Watching this three year old girl board a plane to Hawaii a couple weeks ago, I was brought back to a time I was that small on a plane. Helping the flight attendants serve drinks. Sporting those little plastic wings on my shoulder. Getting a tour of the cockpit during flight. Back when their doors were open. So much has changed. Not just in the world of aviation but in the world of that fearless little traveler with the pink backpack and long blond hair.
I’ve spent the first summer in six years not on the road. I realize that in writing this I’ve just returned from a week vacation in Hawaii and will be leaving for Black Rock City in a matter of hours, but this summer for the first time in a long time I’ve decided to forgo the itch to move, the need to dance and the love of festivities for something more. I’ve spent the last four months working almost every day on the novel I thought I’d completed a year ago. After letting it sit for eight months it was an entirely new game. It’s grown another hundred solid, fine-tuned pages and the more work I do on it, the more work I can see needs to be done.
I’ve fallen in love. Allowing myself to follow my heart into a kind of solitude to work has allowed a kind, loving and talented man to find his way into my life. Always when you least expect it, they say. I don’t know what the future will bring. I am tumbling down a steep path of transition this month but I trust that as the path unfolds out of the dark before me, I will continue to find light.
Next week will be my ninth consecutive year at Burning Man. I will burn the past and light the future once again. Burn the heartache and unworthiness. Burn the fear of success. Burn the loss of loved ones. Burn anything keeping me from evolving into my highest self. Great things are coming. Big colorful magical things. And now is the moment that we get to live inside of with love, gratitude, hope and inspiration. I have lived so many ways and so many places. I am utterly thrilled to see what more this life will bring.
Okay, I’ve been back for a whole week. It’s time to pull words from head and tell about Hawaii so I can sleep again. It was predictable in the paradise sense of things but also so much more than I had imagined. My hilarious and industrious travel partner, Jackie and I spent the first two weeks at a commune called Cinderland, before seeing the light and moving up the hill, literally and metaphorically to another ecovillage/commune setting I’m going to leave unnamed. Not to be selfish but I’d like to be able to return to the latter locale and find a bed open and waiting for me.
Day One at Cinderland we thought we struck gold. I’ll pull an excerpt from my journal to give a taste of life there:
“I am so in love with this place. Healing. Eating conscious food. Yoga in the morning. Picking avocados out of the foliage around our house. A medicine wheel on the front wall. A mandala as our doormat. Showering between the banana trees. Sewing up the holes in the mozzy net that covers our California king-sized bed. I haven’t been indoors in days. Playing dice by candlelight and learning old folk songs on the guitar. Looking forward to the Sunday drum circle at the nudie beach. A farmer’s market in Pahoa. An open mic night at the kava bar. Slowing the pace and the days feel more full than ever. Hunting for a blank wall to paint as part of my work trade. Hitchhiking between beautiful places. Multiple jaw-dropping whale sightings. Saying yes to what comes and letting go of everything else. Fear, stories, suffering. Releasing what I know about myself and seeing what’s left. Who I want to be. How open I can be. What happens when you say yes to life instead of forcing it down a certain path? The sound of drumming wafts to me from the nearest living space. The Zen Den. Or maybe Middle Earth. Four beds and a small kitchen. A bookshelf overflowing and endless murals adorning each open surface. Including the floors and the benches. Knee to shoulder-high walls enclose a small outdoor shower also covered in intricate paintings. We renamed our zone The Goddess Nest. A rainbow maze of art that is each wall-less building connects through the jungle by winding red gravel paths, lined in fruit trees and a lacy network of spiderwebs that dangles close overhead.”
The two words that sum this trip up for me are rhythm and flow. The hitchhiking adventures, sunbathing and grounding are punctuated by gatherings involving the pounding heartbeat of drums. The flow is what I keep falling into, pushing myself into, desperately trying to give into. It’s a beautiful experience to venture outside of your comfort zone. It is something that people should do much more often. I could feel that fiery Pele energy. The one that will call to you and pull you to the islands or will rage at you and kick you out until you’re ready to come back. There is an obvious escape aspect to this bippety boppity, off the grid, into the jungle lifestyle and there’s also a realm of deep healing. That looks different for each of us. Some can’t handle the trauma and stress of Babylon. Others need a quiet place to heal before returning. Some are literally hiding out from the law, or their family, or debt. Some are here to build and grow with the earth and each other.
