Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chico Adventures

As you know, Arian and I have chosen Chico CA as our first settling spot on the globe we know as Earth. Chico has been a unique respite from living on bikes and in the tent for us. After our arrival in this little gem of a college town (Population 80K) Arian was immediately accepted into the Chico Green School, an alternative public charter high school where they buy the kids I-pads and focus on creative individuality alongside the almighty curriculum. Arian of course already had an I-pad but that didn't stop him from getting another one for school work. They told him that if he graduated the school he could keep the I-pad. Arian was ecstatic and threw himself into his new world of teenage friends and wise teachers. How many 14 year olds have two of the latest groundbreaking technological innovations of the era?

The kid deserved them after riding his bike 1200 miles to get to Chico and also rides his bike every morning four miles through rain, cold mist, and icy temperatures each morning to school and back. In the morning he scarfs down a bagel laden with soy butter (Earth's Balance) and downs a small pot of steaming chai mixed with soy vanilla creamer. In school he has met lots of other interesting and talented kids and he realized they were like him - cultural creatives that don't fit into the mainstream - he had found his cosmic tribe of fellow geekdom! They were unique and different like him, each in their own ways. He also bonded instantly with all his teachers as they were all amazing creative types and scholars too. Especially his arts/science/music teacher. She was a master of the violin on the side and she began teaching Arian to play. He was hooked hard and begged me to use my power of manifestation to conjure up a violin for x-mas.

Instead, I told him he had his won power of manifestation and abundance within and could visualize anything he wanted in the higher realms and it would appear down here with a little dedication and a lot of elbow grease. In this case, I suggested that he put some muscular motion into writing a proposal for Craigslist and hope that someone would answer the call of a budding musician thirsting for an instrument to call his own. In our role-playing game terms, we figured his character was taking a devotion in Performance Arts skill during the adolescent phase of development, increasing his bardic repertoire to include the stringed instruments.

I also posted his plea to help an instrument-starved teenage mutant ninja performer on Facebook, hoping that someone out there had an old violin sitting on a dusty closet shelf somewhere. Within days a college engineering student dropped by the cafe and delivered a violin into Arian's keeping for a mere $30 bucks. He was overjoyed! Then an astrology client of mine in the Northeast chimed in saying that she would be honored to help Arian become a great musician and for a trade of a few future astrology readings, she would send her ultra-expensive Stradivaris-replica violin for Arian at Christmas. She had it looked at and tuned by a local Luthier and one day while we were sitting at the Empire Train Coffee shop, I was in the middle of a conversation with a lady about metaphysics and astrology, when Arian said excitedly, "Dad! I gotta go! Btetsky just messaged me on Facebook. The violin is here!" It's a wonder he didn't wreck his bike on the way home.

Turns out the violin's bridge and sound post needed to be installed by a veteran Luthier - violin repairman, and my friend who we were staying with helped Arian get online and locate one in town. The next day Arian rode to school with two violins strapped to his back in their cases and two I-pads in his waterproof panniers. The kid was doing all right in Western materialistic terms, true to his Capricornian nature. After school, he rode his bike south fo town to hunt down the Luthier and the guy only charged him $5 bucks to set everything straight and get that fiddle into perfect playing shape. The first song he learned how to play was called the Swallowtail Jig, (he likes to call it the Swashbuckler's retreat), followed by a Christmas performance with his fellow school musicians at the Banes & Noble bookstore. Arian played Joy to the World with his fellow female violinist.

Later that week he brought hoe his report card showing that he had straight A's, and had already worked his way up to the top of the class. He's motivated about learning and the teachers love that. How could they not give him an A after he shows up an hour early for school to work on violin and stays after school sometimes till 7 PM to finish his homework, socialize, and play more violin! Turns out the teachers let him drink hot tea with them on their breaks and in the classroom. He had me buy him packs of Awake and Chai tea for school! When most schools close, the children are clawing at the doors to be released into the world, a hectic tide of screaming children running for buses and cars. Not Arian. He just takes a deep breath, plops another tea bag into his microwaved hot water, enjoys another banana he saved from lunch, and settles into his chair to let the real learning begin. He ate a record nine bananas at lunch one day. He has informed me that there is no way he's leaving Chico, despite my stubborn commitment to locational independence. He says I can travel during the summer when he is at his mom's and during Winter break I could go down to San Fran and connect with people then to go visit on the weekends. Besides, he says, there are plenty of people to teach astrology to right here in Chico. The kid does have a point. But I mean to circumnavigate the globe like Magellan (even though he died in the process)!

