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.

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.

Stuck in the Early 60s

Lately, since discovering that my trip to Ypres will have to wait and a trip to Marin County is much more likely this summer, I’ve found myself listening to music from 1959-62.

The music of this era all seems to have a weird, dreamlike quality about it.  I find I’m really starting to love The Platters in particular.  I’m not sure if I was that into them in my previous life but I love the way they used reverb and broad harmonies to build a smooth, smoky sound.  I also love the fact that they tended to cover a lot of old standards.  “My Prayer” for instance actually goes back to the 1930s (the lovely Vera Lynn did a version).

I could almost forget that 1959-62 was about the time my previous life started coming apart.  Almost.

I’m hoping that I can build some new, happier memories in Marin County this time around.  I’ll have my fiance with me and I won’t miss a single opportunity for romance if I can help it.  And if this trip is everything I hope it will be, then I’m thinking we could come back to Marin County every summer.  I can’t change the past, but I can turn a place where I met disappointment and disorder into our own special summer place.