Bay Area—but my legs are extremely tired, and I have yet to carry a car-load of things up these steps.

Paula, my new housemate, helps me move in. It takes some maneuvering around her dog, a boxer that drools excessively and is fixated on licking Paula’s nylons. When the dog does this, her tongue sounds like a nail file, and I cringe.

By the time I’ve moved everything into the house, my calves feel like washboards, hard and unforgiving. I push through what I need to and then enjoy the view of my new house in the hills of Oakland. It’s a good life, if my body can handle it.

My new job with a temporary artist agency begins soon, and can’t wait to go into San Francisco to begin dancing at top-notch modern dance studios. I trust my body will relax in a few days from my long drive and I’ll be ready to begin my next life phase on the West Coast.

In the meantime, I look out these big windows that open out to the bay, and the hills in the distance, as the sun sets over this place that feels the most foreign and new I’ve ever experienced. I’m finally following through on my original plan to live in the San Francisco area, and now—after an eight-month spontaneous hiatus in New Mexico, and a groin-pull injury—I’m here. This place seems more like an Asian paradise of some past life (if at all, and if there is such a thing), but it has nothing to do with my current journey. It’s a new beginning, tied to nothing I’ve ever lived.


10. Dreaming the Earth


Blog 10: October 8-10, 1996—I dream another native dream. Men dance in a Native American ceremony and pray for the spirit of my friend’s brother on the East Coast. I feel sad as I watch. I sense I am holding onto something. I have an attachment to my friend and a dance we shared and performed together before I came here. We both carried a determination that was running us, and I feel my dream is asking me to let go of this determination that pushes me.

My body still carries this energy as I wake up. It subtly reminds me of last week’s injury when I pulled a groin muscle as I stretched in Judith’s house—my temporary home during my past month in New Mexico when I stopped here on my way to the West Coast. My dream also provides clarity. As I look outside, I feel all the negativity of the world quickly becoming minimalized by this garden of earth I am living on in this desert city. The land is not just land. It is home, family, hope.  All over the world, we destroy the land, and yet here I walk outside and I can still see the stars, and the trees break the whisper of the wind, and I feel an awe to witness the power of the earth. She is a gift, and all should be done in her name.

Despite these moments of awareness and awe, though, there are days out here where I return to a space of sadness. For all that I have been handed by this universe, and especially lately, I feel my impatience and how I have, in ways, not appreciated what I have been given. I dance as much as I can to feel contented, and I tire my injured groin in a longing to feel my own aliveness. I am a caged bird that doesn’t get the gifts that have shown up to make possible my flight. Instead, I run in fear of these spirit and human helpers temporarily clipping my wings. I fear getting stuck in complacency, in a sweet satisfaction of living what I don’t feel is mine.