I was torn inside because I had gotten used to seeing something new each day - new scenic vistas, new horizons, new towns, new people. After the first four weeks in Chico, I was already hungering for the open road. But it was freezing cold at night, so I appreciated deeply the opportunity to sit at warm coffee houses working on my astrological magnum opus. Everyday I was working on it for hours on end. I began getting a nice steady stream of astrology orders online again too, so money and food for the kid were back on the menu. I was relieved that I could pay my supposed friend Brett $400 per month to live in his cold garage with its icy cement floor. I did manage to manifest some cool furniture form locals. A random stranger I told about our living conditions said, "Wow, he's not much of a friend is he? Charging you to stay in his garage?" I guess he was doing the best he could given his situation.

After major life changes and struggle with his ex-wife and being forced to relocate to Chico from beautiful Hawaii to be close to his kid, I could understand his harsh judgement of my free-wheeling uncommitted lifestyle. he sounded perturbed by my notions of riding around the globe wandering where the spirit lead me to go to inspire people with astrology. He let me know in no uncertain terms that he was "setting up a HOME for his son, and that is I came there, he expected immediate financial contribution." So I acquiesced, despite feelings of betrayal, and paid the man his cold garage fee. Camping in the cold in November proved too much for Arian and I, so we threw in the towel while heading south to San Fran and took the detour to Chico for some winter retreat R&R. We rolled into town with 12 bucks to our names! I told my friend that if I didn't make money that week online, that we'd hit the road, no harm done - just a brief visit. We would enjoy some time together and that would be that. Arian and I would continue south.

As luck would have it (I prefer attunement to the cosmic tides), the online astrology orders poured in! I was able to pay him every week on Saturday. He was already complaining that I rolled into town on a Friday and tht he expected to be paid every Friday on time. We compromised on Saturday. I was already remembering why I detested living with him. He was so anal about the most minute details with his Virgo Moon. So the day before Arian flew home for x-mas to be with his other family, I put out a call to the universe for better living conditions. Even though I was paying Brett his blood money, he decided in the last week that I was unworthy of even speaking too. I guess his practice in mediation skills froze up. I don't know what I did, and I didn't hang around to find out after I tried to talk to him peacefully for the third time, and he just walked on by ignoring me. I got the hint. It was time to leave. I felt terrible inside. This was supposedly my best friend next to Christina, the wife back in NC. huh?

So there I was at the end of a 3200 mile bike ride of exhilarating freedom and liberation, and the two people who I considered my best friends in the world, male and female, had both given up on me, had both turned against me. It wasn't a delightful emotional storm inside at all. I guess the new person I was becoming was too small for the old life I had left behind. If Brett would have ridden his bike 3200 miles to my house back in NC and showed up with a shivering kid and 1 bucks in his pocket I would have let him stay for at least 6 months. You know help a friend get his life together. If Christina would have argued against my friend staying our marriage would have been in serious jeopardy. But I guess I'm fiercely loyal to my cosmic friends that way.

If they couldn't accept the ME I was slowly becoming I guess they wouldn't have a role to play in my path forward. Some people get very shaken when one leaves everything behind. I guess the lifestyle I'm pursuing does look irresponsible and unrealistic from the earthy practical perspective. But after tasting the freedom I've experienced, I'd rather sleep with the homeless people under a bridge than be a slave to the conformity of this insane society we've erected. Besides, if I was going to foreign countries it might be nice to be homeless as long as I had funds to buy food and it was warm. I don't wan to go to interesting far away places and stare at the white walls of comfort anyway. Homelessness in a foreign land began to look appealing to me. It would force you to explore more. The only thing I could see that was bad would be the possibility of someone stealing my technology while I slept.