I am breaking through barriers that I’ve built between myself and community. Working on patience and knowing when silence says more than words. Saying yes to this moment and having faith that it will lead me to the exact perfect next moment. Letting go of needing things. The baggage. Even this much stuff is way more than I need. Opening up to see how closed off I’ve been and wanting desperately to push beyond that. There are no accidents. Every step I take is in the exact right direction. I found myself unable to break away from the activated and inspiring people I was continually surrounded by in Hawaii to find the solitude to write. I could absolutely see a life there, but in this moment I am feeling pulled inward. To find space and quiet to officially finish a polished and complete draft of my novel and to get that out in the world is my only goal at present. I thank Pele and the Big Eye for giving me that clarity and I know I will be back just as I am always going back to everywhere. What a fun and rainbow ride.
What a fantastic weekend. (Or ten days) Telluride! Beautiful people, incredible music and absolutely stunning landscapes. Sitting once again beside an ice cold waterfall in Town Park, cleansed by it’s earthly delight. Elephant Revival blew it out of the park. Trampled by Turtles night-grass was a life changing experience. I am happy, refreshed and inspired. I am in love with people. It hit me again the other night just how completely bat-shit crazy my life is. I am a peripatetic vagabond and I fucking love that. What a world to explore. What a time to be alive. What an amazing journey to continue diving headlong into. I find bliss in living each day to perfection. I am so grateful to my muse, my wanderlust and my infinite supply of friends and family that support me on my path. I ride the wave that is the open road and thank the universe for divine serendipity in all I do. Thank you thank you thank you! Right place, right time, even when an hour late.
I am but a player on a stage and that knowledge has the power to set me free in this life. Life is a game, play hard. As the sun and the moon dance in turn across the sky, so I rise. As the dust eventually finds a place to lay, so I too may settle someday.
I am endlessly amazed by the people I find myself surrounded by. Going down in elevation from family oriented Telluride to wompy rager in the woods Electric Forest was a true eye-opener. Through the dark of the night and the less than human side of this festival party scene there is still a radiant light of consciousness shining through. Rainbow creatures dancing up a storm of dust. The bright and inspiring few who know how to pick up their own garbage. Exploration. The excitement and wonder of what you’ll find around the next bend. Music that can transform the way you view yourself and the world. I am forever grateful for the life I have created. I take full responsibility for its ups and downs. We are all-powerful. Let’s keep it good and make it gooder.
The Native American spirit is spilling out of every adobe doorway. Even the gravel on the sidewalk is calling to my ancient wolf mother psyche. The red clay earth and the woven afghans remind me of Kingsolver’s imagery and the homesick nostalgia therein. Home as the Earth. The source that we are so far removed from and so yearning to return to.
Stone walls and houses made with hands. Hands of your family. Hands of your neighbors. Villages, or Pueblos, pieced together, wall by wall. Room by room. To accommodate a community.
Once again I am overwhelmed by a hotspot of creative inspiration; an entire city, capital city no-less, totally devoted to making and sharing art.
Utterly inspired. Honestly I came to LA expecting superficiality, skinny jeans, indie rock and egocentric superiority complexes and somehow I found something beautiful. Maybe I’m high on vitamin D. Maybe I am uncharacteristically over-emotional at the moment. Or maybe this bring-me-to-tears feeling of absolute creative inspiration is a legitimate reality. Maybe So-Cal is actually onto something… at least in a few select locations.
I am constantly in awe of how often I find myself in the right place/right time. Tonight has been no exception. I’ve found myself a private guest to a private and very special gathering honoring a truly incredible musician and featuring a few of his equally talented peers. An acoustic set in a living room overlooking the entirety of downtown Los Angeles.
