Back From California

Got back last night from a long, wild, and very therapeutic drive from Santa Cruz to Portland.

In Santa Cruz I saw sea otters, sea lions, and whales for the very first time.  The boardwalk there was also wonderfully nostalgic, like something from Blackpool in the old days.

Passed through San Francisco, my second time across the Golden Gate Bridge and into Point Reyes Station.  Did some beachcombing at Drake’s Beach, and got some of that lovely bleu cheese at the Palace Market.  Helped an old lady (perhaps I knew her long ago?) park her truck.  Then it was off to Petaluma for a stop at In N’Out burger.  Not once did I feel the least bit sad though; long as these places are still there I can only feel happy about being there.

The van I was driving developed an exhaust leak and I got very sick driving into Humboldt County.  Luckily our rommate had a CO monitor so we kept an eye on the levels.  We tried to get the van fixed along the way but nobody would do it, so we took our chances and pushed on into Portland the next day, stopping every 100 miles or so to air the van out.

The new roommate is settling in nicely already.  I like this guy; he’s that perfect mix of responsible and bold enough to take a risk, he loves animals and plants, and not much gets to him.  He knows about my eccentricity and really doesn’t care as long as I’m fair with him.

In all, a very good week and a very refreshing break from the ordinary.


Today’s Events

Today had a very different feeling. I didn’t have any new memories but things started having more emotional reactions and I even confirmed at least one memory.

I woke up early (due to allergies) to a misty morning with scores of different kinds of birds singing.  After breakfast, we drove down to Santa Venetia.

The first emotional trigger was actually in Fairfax, on the way to San Rafael. A police car got behind me- one of those Dodge Chargers that are styled so much like the muscle cars they used back in Phil’s time- and seeing that car in my rearview while songs from the late 60s played on the car stereo almost gave me a panic attack.

All the way, I kept second-guessing my route and finding that I was actually correct on my first guess all the way there. I would say “this is probably the wrong way” but I would find that some subconscious part of me knew the way, even though I deviated quite a lot from the route I had clicked through on Streetview. I found my way to the “Hermit House” (the place that inspired “A Scanner Darkly”) with incredible ease but didn’t stay long. We stayed longer at the Marin County Civic Center and took some pictures but vertigo got the better of me.

Didn’t get a picture of the house on Francisco Street in Berkeley, but I passed it. I had a bit of trouble finding that one but I found it without having to consult a map. There were people outside, I was busy driving, my fiance was slow with the camera, and I really didn’t want those people to see me making multiple passes in a nondescript sedan with a camera out!

From there we went to Telegraph Avenue, which I found with only moderate difficulty. We stopped at Rasputin Music (formerly University Music) where Phil was a clerk, and I asked a clerk if there had been listening booths up in the loft where they now keep the latin and classical music. I am pleased to say I have confirmed this memory! While I was there I bought CDs of Toscanini conducting Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and Leonard Bernstein conducting Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony. I almost bought a 4 LP set of Bernstein conducting Fidelio but sadly I have no turntable yet.

After lunch at the Caffe Meditteraneum my fiance and I decided to head back the long way via the Golden Gate Bridge, which gave me the only major wrong turn I’ve had since I got to the Bay (turning eastward on Hwy 24).

Let me tell you, the freeways leading up to the Golden Gate Bridge are a mess! Save your sanity and don’t bother! I didn’t have to check the map once all day but dealing with cars weaving in and out of lanes in bumper-to-bumper traffic probably aged me about ten years.

After all that, it was a relief to head back to Point Reyes Station. We took a drive out to Drake’s Beach and had a nice romantic walk to cool down after dealing with the crowds in the Bay Area. I’ve come to feel very relaxed and happy here in Marin County and I think I’ll be back.

All things considered, I still don’t know if I was Phil and I guess I never will. I know the area a little too well to brush it off completely, but none of my confirmations have been really stunning..

One thing that did emerge is that I am undoubtedly a better writer. Seeing this place from the ground brings to mind a descriptive richness that one needs to really convey the look of the place; Phil simply didn’t have that. If I was him then I have it better all around and I’m happy with who I am and what I have now.

Pics of the trip to come when things settle down a bit, probably Monday or Tuesday. Tomorrow we’ve scrapped our plans to go to Muir Woods due to the crowds (we stopped by today but didn’t go in because there was nowhere to park). Instead, we will be going back to the gorgeous seaside here in Point Reyes, this time exploring the Tomales Bay National Seashore. Then it’s back to Eureka for the night before dragging ourselves back to Portland, thoroughly exhausted but strangely satisfied.

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.