Posted by on Mar 8, 2019 in Blog | 1 comment

Santa Barbara, Blue Sands, Manchester VT  

A bunch of things come to mind when I think of getting to Santa Barbara in’85. Staying at the Blue Sands Motel on East Beach is one, and the next morning going out at sunrise and seeing a pod of dolphins wrangling a young whale away from the beach to the open water. Standing on the grass next to the sand I knew I was in the right place. My vision quest was over. For the time being. I didn’t figure it out till just now that the young whale was me.

I think of walking down the dirt road from the cabin I was renting in Vermont near Manchester Center and that awful odor that dropped me to my knees. I’d been picking wild raspberries when this smell blew into me. My first reaction was that it was some nerve gas from a ruptured tanker upwind. Next thought was that I was dying. Next thing was figuring out which side my profile would look best when they found me dead. Next thing was I saw a small snake someone had run over, its guts squeezed through a tear in its side coiling in pain trying to get away from it. I welcomed having a pal for my journey. I was the snake. I didn’t know that then. We died together. But I got up and felt alright. Walked back up the hill to the cabin and lay down on the bed. Had a dream where some old gents told me about heading out, I’d been here long enough. I was to drive west. That was enough for me. i packed and left the next day, gave a call to the Russian woman who found me the rental. She was so friendly the month or so before driving to the turnoff, drove up a half mile and turned around. She was scared of me suddenly, big guy with a beard, dirt road far from the nearest town, no one to hear her screams for help. She didn’t say so but the flirtation was over for sure. We returned to Manchester in silence. I signed up for the place unseen at her office, drove back with the keys in my old green Cadillac. The one the garbage truck would shorten in Santa Barbara in a few months when I moved up the hill to a rental on Del Mar Street.

Manchester Center. People living there outside town were retired Washington. Starched, opaque, folded and laid into drawers carefully. Rich. Odd place. The Stepford Husbands. They all looked alike, spoke the same lines, played the same golf, drank the same drinks. Odd place for my vision quest to bring me. My cousin Tom Brockway was Headmaster at Bennington College south of there, I guess that’s what brought me this way, going by to see him and look at the girls. I fell into Manchester. Fell on the road with a dying snake. Was allowed to leave when I fell from the tomb. Two decades later I returned there with my new wife and had a devil of a time finding that road. The whole countryside was spooky, like out of a scary movie, that sort of setting, muted colors of greys and blacks and greens. When I found the road I began to feel like the Russian realtor and turned around more or less where she did. Something ungood was up that road. Maybe me, the one that didn’t get away. I felt so freed to turn around, telling Marilyn about the Russian and how I felt her fear and was so glad we were getting out of there. The cabin had fleas in the carpet I could see jumping backlit by the low morning sun. They attacked my bare legs, stalked me around the place.

The owner manager of the Blue Sands was a Vietnamese woman, only there a year. Iron Maiden they called her, the others in the neighborhood whose property she was trying to buy. While I was there she bought a motel on upper State Street at a bargain and set it straight. She had good rooms, charged low prices and stayed full. She was happy. But not so happy that she would smile. Still there was a calmness there. i liked staying there. i trusted her to bring me what i was ready for when it was time and then i would move somewhere else. This was the right place, the sister city of Santa Fe where I’d grown up. I came here in the 50’s when I was a ditch digger in Lompoc up the coast helping put in the Naval Missile Facility that later became Vandenburg Air Force Base. Visited my grandfather Laddie French who was retired Cavalry. He looked like a cavalry officer. He was glad to see me in the same way the Iron Maiden was. I was some proof he was alive. This time i didn’t even bother to call his widow. She was his second wife and didn’t like that he had another life and wife and child. She stared at me with glass eyes. They both may have been related to the Manchester Center people.

But the dolphins weren’t. They were having a fun time cowboying that young whale,  me laughing on the sandy grass and hearing their excited cries, the sun lighting the whole show.

One Comment

  1. Such an intimate sip on the events in ones life which continue to remain expansion due to eternal quest.