"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Did I say New Mexico? Oh actually I meant California.

So here's the god's honest truth.

Taos is not all happy spiritual rainbows and green gardens.  Yes, I've had a few fun times this week, and that's what I've chosen to write about.  But also, it's frickin cold.  This is not the "warm place to spend the winter" that I imagined.

Also, Muna is not here and the gardens are not green.

Also, this is place is all about skiing, and I don't ski.

Also, I'm almost out of money and no one is hiring me.

Also, it's dry and dusty and barren and many of the people I've met in town are dry and dusty and barren.

Also, I am overwhelmed by male energy.  I have been surrounded by men all week at the hostel.  Some of the guys are fun and/or sweet.  Some of them are loud and immature.  And one of them has been downright inappropriate.

While I can see the draw of this place when the gardens are booming, Muna is there to teach and inspire, and the hostel is full of travelers (of both genders), I was about to face a long, dark, dusty, cold winter - full of men.

One night, things came to a head.  I laid in my cabin, trying to fall asleep, but plagued by the gnawing sensation that I was not in the right place.  That perhaps it was not time to stop traveling yet, at least not here.  After all, I had promised myself that I wouldn't choose somewhere to stay until I got there and felt the vibe and made connections and was sure it was right.

Hadn't I broken my own rule by making a commitment to Taos before even arriving?  I made it out of fear - fear of running out of money and of not knowing where to go next.  I was here ten years ago and liked it then so I thought that was enough to go on to make a commitment over the internet.  Turns out maybe not.

And also, I laid in bed worrying about the drunk men inside the hostel (one of whom was the inappropriate one), and how I was the only woman in the place.  I looked at the flimsy little lock on my cabin door and at the bear spray next to my bed.  It was a rather unsettling train of thought to fall asleep to, but fall asleep I finally did.

And then I was woken up at midnight by Mr. Inappropriate knocking on my door.  My exact worse fear.  "Hey!  Hey Melanie!  Hey!"

"Wh- who is it?" I asked, trying to sound strong and awake - neither of which I actually was.

"It's me!" the shaky voice said.  "Hey do you wanna go for a soak?"  He meant in the steam room/hot tub thing.  Ew.  No.  What should I do?  I didn't want to open the door.  But I didn't want to make him mad.  He had been drinking and I didn't know what kind of a drunk he was.  The fact that he even thought it was ok to wake me up in the middle of the night to ask this question meant his judgement was clouded at best.

Just then, I heard Jacob come out of his cabin next door to mine.  He had heard Mr. Inappropriate as well, thank god.  I heard him say, "Hey man, what are you doing out here?"

"Go back to sleep!" Mr. Inappropriate barked at Jacob.  "Hey so Melanie, do you want to go for a soak?" he said back to me, through my door, trying to use his softer voice now.

I was shaking in my bed, staring at the flimsy lock, hoping Jacob was still outside.  "Uh, no dude.  I'm - I'm good.  Thanks.  Goodnight."

There was a long pause.

Then Jacob's voice again, trying to get Mr. Inappropriate to leave, "Hey come on, man."

Another long pause.

"Alright.  Well if you're good then," Mr. Inappropriate said to me, disappointment in his voice.

"Yep I'm good.  Bye now." I said, and he left.

And I laid in my bed and shook and worried and shook and worried and barely slept all night.  It was 3 degrees outside.

At 7am, I was awoken with another abrupt knock at my door.  I bolted up in bed.

"Who is it?" I asked for the second time that night.

"It's Carl."  The young kid who sometimes stays at the hostel.  I sighed with relief, but  was still annoyed at being woken up - AGAIN.

"What do you want, Carl?" I asked groggily through the door.

"I need a ride to work.  Can you give me a ride into town?"

"Uggghhh," I groaned.  "Can't Amu or Subra or somebody else take you?  I'm sleeping."

"None of them are here.  I'm gonna get fired if I'm late again."

I considered for a moment whether that was my problem or not.  I didn't want to take him on principle - I was starting to feel like I was alternating between being the object of desire and the mother of the place, and neither role was appealing to me.  But he was young and I didn't want him to lose his job.  I compromised with myself.

"You need to give me gas money.  At least $7," I said as firmly as I could muster.

"Yes ma'am," he said through the door.  "And, um - I need to leave in ten minutes."

"Uggghhhh," I groaned again.  "I'll be ready.  Just lemme brush my teeth."

On the way back from driving Carl to work, I fussed and fretted within myself.  "I don't want to stay here anymore!" I said to no one in particular in the car.  But where else would I go that would be warmer?  And how could I possibly pay for more gas after still having not gotten any jobs?  I sent a plea up to the universe to help me out, show me the way.

When I pulled back up to the hostel around 8:30am, Jacob was standing in the parking lot with all of his bags packed.  He walked urgently up to my car.  "Hey," he said, bending over to my window.  "Can I pay you to take me to Santa Fe?"

"You got a computer to sell down there?" I asked anxiously, hoping to at least make some money today as his business partner.

"No, I gotta get outta here.  It's clear to me, man.  It's time to go.  I don't want to stay in this place anymore."

"Me either!" I said.  "Where are you gonna go?"

As I drove him to Santa Fe, we hatched a whole plan.  He had bought a ticket to Hawaii that leaves in a week from Oakland, California.  I thought sunny California sounded like a great idea, and if Jacob came with me, I could afford the gas.  Plus I wouldn't be lonely in the car.  We could travel together for the week and then go our separate ways after he left for Hawaii.

Then I realized that we would be passing through Mount Madonna Center, the place where I took my transformative silent retreat two years ago.  I've been dying to go back ever since.  When I mentioned it to Jacob, he said he's always wanted to go there, too.

Then I remembered that Mount Madonna Center had a school, too.  I made a few phone calls and sent my resume, and I have an interview lined up for Friday.

And my prayers were answered.  This wild girl isn't done with the open road - not yet.  Save some sun for me, California, here I come.

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  1. Melanie! Thank you so much for sharing your life with us! I LOVE reading your blog; every entry gives me chills and reaffirms the beauty of life!

  2. Thank you, my beautiful friend. You inspire me with your rapidly-evolving spiritual path! I have thought of you a few times on this trip, and wished I could come over and enjoy doing nothing with you. Like the good ol' days. I know we're still connected.