Made It To Eureka

Just a brief post because I really don’t trust the wi-fi here at this hotel.  I’m in Eureka for the evening.

Saw a gas station along the Redwood Highway that kind of reminded me of the Esso station I remember seeing some time in the early 60s but I don’t know if that was the place.  Aside from that, nothing but a faint twinge of familiarity that I typically get at these seaside towns on the Pacific coast.

The redwoods were really something to see though.  If not for the poor light and the fact that the big car they gave us was a bit of a handful on those twisting roads, I’d have taken pics.

I will be completing the leg to Point Reyes Station tomorrow.  If I’m going to have a flashback, it’ll be about the time I get deep into Marin County.  Still not counting on it though; I just don’t feel like anything’s going to happen.

Packed And Ready

This should be my last entry before leaving on my trip, unless something comes up at the last moment.

Budget didn’t have an economy or compact car on their lot, so they upgraded me for free to a premium sedan.  They were going to rent me a nice white Chrysler 300 but they had already rented it out to someone (confusion and chaos in the office today), so they gave me a Ford Taurus Limited which is still a very nice car.  I got a little overwhelmed by all the bells and whistles on the thing since I’m so accustomed to driving cars that are barely even running.

I stopped and got us some groceries at Trader Joe’s on the way out.  We should be set for most of the weekend with the stuff I got.  All we’ll need to buy is anything dairy or any veggies and we can do that when we get to Point Reyes Station.  We may also be forced to buy dishes down there but I’ve bought a couple of microwaveable Thai noodle boxes just in case we end up in that predicament.

I also got us three different kinds of cider, something Phil wasn’t known for swilling but I’ve developed a taste for since moving to Portland… it ought to ground me a bit if things get awkward.  Also, I really want to try it with bleu cheese since discovering what dessert wine does for the stuff while my mother was visiting.  I figure something sweet like cider could do wonders for it and I’ve read that there’s a place called Cowgirl Creamery down there that has really good bleu cheese.

Going to load a few more songs onto my mp3 player too.  I’ve already got pretty much all my favorite songs on it but I’ll do one last check.  The playlist for the drive down the coast runs about 140 files and some of those are entire albums ripped as a single mp3.

I’ve only got a cursory amount of packing left to do, and that’ll be all the stuff I need to have out until the last moment.

My first stop will be in Eureka, since Portland is pretty far up the coast.  From my place to the B&B it’s around 680 miles or about as far as the drive from Key West to Hilton Head, for those on the East Coast (or Paris to Padua for those on the Continent).

If any of my readers in Marin County runs into a tallish brunette wearing a blue lapis pendant, feel free to say hi but don’t expect me to talk about past lives.  This isn’t the triumphant return of a long-lost legend, this is just a slightly insane author trying to sort out where her past ends and her fictions begin.

Assuming Nothing

I’m trying to clear my head of any and all expectations, assumptions, and preconceptions before I get to Marin County.

Now, granted, that’s quite impossible to do completely, but it’s helpful to remind myself that most of my case for having been Phil is a handful of memories, some very minor synchronicities, a similarity of body and being that is consistently “a little more than halfway” to quote my father, and the rest is all just gut feeling.

It’s the gut feeling I’ve been trying to tamp down the most, and I feel like I’ve done an okay job of that.  Without the gut feeling this is by far the weakest of my past life claims (Pte. John Harris being the strongest owing to the sheer number and quality of confirmations and the fact that he wasn’t famous).

I’m actually kind of hoping nothing triggers me on this trip.  The truth is I don’t want to have been Phil because I want to believe he’s achieved gnosis and isn’t coming back.  If I was him, then I either fucked up or I was fooling myself.  Also, if I was him then I was a terrible father and a fatally flawed husband and that’s a painful thing to consider.

I had gotten rid of the gut feeling that I was Count William, until meeting a friend whom I had only spoken to online up until that point and who reminded me in subtle (and not-so-subtle) ways of Richard jerked me back into that feeling permanently and made me feel awkward about talking to my friend for months.  I don’t want that again… but I do want answers.

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread, I suppose.

I’m picking up the rental car and packing my bags tomorrow, then Thursday morning first thing we’re heading on the first leg of our drive, stopping in Eureka before continuing on to Point Reyes Station on Friday.  It’s such a long drive from Portland and I haven’t driven in almost two years so at the moment I’m actually more nervous about the drive itself.

I’ll post at least one more update before I leave.

Memory Fragment/ A Thought On My Upcoming Trip

I had a flash of memory from John’s life on Wednesday, during class of all things.

I remembered being in a dentist’s office on what I took to be the high street in Ledbury some years before the war.  It was a narrow store front affair, with cabinets full of dentist tools to one side.  I was there getting a tooth pulled which was very unpleasant.  Afterward, the dentist handed me a squat brown bottle which I assume had some sort of patent medicine that would probably get you 20 years hard time for having on your person nowadays.

Also, on this upcoming trip to California, I’ve warmed up to the idea of treating it more like a real vacation.  I’m actually pretty excited about some of the things I’m going to see along the way.  Hopefully I’ll have time to spend an evening with a friend in Eureka, and of course I’ll be sure to cruise the Avenue of the Giants with my fiance.