California makes me high. It holds a place in my past, before a loss of innocence, before a confusing and stressful adolescence, before I ever experienced an actual winter. A golden state. Sunshine daydream, beaches, bicycles and poolside barbeques. I get so giddy when the temp stops climbing at a sublime 70 degrees and the palm trees sway at each overpass. The promise land. California. Where dreams come true. California. If not for the traffic, earthquakes and droughts I’d surely still be a California girl.
Sometimes the long and weary road seems daunting and sometimes it looks you right in the face and says, “You are on the right path, journey on. Now is the time, the time is now.”
This place where the river runs North. Medellin. A sprawling city nestled between a few giant mountains. I’ve realized since arriving in Colombia that the streets are specific-product oriented. Looking for a new phone? Maracaibo es el calle para ti. There is one street of all hats, and the next is lined with lighting fixtures.
Today, wandering behind that church, the ornate black and white one, the one with all the big ole Botero statues, I found the street of dictations… Seven or eight old men sitting on crates behind old-school typewriters, eagerly waiting to take dictation, type out your c.v. or help you finalize that silly handwritten love note you haven’t had the heart to send as is. Supply and demand folks. Give the people what they need.
I took the metrocable up the mountain (to the North-East) today. As you get higher and higher the houses change from crumbling red brick to strapped together, recycled wood shacks. From rosy ceramic tile roofs to sheet metal. The paved roads become more intermingled with the red dirt ones. Laundry hangs from the line everywhere you look. Puppies rumble in the streets. A young boy asks me for money so I give him the soda in my hand. It’s all I have to give at the moment kid but it’s yours if it’ll make you happy.
Large black carrion birds scrounge uptown, or down river, from the city. A newborn on the train who’s ears are already pierced. I cherish these moments of introspection laid upon me by this (ever-shrinking) language gap. Once in a while it’s the less you understand, yet the more you take in.
What a beautiful place. I got in last night, calm as a kitten, despite my embarrassingly pitiful rendition of the spanish language. Arrived at the Cranky Croc, a hostel in La Candelaria. A funky little establishment with a quaint cafe, communal kitchen and mossy courtyard inside. Wandering around the city today I found myself coming to street corners and choosing my direction by looking for the next patch of trees or a photo-worthy piece of graffiti. Bought a compass for a dollar and a chocolate croissant for fifty cents. Looming over the city is a lush mountainside mostly shrouded in clouds. Wild flowers grow on the rooftops and besides all the road construction, the run-down, paint-peeling architecture invokes an exotic sort of nostalgia. Once again I find myself, a stranger in an unknown land, the scent of adventure at every turn.
I slide into the river, pushing off the stone-wall behind me because the rock bottom is jagged and I can see it’s not far away. I’m trying to hold my beer above water and my shoes are strapped around my wrists so I wont lose them. I look back to see if anyone else is moving on to bar two. Above me Bobby the Brit is swinging 25 feet over the water and on the third swing he drops in. The crowd sitting at bar one applauds his dismount and two guys from Q bar with scorecards give him an “8” and a “show off”. I spin back around and as I’m floating I try to keep my entire body as close to the surface as possible so I’m not just another asshole with bandages all over me in town tonight. I’ve passed the halfway point. Now Eric from bar three, Mojito Bar, is throwing an empty plastic bottle at my head. I duck and grab the rope attached to it so he can pull me in. I’m sipping on my beer as I reach the platform and let go of the rope to climb up to the bar. The song is saying, “tonight’s gonna be a good night” and it’s obvious to me how few of these people are actually going to make it out tonight. Of the scantily clad masses half have red or white headbands or armbands on, advertising Oh-la-la Bar or Sunset Bar, nearly all of them are wearing the daily colored piece of string from some other bar on their wrist, and all of them are either spray-painted or written on by a friend. The writing is vulgar. “Touch these their real” or “My other ride is your mom” usually misspelled and some fading from days before. On the platform overhead Tony, wearing an Osama bin Laden mask, is pouring a bottle of Tiger whiskey into a funnel someone at the bottom of the ladder is about to pound, while at the same time two girls behind him take off on the zip line and forgetting to let go before the stopper, flip heels over head into the water. Buckets are being passed around. People are dancing on tables. Another day at the river, same same, moment for moment, the movie Groundhog Day comes to mind.
