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Misun

Hey! Hi! Damn - sorry about that. I want to pick-up where we left off with a long weekend that deployed the reset button.  

In quasi tradition, Jacob and I sprint out of the city for a backpacking trip after the Valentine's vortex subsides. 2015 was overnight kayaking on Tomales Bay, 2016 was a 20-mile hike-in to Ventana hot springs; with a few tangents.

We got a motherf*ckin van, y'all! Thank you thank you thank you for everyone who ever supported the Big Dreams campaign; you made our down payment dreams come true. Jacob found the bus in Portland and flew up to buy it sight un-seen. This is like a trust fall excercise with my business credit card. After a hostel slumber party, and an involvement at a drag show, (this is not my story to tell, unsurprisingly involves admiration for his hair), the bus carried him back to Oakland. We got another tank of gas, threw the futon in the back and headed to Big Sur.

For years, in our time spent up and down the 1, Jacob has pounded the steering wheel of the compact car with, "If we just had van, we could pull over and camp wherever we'd want!" Well, check that off the bucket list. After watching the sun fizzle out with a bottle of wine and a bag of chips from the most ideal cliffside money could never buy, we wanted to sleep for a few hours before a Night Soak at Esalen. A full moon coming up from the behind the cliffs, we passed a joint and settled in. 

This isn't true, Jacob settled in. I got it into my head that I wanted to honor the moon and this awesome journey, cranking the tiny camp speaker and dancing wildly by the highway until I was a sweaty mess, throwing myself to hide behind the van when a car came. Fairly certain I sprained my ankle on the first 8-count, and convincing myself that it would heal in the baths later on.

At 12:30pm we stumbled a half-mile to Esalen and I had one of the trippiest experiences of my ENTIRE LIFE, which had a lot to do with being naked with 23 strangers. This, paired with the miasmic heat of the spring-fed pools, the Pacific crashing underneath and hemetic light of the moon turning every surface to metal. Hard to articulate, and when we woke up we weren't entirely convinced we didn't dream the whole thing. 

We loaded two-days of bourgie existence into our packs, and headed into the forest.


Aquilegia formosa,  Western red columbine. Reminiscent of eagle talons and tiny spacecraft.

Aquilegia formosa, Western red columbine. Reminiscent of eagle talons and tiny spacecraft.

Clematis ligusticifolia,  Western White Clematis. The peppery leaves and stems were chewed by Native Americans to soothe sore throats and colds.

Clematis ligusticifolia, Western White Clematis. The peppery leaves and stems were chewed by Native Americans to soothe sore throats and colds.

Trillium ovatum,  Pacific wake-robin. Woodland perennials are a new obsession, and remind me of my parent's property which hosts an incredible population of Moccasin Flower ( Cypripedium acaule).

Trillium ovatum, Pacific wake-robin. Woodland perennials are a new obsession, and remind me of my parent's property which hosts an incredible population of Moccasin Flower (Cypripedium acaule).


We walked through damp, shadowed redwoods, up shambling cliffs, through arid, sun-baked passes and through icy-cold creekbeds. We talked about our family, spooked at poison oak, crammed raw seeds into our mouths. Our minds shut-up, and there was a creeping wish we were staying out here longer than we'd planned. As we walked in, dozens of people were packing out. Every person we made room for to pass, we'd hiss and chant to each other "get em out, leave leave, all to ourselves!"

At the end, we were one of 4 other sites - each far enough from the other to feel alone. Of the three pools, we stayed in one that positioned us nearly in the treetops, melting into the sulphuric 100degree water until the sun had long dissolved to moonlight again.

We met a woman from Sacramento who had hiked in with her Standard Poodle - a deer-like white q-tip that folded her legs resignedly beside the pool we inhabited. For a short while we were joined by a boy my age who was on hour 63 of quitting a 25 yr old smoking habit. He had hiked out to leave that old identity behind, and had no qualms saying he was trying to not look back, but knowing he would probably fail. I don't know either of their names.

When we clambored down, we forged a stream 40degrees colder than what we'd left. Dressed in every layer we packed, we ate ramen cups and slept by the stream - turning over every hour in the small tent. At 6am, we got back in the pools. No sound besides the push of the water and small animals breaking their fasts. 

Ha Ha Tonka

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The muted, sepia topography below my portico is assumedly Tulsa, Oklahoma. I appreciate that prior to takeoff, the pilot listed key cities he’d take us over. Nostalgic names of towns I may never see - Liberal, Kansas, Lovelock, Nevada. I wonder if the good citizens of Liberal are as far to the right as the statistics tally, or are as mortified as I that a self-winder has the world stage. (disclaimer: my first draft was a windbag of political ranting that you're spared from. I'm on month-two of being in business, and our ties are loose. Plus I know you have NPR, wherever you are.)

Anyway. I’m not writing about Liberal, Kansas. I'm writing about Virginia, from which I’m hurtling back towards San Francisco and whatever the hell I play at over there.

I love the East and the lite smattering of southern that VA gracefully clings to. I love the redbrick buildings that are careless to earthquakes’ sway. Notched pine floors under dusty crystal chandeliers. Double porches, cobbled streets, how everyone raises an acknowledging hand to me from their car when I’m running, because who wouldn’t acknowledge the one and only person that’s doing that sort of thing by a Civil War trench? I love listening to crows caw over mown soybeans, and the cracked oil paintings of long-dead soldiers. Rebels or Yanks; no different in posthumous solemnity. 

I love being called “honey” by both sweet ladies with powdered cheeks AND gin-nosed booming gentlemen. I love nosing around the six-acres my father maintains like a Canadian National Forest, sprawling in deep beds of fallen pine needles piled by his enthusiastic collection of concrete animals, (different post. Loose ties, loose ties).

But Virginia does weird things to me, too. Every time I go back I believe surely THIS time I’ll feel righteous enough in my choices to shrug off withering opinions from the Distant and Dated. This time I’ll be able to stuff down the creep of uncertainty with becoming someone else 2,000+ miles away. This time I won’t feel like an ass because I can’t spend enough time with every one I’ve ever loved to reaffirm I still love them. This time I won’t get frustrated with my father’s regimented schedule, my mother’s slide of time, my brother’s diatribes.

Now are you wishing I had stuck with my original plan of disaffected political discourse?

So yeah, Virginia makes me feel like a native and an alien all at once. It makes me feel a LOT, something my New Age-y self-help books croon is essential to finding my Inner Truth/Magmic Core/Kundalini/”HELLO” nametag sticker. All this feeling usually results in mild self-medication and demanded validation from a choice few. You know who you are, thanks for stroking my ego. 

There have been times this "processing" works in my favor; more often I end up over Tulsa, Oklahoma too soon with too many questions and loose ties.