So there I was the next morning ready to depart. I told Arian to take everything he was interested in keeping to school with him. We were not coming back. I didn't know where we would stay our possible last night in Chico, but I had some leads. I was determined to finish my journey to San Fran, even if I had to go the last frozen leg by bus. After Arian left for school with his bike loaded down and the rendezvous coordinates in his memory, I slowly packed up my stuff with tears in my eyes. Brett was in the room across the hall sleeping, still refusing to speak to me at all. So I opened up the garage door, and got on my bike looking down the cement platform that lead to the driveway and the street behind. I certainly wouldn't miss the noisy college kids screaming at 2 AM every night. I tossed the key to the garage on the table, lamenting the fact that I had to leave such a beautiful table, chair, and fold-out sofa behind. I had just manifested them and they were serene. But a person with attachments to large material possessions is possessed by them in kind. My vow was to own only what I could carry with me, despite the storage locker with all my books back in Colorado. When I got the chance they'd be given away, donated, or stored at a friend's house. But who were my real friends in this world. The two people that I loved the most, the two people that I had trusted with my deepest heart had both turned a cold shoulder to who I was. I felt like I could never trust anyone again. And at the same time I knew I had to trust everyone with an open yet broken heart. With tears streaking down my face, I gave my bike Magellan a kick, and we rolled on to freedom.

It was cold and raining out and my panniers were loaded down like never before. Seven weeks of living in normal society and I had already accumulated more stuff than I could carry. What a disaster! I rode through the rain disheartened and overwhelmed by the immensity of the world and the pressure of my visions and dreams. The world needed me to pull it together, needed me to thrive and harness the creative genius that had been stored in the fibers of my being. The next day, we would be heading into a new adventure. I told Arian that I didn't know if I wanted him to come back. He might have to stay at his mom's next semester. I was lost at sea in my fears. I pulled into a local coffee shop to write this all down on paper...it's taken me this long to post it... But it was an important part of the story. I guess the betrayal of friendship can also mean that you are moving into a new reality that they can't visit in their limited perspective. If I've learned one thing in this life as an Aquarian it is to be true to yourself and your individuality no mater what systems of conformity are pressuring you to fit in.

I checked my email and noticed a message from a cyclist who I had met outside a bike store named Jenn, a chico native. Turns out that her and her husband Todd, who was a Green Builder, had a room for rent in their exquisite house. It had it's own private entrance, bathroom, and furnished bedroom with a bed, a desk and a chair. And it was close by the Chico Sports club where I worked out and Arian's school! They'd be willing to reduce the rent from the normal $500 to $333 for astrology trade starting January 1st, and I could stay for free until then. A ray of hope pierced my faltering heart. Thank you universe. Arian would be overjoyed that we didn't have to spend our last night in Chico out in the cold camping in the wilderness. 333 was a magical number to me symbolizing the Grand Trine. It had made itself known in me brazenly back in 2007 when I was filming Return of the Magi.

After riding through the rain to Todd and Jenn's place near a beautiful almond orchard, I was amazed by the design of their house. The room was perfect! It was like moving from the desperate sticks to a luxury hotel and for a cheaper price. Todd was a fellow Sag rising renaissance man who had served in the Peace Corps in Africa and wanted to discuss me building a website to help fund the education of the children of the family he had stayed with in Kenya. I told him I'd be overjoyed to do it when I returned form San Fran on January 1st. The site is called KenyanEducationFund.ORG and you can sign up for 10 bucks a month to help this family of Kenya's go to school and make their lives better. Jenn works at the university as a research grant writer. They are both cyclists and avid environmentalists who appreciate Arian' and I's lifestyle of minimalism and cycling. It's nice to have friends who enjoy you again! But it's also a cruelty of this fixed world that people you love turn against you when you change. But I was inspired again. Two total strangers took us in in our great time of need. Maybe it was time to just clear the decks of old friendships so new ones could come in. The next morning Arian got a ride to the airport form one of his school friends to fly to the Gulf Coast home of his mother on Dauphin Isle Alabama. I got on the Greyhound with a single backpack headed for a 12 day adventure in San Francisco.

Arian was happy that his would continue on with his friendships and his studies at Chico Green School, and my traveling spirit was happy to finally be seeing some new scenery from the bus window. It was a cold and rainy day but I sat on the right side of the bus peering out the window at the rain soaking the shoulder of the road and imagined riding all those miles in rain and heat and spiritual adventure with my thoughts. At that moment I was happy to be in the bus for a change. Magellan and all of our gear was safe in Chico. I would meet Arian at the Sacramento Airport in 13 days... This Magi had 12 days of Christmas in San Francisco... I hoped to bring light to this vibrant cultural center! In my next post I'll tell you the story of what adventures transpired!

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