This town is too much. Party all day and party all night. After a few weeks of that you are bordering on all systems failure. It takes me nearly two weeks but I finally wake up one morning and know, I either get out now or I get stuck here and waste the rest of my three-month trip. So I walk down to the nearest travel agent and buy a ticket on the next bus out. I don’t tell Joker Bar I’m leaving, I don’t say goodbye to anyone, I just pack up my bag and step onto the minivan. As I get inside, there is a guy in the backseat applauding. It’s Tony from Mojito Bar; He made it out too. We end up hanging out and sharing a room in Vientiene. Neither of us really let the Vang Vieng party die for a long time. It’s a hard habit to walk away from. Dancing all day and night, raging till the break of dawn.
Whether it’s flying off to some random country by yourself for a few months, or just picking up a pair of 3D glasses and staring at a paint covered plate: My favorite damn thing in life is figuring it out. How does that work? I don’t know.
Go figure that shit out!
Why does the moon have phases? Why does the reflection of the setting sun follow you as you walk? What color looks best next to blue? Where can I go to feel completely out of place? Once there how the hell can I be happy and have a good time?
Exploration. Take your life by the fucking balls and figure it out.
We are sitting around the kitchen in our beach house in Costa Rica when the phone rings. I answer, “Buenos Tardes.”
“Hey I need you girls to come up here right now.”
“Whats-a matter Trace?” It’s Tracy, our sweet Canadian neighbor that lives deeper in the jungle behind our house. But the phone’s gone dead.
Worrying for her wellbeing, the four of us girls run out of the house and up the hundred-meter path with two flashlights. As we approach her cabin she yells from the porch, “Stop right there, don’t come any closer!” we ask what’s the matter, why are we stopping, is she okay? She says there’s a snake on the steps and it just killed the cat. Cali and Carly have the flashlights and shine it on the steps revealing a ten-foot long boa constrictor. The skin blends in with the dirt and shadows, a dark brown and black criss-crossing pattern. It’s as big around as a two-liter bottle of coke. Sure enough it has just killed the cat and is now yawning trying to unhook its jaw so that it can make the constricted kitten into a proper dinner.
Tracy meanwhile is on the phone again, calling the local animal rescue people. They can’t take on a snake that size and say that we have to kill it. This is the third of Tracy’s cats “gone missing” in the last couple weeks and obviously now that the boa knows where to get food it will keep coming back. Furthermore, there is no knowing that next time it wont be inside the house and thus even harder to deal with. Tracy is distraught and still on the phone. I realize that the snake’s head is near the cat on the cement step and its first foot or so of neck/snake body is set against an ideal surface for machete chopping. So I call to Tracy, “Throw down the machete, we have to kill it.” And the girls yell with me, “Tracy throw down the machete, Molly’s going to kill it.”
Well, wait a minute. Yes, this is an ideal opportunity to kill this thing but do I really have it in me to take the life of an animal that large and magnificent. I’m not a lover of domestic predators, especially not snakes but that’s a really large beast to end. Smashing a spider is one thing. Chopping the head off a ten-foot boa constrictor is completely different. Eventually Carly and Brenna run down to the beach for help, yelling “Ayuda! Serpente!” and return with two local Ticos. They don’t speak a lot of English but the older one Chisco says, “It’s no problem. I kill lots of snakes.” They find a concrete dumbbell in the yard and as the younger man stands back with us, Chisco proceeds to smash and remove the head of this great beast while the five of us women shriek and cheer. Tracy gives them a bottle of rum for their services after the snake stops writhing headless in the dirt of her front yard. After all the commotion we go back down to our place, away from the scene of the double homicide, Tracy finally unwinds enough to cry over her cat and we all takes shots of rum before dragging the cat, the headless snake, and its head, into the jungle to bury them.
(this actually happened, but its written in the form it might take in a book I’m writing.)