The Smell Of Rich Hippie

lavBack in my salad days as a scrappy, bespectacled, sex-positive feminist Mills College undergrad, I dated an older man I call Mr. Big. During the week he was a Hollywood music-business attorney baller-about-town, but every other weekend he flew up north to fulfull his most important role – that of doting single Dad in pastoral Marin County. We shared LA nights eating steak at Morton’s in LA, me in party clothes made of synthetic fabric (and not much of it) and him in nice suits, and sunny summer days barbecuing halibut for fish tacos next to the pool in the bucolic burg of Fairfax, me in my then-ubiquitous 90s-rave/grunge  overalls and him in the Tevas and Dead t-shirts that belied his Bay Area Boomer roots. We drank wheatgrass shots at the Newsroom and scotch at the Redwood Room. They were the best of times.

I once sneered to him about ‘Kiehl’s-wearing’ yuppies, unaware of the fact that I, too, would eventually succumb to the deceptively seductive, plain black-and-white packaging of the almost-clinical looking skin care line. I was by turns fascinated and slightly intimidated when he took me into Bristol Farms, the quaint precursor to Whole Foods which sits elegantly and unobtrustively on Sunset and Fairfax (no relation to the town of Fairfax) in West Hollywood. Accustomed to the flourescent hells of Safeway and Canned Foods (now reincarnated as Grocery Outlet) in dense urban neighborhoods, looking back I think it was the soft lighting that induced cognitive dissoance. Since Mr. Big was paying for my broke student ass, I was saved the sticker shock that always accompanies these charming, incandescently-lit bastions of all that is organic.

And some months later, as I stood in the clawfoot tub of his newly rented flat in Sausalito, showering beneath the sloped ceiling and its clever skylight, I dipped into his supply of toiletries and decided right then and there that lavender was the Official Smell of Rich Hippies. Sure, they may have all doused themselves with patchouli when young, unwashed, and skint, but as soon as they got a bit of a portfolio or a postage stamp of real estate, in comes the lavender, to stay. Now, I have been living in Marin County for nearly three years, and visiting it for much longer than that, so I know of what I speak. Southern Marin is the capital of Rich Hippies, the apex of anti-consumerist consumerism, the mecca of self-conscious conspicuous consumption, and the bastion of all that is organic, local, natural, and otherwise worthy of a tribe that, while largely rejecting such obvious excesses as Hummers and blood diamonds, still likes nice shit. Enter a cascade of ideologically pure, environmentally-friendly bath, body, and food products that will enrapture your senses and decimate your wallet.

And now that I’m two years older than Mr. Big was when he was dating me, I’ll be goddamned if I didn’t stop by Whole Foods last night for fresh bucatini and greens and if the aromatherapy spray on my office desk isn’t……….lavender.

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When You Leave

This time I wasn’t deep into The Ugly Cry before I even hit the freeway onramp out of the airport – I managed to save that until I was safely behind locked doors. This time there were just a couple of pretty tears as I piloted my car through the British fog that enveloped San Francisco, foot to the floor, aiming towards the deep heat of Marin. I kept it all at bay as I went shopping at World Market to cheer myself up – a few new votive holders, a bag of interesting-looking pasta, drawer liners. Anything to keep me from thinking of how you’re gone now.

 

When you leave, the earth tilts beneath my feet and there’s no compass here, no way to know which way is up. North, south, our eternal question (now that east and west has been solved). Straight forward or ass-backwards, it’s hard to say. The fountain you set up this morning is gurgling away in a lovely melody, but all I hear is your absence. The rancho, this petite little treehouse in the middle of a place we’d never otherwise come if time and circumstance hadn’t dropped me here on my head, is too big. The Arabic-looking bedspread is gone, stripped and sent to a better room, one with more life.

 

In these hours after you go back to your real life and I to mine, it’s always the same. The quiet – not the kind I like and strive so hard for – the trail of pretty things you always leave, too much food in the fridge we didn’t end up eating. Your bottled water on the counter, the ghost of Egyptian musk that will dissipate within hours.

 

Thank God for the dogs. They bark, bringing life to the house, and they require me to be present, to not slip into the miasma of  self-pity and ennui that always follow your departure, to leave the tequila and the medicine cabinet alone.  I’ll go through the motions – feed them, water the garden, wash the dishes, get things ready for work tomorrow – all the while walking around with a ragged hole blown through me, since the other half of my soul has landed four hundred long miles away, alone in its own house, but not yet at home.  

The Manifesto

I am someone’s daughter. Someone’s sister. Someone’s friend. But no one’s mother.

 

I am the last leaf on my tree, the last stop on the line. I am the terminus. After me, no other.

 

No one will walk the earth looking through the same blue of my eyes, I will always be an odd branch on any spindly family tree. I am the alpha and omega, the beginning and end. The only of my kind.

 

My refusal to leave one after me is my gift to the world. I was here, but I will not leave another after me to prove it. There will be no daughter, son, or descendents to validate the eyeblink of time I walked these streets, these beaches, this earth.

 

Some have children so they can assuage the deep human desire to be immortal, to not fade and disappear from the face of the earth, be forgotten, for we as people want nothing so much as to be remembered, and we think that those who come after us, if they have our eyes, our name, our gestures, will remember. But they won’t, and eventually they will be forgotten as well. It is inevitable and it is The Way.

 

I choose to create my immortality through the ripple effects of my actions. My choices are my children’s blue eyes. My words are my descendent’s names. When I am kind, when I extend an act of graciousness or consciousness, it changes the life of another, and he or she becomes different, and he or she in some way passes on my act, and so it continues, infinitely. In this way, I will never die. My time here on earth will have its legacy, the same as any grandmother. My name will be nameless, a wordless beautiful thought, a right choice, the wash of well-being over some unknown soul in the unknowable future, and this will be my bloodline.