I brought too much shit.
I brought way too much shit.
Probably should have left the mask behind.
No. I need the mask. It’s easy to forget who I am on the Road, once the fatigue and the self-doubt start to set in. The mask is a good reminder.
I can’t actually wear the mask. It was made (not by me) for decoration, not for alter-ego swapping. Eventually, I will need to make one for myself. One to wear. But this one will do as a reminder.
14 hours on a Greyhound bus. The first six weren’t so bad. Then a layover in Los Angeles at 11 pm, where I stood among a swarming mass of people presumably trying to make it to their loved ones for the Easter holiday. Then another 7 + hours to reach San Fran. Could have been worse though. The man across from me had been traveling from Florida by bus for 3 straight days.
I scored a seat to myself, which I was grateful for. Don’t know how I would have slept otherwise. Hardly slept at all as it was. I twisted myself into all sorts of acrobatic positions in order to get comfortable. Oh, if only to be a small child again. Or to be re-incarnated as a cat. (careful what you wish for). But I did manage to sleep some, and when I did, I dreamt of the Sephirah Kether and of a woman undergoing shamanic dismemberment and re-assembly.
I arrived in the northern part of San Fran, near the Bay Bridge, and began a 1.5 hour hike down south to my friend’s apartment. I felt like I covered a wide swath of the city, walking through the financial district, through a dilapidated area with a lot of homeless people, to a part of the city that looked like an exact replica of the neighborhoods I used to walk through when I lived in New York, then through a more upscale community with parks, where it seem as if there was a neighborhood ordinance requiring everyone who lived there to own a dog.
I tried to make eye contact with some of the people I walked past, just to nod or to say hello, but no one was having it, except one black dude who told me to “have an easy day” and a homeless guy (also black) who sees me walking with my big pack, walking stick, djembe drum, and mask, and says he likes my style.
I started to play on the drum a little bit and it helps me with the walking, sort of like I’m making my imprint on the city as I pass through. My ego ran wild – what sight I am! The Mad Griot, walking the through the streets of San Francisco! Just wait until I become a household name! People will line the streets as I pass through their cities and towns (like they sometimes did for Peace Pilgrim), and they will offer me food and places to sleep, eager to hear stories of my various adventures.
I let these thoughts run through me, and then I told myself, “Pride cometh before a fall.” I have a feeling that my future is going to be full of falls.
By the time, I got close to my friend’s place, I was already winded and drenched in sweat. Then I got a text from her saying that she wasn’t home yet. So I continued walking until I reached a nearby park and collapsed next to a tree.
Your bag is too heavy. You’re out of shape. This was a bad idea.
I closed my eyes and told myself, “I accept this moment. I accept everything that is arising from this moment.” It takes a while, but I feel peaceful again.
A middle-aged white woman walking her dog stopped and said hello.
“Are you a traveling musician?” she asked, pointing at my drum.
“Something like that,” I said.
“Where are you headed?”
“Where ever the Tao takes me.” Not sure why I chose the word “Tao” when I normally would have said something like “The Spirit.”
“Me too!” she said. “I’m a Taoist chaplain!”
She takes a seat next to me and we begin to talk.
A couple walked by with their dog, who ran up to the chaplain’s dog and sniffed it’s ass. The chaplain warned the couple that her dog hasn’t been neutered yet. The couple and their dog left.
The chaplain gave me her card and told me to reach out if I wind up in trouble. Then she left. She was very nice. I hope I see her again.
My friend texted me, telling me to come over. I gather up the will and hike another two miles to her place. By now, my leather jacket feels like somebody dunked it in a pool. The temperature was freezing this morning; now it’s roasting.
My friend Shelley let me in and I unloaded my stuff. It’s good to see her. She looked the same as she did when I last saw her six years ago in NYC. There was a little something-something between us at one time, but it never went anywhere. I wondered if she had a boyfriend now. Not that it mattered; I needed to stay focused. When it comes to women, I tend to go all in and double-down. I needed to stay focused.
When I find out later that Shelley is seeing someone, I am both relieved and disappointed.
Shelley treats me to lunch and we fill each other in on the last few years. I feel self-conscious telling her my story, and, as I’m talking, I get the feeling from the expression on her face that I’m really pushing the limits of believability. But when I finished, she said, “Daryl, I don’t understand it, but if it makes you happy, then that’s what you need to do.”
She’s a good person.
We get back to the apartment and I make all sorts of plans to sort through my stuff, shower, write. I end up lying on the bed for hours. I can barely move. I go in and out of sleep and my dreams are troubled. As the sun begins to go down, my fears resurface. What will I eat? Where will I sleep? This was such a mistake!
I let these thoughts come and go, and then they are replaced by others: You can do this. We are with you. Everything you need will be provided. Have faith. Relax. Relax.