Sunday, January 4, 1981
Cher and Clifford are already house-sitting for me. I have the names of her crazy friends on Maui, and I’ll be on the midnight bus to San Francisco. I slept in the van last night. They like my house. I drew a sketch of it from memory last night, sort of comparable to my cartoon sketches of myself, a symbol of what I am leaving and what I will return to.
Right now I’m in the Garberville laundromat, waiting for the movie to start. It’s The Empire Strikes Back.
Cher thought it was mature of me to give up my original travel plans, driving to Big Bend and the Mardi Gras. Well, I’ll go where I can. Only a car breakdown would force me out into the open, on foot with a loaded backpack. So here I am, in the open, bearing (are you ready?):
Two pair brown blue jeans (I’m wearing one)
One velour shirt
One thin cotton shirt
One batik tee shirt
Two pair bluejean cutoffs
The shirt I’m wearing
The sweater ditto
Four pair socks (I’m wearing one)
The shoes I’m wearing
A partly eaten loaf of bread and ditto piece of cheese
A bag of dried apples
A toothbrush and toothpaste
An issue of Big Moon (a poetry magazine)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Matsuo Basho, the Japanese haiku poet, translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa
A plastic tube tent
My sleeping bag
A long list perhaps, but not very much stuff for two or three months. Oh, and this notebook, two empty ones, and a couple of ballpoint pens.
I’m trying to understand what I am, where I am, and maybe even why. Any answers are transitory and transitional.
Here in the Garberville laundromat a girl on roller skates endlessly circles the washers, followed by a mottled dog. Where is she going? Lots and lots of distance if you add it all up. Faster and faster as she tries to outspeed the two dogs (another dog has joined the chase.)
I’m going to Hawaii and back.
The clothes are tumbling around and around in the dryer.
There’s nowhere to go, but something changes during the trip. The clothes in the dryer don’t go anywhere but around in circles, but while they do it, they are changing, becoming more dry.
Monday, January 5, 1981, after dawn
Plain clothes cops hassling derelicts who have nowhere else to go out of the bus station
Old Asian master teaching black-bearded man how to sword fight
Seagulls chattering in front of the Civic Center
Pigeons avoiding the man who washes the edge of the fountain
Rosy sunlight on the upper parts of buildings
I spent the bus ride to San Francisco with my land-partner Yon’s sister Mary,
got her past the old blacks who wanted to help her carry her bags,
who frightened her (and me)
I talk so fast when I talk to her
The benches are wet
I’m sitting on some Marxist-Leninist handout about the draft
They still describe reality in the same gibberish they used ten years ago
Some truth in it, but it sounds so funny the way they word it
Warmongering Reagan, a Homeric epithet like Earthshaker Poseidon
They are too free with adjectives
Reality does not have so many adjectives
Sunstruck bobbing silver
halfway up skyscraping hotel,
a helium balloon
So at last I’m at the airport, past the X-ray machine, with a round trip to Maui all paid for, and feeling okay about it. The woman who sold me my ticket was really supportive and helpful and worked hard at her computer to find me a lower fare. I went through some heavy moments of fear this afternoon in Berkeley when I bought my maps and trail books, about whether I could deal with being in Hawaii on foot with all this stuff, could I find places to sleep, could I make friends.
I don’t care. I’m on my way. I may get wet. I may get rudely awakened some morning, but it’ll all be okay. Neither my tent nor my sleeping bag are orange. I can hide.
Seeing the Pacific sunset from the air will be a trip.
I’ve never taken off here in a plane going south before. There’s a spectacular view of fault lakes and ocean, not to mention the mountain range between. There’s San Jose already, Pacifica straight below. The trees on the mountains look like moss. The sunset’s nice but I’m on the wrong side of the plane. There’s already lights turned on down below.
And now I’m at the Los Angeles airport. United Airlines has some round rooms sort of like the room of my dream with the ocean outside. The gate where my flight leaves is however quite rectangular. The flight attendants are dressed in purple dresses with yellow flowers. Can pretty dresses work as uniforms?
The plane looks huge, ten seats across and maybe fifty rows of them. I’m in 42-A.
I have nothing with me to tell me how far from the mainland these islands are. Maui is one degree south of the Tropic of Cancer. I see no obvious hippies sitting around me so far.
The Hawaii agricultural inspection had a form with lots of obnoxious questions about my employment, where I was going and why, which I mostly filled in with question marks. True enough, I don’t exactly know. My intentions are obscure even to me.
I’m sitting in this Honolulu airport lobby trying to grok. It’s a long time till 6 a.m. People walk back and forth, looking mostly like Californians of one type or another, all looking somewhat out of place, like my parents do when they go on vacation. I feel kind of out of place. I’d like to do something like sit outside and draw a palm tree to localize myself.
It feels kind of sticky, like a summer night in Ohio. I’m sweating. Honolulu has a population of over 300,000, all Oahu about 700,000, and the entire state just under a million, according to this brochure from Aloha Airlines.
Almost all the women here, whatever else they’re wearing, have very high heels. Well, there went one in sandals. I think if people were meant to walk tiptoe, we’d have feet and legs more like those of cats. The women’s leg muscles look uncomfortable and strained.
Tuesday, January 6, 1981, sometime after 5 a.m.
Here I am at Gate 46, waiting for the Maui plane.
I’m on it now, a Boeing 737 just like the San Francisco to Los Angeles plane. The funky cinder-block door of the gate led me to expect a small propeller plane.
Dawn’s hot rainbow horizon
dark blue ocean waves
over a jagged fogbank