Once (in Big Sur)

Once when I was twenty-one a misprint in the Boston Herald read: 49 Fare to Los Angeles.  The ad was mistakenly prepared for a horizontal lay-out instead of vertical, which resulted in the 1 being cut off the actual fare of $149.  They had to honor the advertised price until the next printing.  There wasn’t time to choose a worthy companion as I scrambled for tickets, so I booked my seat and went alone.  It was my first time out West.  I was ready.

Winding the cliffs of U.S. 1, music blaring, window down, I never felt so free.  Somewhere outside of Big Sur I stumbled upon a van-full of hippies on siesta from a rock-hunting expedition.  We lay across the roof of their van in the California sun smoking dope and laughing (who were they, these hippies? where are they now?).  To thank me for all the cigs I shared with them they gave me a beautiful necklace of malachite and quartz crystal.  It might as well have been diamonds and pearls, it meant so much to me.  A day later I saw San Francisco for the first time and fell in love with it.  The fog.  The hills.  The vibe.  At the Headlands, high above Golden Gate Bridge, the wind pushed against my back like an old friend and I felt like I could fly.

I have questions.  Will I ever feel so free again?  If yes, how?  Is manufactured freedom equally as rewarding as authentic freedom?  Is this the part where I suddenly take up sailing, rock climbing or golf?  Is this why the Red Sox are such an important part of my life these days?

For a spell I got a rise from prowling the night with my ipod.  Instantly, I was transported back to the time of my choice by listening to various soundtracks of my life.  But I soon realized (joyful as it was) I was doing nothing more than speed-walking though the past.  I’m afraid, for me, nothing compares (so far) to driving alone, music blaring, window down, until something interesting tells me to stop.  And while I long for freedom of the road, I can’t bear the thought of being without my family.

When I think of that necklace, my mind returns to one year after I received it; In a downtown thunderstorm I retraced my steps, studying each crack in the pavement, searching for the exact spot where the clasp snapped and it fell from my neck, forever.

There must be something I’m overlooking, some way it all fits together – freedom, family, adventure.  But how?

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4 responses to “Once (in Big Sur)

  1. magical memory. Treasure it. I am after reading this beautiful recollection.
    Reminds me of the days I felt so free driving in my car and listening to my favorite albums or riding my bike to town to buy the new pop rocks!
    Yep…What happened to those carefree days gdarnit? Does it have to do with family or the state of the world? Global warming, the falling dollar, the housing market, lying politicians and senseless wars? My head swells with thoughts about all this and my pending bills. And to think you are raising two kids atop of that? Hats off to you Shannie B.

    Cheers,
    SB

  2. It goes back to my realization that you cannot relive a past moment in time because it was just that, a moment in time. That’s why they are called memories.
    Freedom cannot be recreated. It comes to us not when asked, but when it feels like it.
    Every time I have tried to recreate a moment in time, or a feeling I had while doing something, I have been very dissappointed. Each adventure, journey or experience must be treated as it’s own. If you spend time wondering why it dosn’t feel the same, you miss out on what that experience is truly about for you right now.
    It’s like when they did Woodstock in the 90’s. Everyone wanted it to be like Woodstock in the 60’s. They tried so hard with their tye dye and drugs, but it couldn’t be done. Why? Because it was the 90’s, not the 60’s.
    Every experience has it’s own time.
    So, the freedom you felt on that trip, will never be felt again in the same way. This is good. If everything kept happening or feeling the same way each time, we would cease to enjoy it or remember it.
    Family, Freedom and adventure can still happen. Only now you are in a mini van, there are no hippies and there is no dope to smoke.
    Instead there is the experience of what you are doing right now that will one day be your memories.
    You will look back someday at a camping trip or something with your family and say “we were so free and happy then. ”
    You aren’t missing anything in this picture. You just need to look back with fondness at what you have done and remember to be present in what you are doing.
    jb

  3. Ooo, well put and point taken.

    What followed that first solo roadtrip were dozens of adventures equally inspiring for me, but Wandering Off must now be replaced by Setting-Out. The kind of adventure I’m talking about doesn’t happen with the tv remote in my hand, as I empty the dishwasher or while I moisturize my face at night. No, No, and No. It comes from making contact with something new, something from the ouside world, which is harder to find with so many passengers on board. But I believe you’re right – it can still happen. I just wish someone else would pack the minivan for us.

  4. Very well put.
    I believe we all experience these feelings. Yet, I also believe that the future holds moments that will be even more precious.

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