Teenage girl in flowered skirt
Feathered hair and feather earrings;
Ahead of her time.
No one knows that of course,
She is just weird.
Not a hippie, not a greaser.
Not into the Dead.
Just finding her way through.
Beatles as a kid, and lots of cool things.
First the Monkees, then Joni, and John Prine. Linda and Emmylou too.
Bay City Rollers? Really?
Okay, it makes her happy.
Mostly as a rebellion against her Deadhead siblings.
Changes in the mind and thoughts and body:
A hard rock stage, a new wave stage
Bowie, Ramones, Joe Jackson, the other Elvis, Patti Smith
Changes in the family dynamic: ALS
Her mother is dying.
She cannot stay to watch.
When twenty-one arrives, she goes
Life as an experiment in California.
Drum circles and lots of Bonnie: Raitt and Bramlett.
Roseanne and Johnny sneak in with Neil
Because it is the Mountains of Big Sur
A melting pot of transplanted Northern and Southern Easterners.
Musical influences like frenetic foggy air infused with electricity
Bouncing off the peaks and back to earth
To the conglomeration of dream seekers and dropouts
Dancing on the edge, so high over the mist
Dancing so high all the time
Deciding at last to come down off the mountains, to come down
And head to the small town of Cambria
Where 3,000 people live everyday lives
While Big Sur transients wander in and out.
Good folks, many descendants of Swiss farmers who migrated there
Many still farmers, simple and opinionated, but kind.
She finds her way to Camozzi’s Saloon,
And makes a home there
In the little apartment above
And works and plays and exists in the bar.
Her friends are musicians and DJs
And everyone there
Except those who don’t like her
Because she is ahead of her time
And tragically forever from New Jersey.
Bands play each weekend.
The scene is life itself
For all who sway together
To the beat of the new sounds
Billy Idol, Greg Kihn, Huey Lewis, Eddy Grant
Donald Fagin on the beach and late night drives.
The mornings are waiting periods for the nights.
Add cooking as a second job,
Telephone Operator for an answering service as a third.
But that is a cool job; hell, it’s all cool.
It’s Cambria, and Joni has nothing on her with Morgantown.
Walking through the pines in the eucalyptus air,
Singing out loud
No one cares
Because they are singing out loud too.
The Christians slightly push for attendance
By being very welcoming and having lovely tunes.
She walks by their churches on Sunday mornings
And for a time, her songs change to theirs.
It’s peaceful and laid back being a West Coast Christian
They eat brunch at the Moonstone in San Simeon
After they build up the Holy Spirit during service.
Soon though, she turns away from their endorphin highs
And returns to the bar and the bands
And the sweaty dancing nights.
The rockers eat brunch in town en masse
They are hungover
But champagne with strawberries makes them feel better about
Who they are
And she is one of them
She has always been one of them.
Wrong turns keep bringing her back to Jersey
To the life she never wanted to live
Running running running back to the West
Bouncing back and forth across the country for years
Between happy poverty and comforting sadness
Until her father dies
And she doesn’t bounce anymore
But becomes resigned to her East Coast fate.
Her travels have yielded a bastard
A son who calls himself a bastard and laughs
He is dragged into and through it all.
After many drugged and drunken stupors
And abusive men
She sends the boy away
She must save him from her life.
A frantic foggy mind that cannot find its way back
And fears it all may dissolve
Lost child and childhood.
But when the fog lifts
She finds her sobriety
And keeps it.
A new start to her old life.
She is no longer weary and heavy laden
And doesn’t need that scripture to find comfort
The comfort is within herself.
The inside girl returns
And she realizes she has always been there
Waiting and singing.