I Moved To Oaxaca

Wednesday, December 31, 2003

I went to the movies today with Jason. You can see what we thought of "Paycheck" in the links bar. And because it's New Year's Eve public transit getting back to The City was slow and crowded, but most people on the bus know the score and it's okay. When I got on the 6 Parnassus I headed to the back where there were empty seats and, with a soiled window seat as an opener, this pretty scruffy-looking lady and I started talking and she said, "It's going to be a better year next year, even if we have to fight and die for it" which I guess could sound ominous coming from a woman with a leathery face and worn clothes with a heavy tobacco-smoke smell sitting in the back of a Haight Street bus but to me sounded very uplifting and reassuring.

One of the ceremonies my medicine community cohorts love is the visionquest. Nothing like praying for clarity in the beautiful, open desert. But with a conventional job it's difficult to take a week or ten days off and go sit fasting in the dirt. I always liked to go on San Francisco visionquests: just wander around San Francisco with a bunch of cigarettes and spare change and see what comes up. If you let it happen, all sorts of people will say all sorts of things to you. Mostly garbage, but sometimes I'd get something that rang a bell, like that lady on the bus today. My friend Steve Lee once said to me that he thought hiking the Appalachian Trail ruined him for life, and if he meant living a normal life then he's right. The Trail ruins people all the time. I don't feel the same, and I'm just plugging away at it bit by bit. One subject we come back to repeatedly is, why are we here, what's the purpose of our lives. Sometimes I think I must be a retard that I didn't get those kind of sophmoric questions out of my system when I was 20, along with binge drinking and casual sex.

And I suppose the reason I'm thinking about it now isn't just because of a bad Dick adaptation or a random conversation with a stranger, but because in a few days I am again leaving the city I love so dearly. I was sad to leave San Francisco in April, I was sad to leave it again in June, and I'm sad to go now. And this time I don't have a 3-week hiking extravaganza and a jaunt through Europe ahead of me, or the excitement of wondering where in Mexico I'll end up. I know exactly where I'm going back to, and yeah I like living and working in Oaxaca a lot, but I also know exactly what Oaxaca is not, and it ain't San Francisco. And I'm worried that when I figure out what it is I'm doing with my life it will be something that doesn't have a place here.


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