25. A Chance Encounter Becomes …

HAVE YOUR EVER HAD A CHANCE ENCOUNTER THAT BECAME MORE?  

BLOG 25: October, 1997—I’m sitting on my bed in the living room of my home in the hills of Oakland, California . I’m not alone. A friend, who is a professional massage therapist, is on my bed as well, giving a massage to Archie, the man I met on the plane ride months ago—the one who inspired me to begin writing what today has become my novel, Child of Duende.

Other friends join me on my bed, or on the couch, or sit nearby. I’m shaking my torso to music blasting “Oops Upside the Head” inside a sequin top I managed to find at a second hand store during my few jaunts outside the house (yes, I’m able to walk, but not far without massive pain). You’d think it were a typical California affair (in December, I end up going to a New Year’s Eve Party where everyone—I mean, everyone—is naked, massaging each other and much more), but it’s actually my birthday. I’ve invited everyone and anyone I know to celebrate my late 20s, and since I’m living out of my bed in the living room, it seems an ideal place to celebrate!

You may wonder how Archie—a man I merely met on a plane—arrived at my birthday party. It’s simple, though. He had given me his card before we parted ways, and I sent an invitation to his Los Angeles address. He thought, what the hell, let’s live it up—as did I—and he arrived with a friend to find himself in my living room receiving massages and having a good time.

The day after my extraordinary birthday celebration, Archie and I meet up to discover if there’s any romance in the cards for us. We talk, on my bed, of course, but nothing goes further than that. He talks baseball and I’m more interested in some deep philosophical, soulful, and romantic encounter. He suggests I drive south with him to Los Angeles and let the wind determine where we go, but I decline. This body of mine can’t handle a trip right now. But we’re both glad that we took a moment out of ordinary time and rational behavior to celebrate life.

HAVE YOUR EVER HAD A CHANCE ENCOUNTER THAT BECAME MORE?  

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14. I Promise to Return

DID YOU EVER LEAVE A PLACE PROMISING TO RETURN?

Blog 14: November 13-19, 1996—I made a promise to these wide-open lands of New Mexico that I would return to them if I took off to California for a short visit. After all, I didn’t want to get into another car accident as I had done when I had tried to leave this state during my first weeks in Albuquerque.

So, with caution, I bid my new Santa Fe home a temporary farewell, and flew out to Los Angeles. My plan was to visit the City of Angels and then to travel up to San Francisco, my planned destination home prior to staying for an extended time in New Mexico on my cross country trip from the East Coast in September. I needed to find out what was there in California, and get it out of my system, if nothing else.

Los Angeles felt like one big haze, all cars moving through fog, through pollution mixing with the sea air along multiple highways. While it looked nothing like New York City, it felt like the Big Apple I had lived in for a year. Where was everyone going? I visited a friend from high school, but there was no ground for me there. Nothing tangible to connect me to the land.

In San Francisco, I saw Jane and Geri, my two friends who had been partners in crime on our cross country trip. They were settling into life in the Bay Area as they had planned, but they understood my call to spend time in New Mexico. I looked at schools, at programs, at jobs, but didn’t settle on anything. With potential job offers, and a possible home to live in with a woman moving into the Oakland hills in several months, I had options.

I would be back to California, I figured, but only after spending the winter in Santa Fe under snow-filled skies and slow-moving days and nights that would give me a chance to be still in a way I had long desired.

DID YOU EVER LEAVE A PLACE PROMISING TO RETURN?