I think the time for me to suspend disbelief that I was Phil is over though.  The time has come for me to approach this trip as if I know nothing.  I’m still going to see if I know my way around the area better than I normally would from clicking through the route on Streetview and I’m going to make note of anything unusual that happens on the trip (including flashes of memory), but I’ve let go of my main goal of confirming and triggering memories.  It’s just not worth it any more.  Even if I was him, it doesn’t matter any more.  I’m not him any more, I’m just someone who is oddly similar but with my own identity, history, name, and achievements.

As far as anyone, from my friend in Eureka to the owner of the B&B and the waiters at the Cafe Med will know, I’m just a hipster writer from Portland taking a literary tour and soaking in the scenery and culture.  I’ll happily embrace that role, because the alternative is really not helpful to think about right now.

For My Upcoming Trip

I thought of a little test I could set up for myself while I’m on this trip to see places from Phil’s life.

Normally when I go on road trips, even if it’s a place I’ve been before (like my own mother’s house in Las Vegas), I usually have to write down street names and make small notes.  Even though I have a good sense of direction and often memorize directions from Google Streetview, I almost never get where I’m going without looking at notes.

This time, I want to do it different.  I’ll still have my notes just in case I forget, but I will hand them to my fiance and I will see just how far I can get without using them.   The area thankfully hasn’t changed too much in the last 50 years or so, and there are still plenty of landmarks Phil would have found familiar so that’s not really a concern.

Considering how good I am at memorizing directions and my generally good sense of direction it won’t completely prove or disprove anything if I don’t have to look at my directions at all, or if I have to look at them once or twice.  Still, f I find that I can navigate the area just fine without being reminded too often about where things are, then that does at least strengthen my circumstantial case for having been Phil.  After all, at that point I’d be doing better than I’d do trying to find my own mother’s house.

It’s going to be weird though, going back.  If I’m right about having been Phil then I left there with too many bridges burned and too many swords over my brow.  Perhaps it’s better that I’m returning to Marin County as a stranger this time.

I’m Actually Going…

I’m actually going.

Holy crap, I’m actually going.

That thought’s been playing in my head for the last week or so.  I’m actually going to see places that I knew in my last life.  I’m returning to my roots in the Bay.

Such a strange mix of emotions right now.  How will I feel when I’m on the ground in Point Reyes Station, or Berkeley?  How will I feel when I see the houses I lived in, the record store I used to work in, the high school I went to?

Maybe it’ll prove to me once and for all that I wasn’t him.  I’m kind of hoping that’s the case.  The whole time I’ve suspected I was Phil I’ve been vexed by what exactly that means, if it’s part of some bigger Divine plan that I’ve been returned to this earth or if it was hubris to think I’d be whisked away to some heavenly Palm Tree Garden when I died, and what if anything I should do with myself as a writer.  But if I wasn’t him, then I have none of his baggage and that can only be a good thing because he had way too much of it.

Graduation gives me a good pretext to go… as far as a lot of my friends know that’s my reason for this trip.  I’ve admitted publicly that I’m a fan of Phil’s work but only a few friends know the real story, and that’s how I want to keep it.  I sure as hell won’t say here where I’ll be staying or what my exact itinerary will be, on the off chance someone more unhinged than me might think it was a good idea to confront me.  Even if I meet someone who knew me in that life, I don’t feel like I want to bother them with it.  This is about more than just answering selfish questions.  Even so, there is someone I really would like to apologize to for how I treated them back then, and if I say anything, it will be by way of apology.

I’ve still got a few more weeks for this to really sink in.  The trip will be in late June.  I’ll be driving, which will bring me right through the Humboldt Redwoods and some perfectly majestic stretches of the Pacific coastline.

The place I’m staying will have WiFi, so there will probably be updates.  Also, I got a new camera, so photos are likely and video is a possibility.

Until then, updates here will be sparse as I finish up a grueling term at Portland State.  I’ve had some great success with the research I’m doing on that old medieval manuscript, including discovering things about it that the library didn’t know.  That project is eating a good bit of my spare time though, and probably will until the middle of June.

Until my next update, stay tuned… this story isn’t over.  Not by a long shot.


When I get to California this summer, I intend to take every opportunity for closure with my apparent previous life.

For one thing, I’m going to visit places I knew.  Point Reyes Station, San Rafael, and Berkeley are all on the itinerary.

For another, I plan to have what I guess could be termed a memorial service for my earlier life.  I’ll go out to the cliffs along the California coast with a boom box and play “Da Stiegen Die Menschen Als Licht” from Beethoven’s “Cantata on the Death of Joseph II” and watch the sun set over the ocean.

I already feel the need for this more strongly than I have since the memories broke.  I think my recent trip to San Jose- a place I’m sure I had been to at least on occasion during that life- has really only made the pull of these places I knew from the late 30s to the early 70s that much more irresistible.

It’s time to start letting go and moving on.  I have learned a lot from my previous life but I can’t write in the same voice or see the world through the same eyes, because too much has happened since then.

Incidentally, my next book should be out some time around the 33rd anniversary of Phil’s stroke; the significance of the number is not lost on me.