San Francisco had run its course for me. I was sick of squatting in abandoned buildings, watching people come and go, and dealing with the hardcore druggies and the hangers-on. I still wanted to be lost, but I thought I could do it in a less chaotic and healthier way. Joni Mitchell telling us to get back to the garden sounded pretty good to me.
So, I went exploring and “discovered” Emerald.
Crazy hippies living in these handmade house built mostly from salvaged or stolen materials So, I went. And I loved it. Lots of misfits and outlaws … my kind of people! I built myself a shack, shat in a bucket, and never felt so free. Money was scarce, but dope was plentiful and you could pick up spare change by being a nail banger in town.
Best of all, I was able to move on from Pamela, who held me together during those years in ‘Nam. I never even thought of her as Cassandra any longer, so thank you Pamela, and thank you Cassandra.
Those early days at Emerald were just SO MUCH FUN!
We were Robin Hood and his Merry Men and their Old Ladies, as we referred to them. It was non-stop summer camp. We taught ourselves (and each other) building, gardening, parenting … you name it. There was a sense of discovery and re-birth. We took the peace and love thing very seriously. Emerald gave so many of us the place and the community to often missing from the United States of Amerika. And we were pretty self-contained, and I don’t remember feeling deprived of anything. All that would change a few years down the line, but the first six or seven years were pure magic.
I did think of Greg and Cassandra and my Mom occasionally, but not in a longing kind of way. I wished I could tell them about my new life and ‘Sythia and Jerusalem, but I settled for the occasional, unmarked, unsigned missive.
As for my new family, I couldn’t believe my luck! ‘Sythia seemed to have ancient wisdom deep in her soul. I don’t want to make a list of adjectives to describe her. She was a mother and a goddess and a healer. She was wish, fierce, and playful. I gave myself to her completely, and have not regretted it for a minute.
Ironically, I think I felt about ‘Sythia about the same as Greg did about Cassandra. Years later, when we got together as old guys, there was a song that reminded me of our shared love:
Here’s, via YouTube, the version that inspired Greg: