Jan and I washed and dried the dishes and listened to Phil Ochs’s Pleasures of the Harbor on the record player. The melodies and lyrics of each song felt meaningful and oddly poignant – the way it is when you listen to a piece of music for the very first time, and its enormity is overpowering.
Afterwards, I took held onto the cover of the record I’d purchased a couple of months earlier, went into the bathroom and locked the door. With my journal on my lap, I began to scribble down some of the writings by Ochs that appeared on the back of the album’s jacket.
“…and the bleeding seer crawled from the ruins of the empire and stood bleeding, bleeding on the border he said, passion has led to chaos and now chaos will lead to order.”
I placed the slender black marker down for a moment and looked out the window at Duboce Park. It was still, nothing to observe around the premises except the freshly turned vegetable garden adjacent to the house. I shifted my eyes toward the manse across the road from my window. There was little activity, I wondered if that meant school was in session.
The silly joke made me smile.
With my pen in hand, I began to scratch out a self-directed message in my journal.
“Everyone seems to think that it’ll help if I ask for an answer. It’s not an easy thing to do. I want to try to write about/to God, but I can’t. The words won’t come. There are too many concepts to consider... it all boils down to one basic idea. Stay simple. Don’t worry about anything, because when you stop worrying, you open yourself up to answers already in existence. There is little reason to constantly wonder why.
‘“Relax, and you shall find your place in space.”’
Meadowlark rang in my ears. It wasn’t much, but it was something.
That morning the sky was blue streaked and the temperature had soared to 87 degrees. There was no excuse to wear the green kangaroo so I stored it safely inside of my pack. Jan and I set off to the underground shop to see about a ride north of the city, and then hiked over to the San Francisco Ride Centre. That proved to be a useless effort; it was explained that we each had to pay a four-dollar registration fee before anyone would assist us in finding a ride.
No can do.
One fact was constant; without money, finding our ticket out of San Francisco and up to the west coast of Canada wasn’t going to come easy. Not unless we hitchhiked our way out. That was a definite possibility.
As we sat in a Chinese restaurant eating fifty-cent bowls of steamed white rice, Jan and I tossed schemes back and forth but it still came down to money. We had enough to get our butts back to Canada, and then we’d go from there and see how long we could make our dollars last if we couldn’t find work. As long as we weren’t faced with forking out dough for fees so headhunters could locate rides for us, we’d be okay. While eating our lunch, jointly, we visualized that we’d find a ride between Wednesday and Saturday.
I was starting to think I had a split personality. One side of me was set to make Holy Order of Mans (HOOM) my home and the other was talking about going to Alberta, with Jan and the friends we hoped to visit there. It was a strange and surreal state of consciousness; I looked forward to synthesizing my thoughts and options so that they would become united. The only drawback was that it couldn’t be forced, but the pot was about to boil over.
I had one day to go.'
1976: Tapes from California © 2013 Jill C. Nelson