At night it feels I am walking on the roof of the world. If I had a decent vertical leap, I could easily slam dunk the moon, which is rising in full spherical splendor just out of reach over the razorback peaks of San Diego’s back country. It’s just a matter of me getting on a step ladder to collect a souvenir of one of the stars in Orion’s belt.
Toto, I’m definitely not in New Jersey.
I’m living in a house 3,500 feet above sea level. When my friend Paul found out about my marriage break-up, he kindly offered me a spare room in his place. At first the idea of a coast-to-coast move sounded crazy, but it didn’t take me long to realize the merit in pulling up stakes. If there is any outside shot of my wife and I ever getting back together, we need time and space apart. Otherwise, we will continue to tear each other to pieces.
Paul and my other housemate Rick have made me feel at home. They’ll make sure I won’t isolate. They’ll help me get connected here. Paul has a pot of coffee brewing. I have a pasta sauce bubbling away on a burner.
All the houses here seem to be built out of box kite material, only not nearly so sturdy. Rooms and floors are joined together at crazy angles as if by chance. I’m half expecting to walk past a dwelling with a garage where the attic is supposed to be, and no doubt I will light upon one soon enough. Oddly, though, the overall effect is harmonious, and the whole helter-skelter array blends in with the rocky and hilly terrain.
A short walk and the houses give way to horse farms. It is now day time. The sky is a cobalt vault. The sun could have been painted by Van Gogh. The hues of the landscape, by contrast, are muted. Trees and vegetation struggle to survive at this altitude. Even the tall oaks and evergreens appear stunted, an extension of the scrub. Water is scarce. Only the rocks flourish – boulders, outcrops, summits. The wind is blowing in from the desert and has a decidedly flinty tang. Back in the old days, a wrong turn on a mule wagon spelled certain death. These days, those seeking the American Dream are prepared to risk everything negotiating this treacherous northern passage.
I round a curve and suddenly I am the only person on this planet. Just me and splendid desolation. Any second, I’m expecting to come across Buddhist prayer flags fluttering in the stiff breeze. Perhaps an Indian shaman who can tell me why I’m here.
Talk to me, land, I find myself saying. I feel a spiritual tug, but I am confused and out of sorts. I badly miss my wife and the life I left behind. But I know in my heart this is the place I need to be. If any healing is to occur, it will happen here, in these mountains, where I can clear my head, establish a sense of perspective, and slowly come to terms.
Hopefully, eventually, I will gain new wisdom, new compassion, new insight. I will emerge a stronger person, in closer touch with my own humanity and divinity. But trial and ordeal lies directly ahead. No pain, no gain. I am in the right place. Let the healing begin.
Published On: December 06, 2006
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