Just a little paradise

Upon learning that another friend of ours swung both ways, Curtis commented, “Wow.  You know, almost everyone I’ve met since moving here is either bisexual or gay.”  “Welcome to the islands,” I replied.  

There’s something different about here, and it’s not just all those rainbow flags on everyone’s car, it’s more something in the Earth and the people around you.  People move here because they’re drawn to it, they stay because they feel protected.  My mother moved from the 1970’s Hollywood sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll scene to a tiny one-room shack, where she learned how to can fruit and how imperitive it is that you gather wood in the summer to prepare for the winter.  She came as a single mother with a two-year-old, and was taken under the wing of two aging farmers, who taught her everything she needed to know to survive in a wilderness setting.   “It was a bit of a culture shock,” my mother laments, 30 years later.

In the last few decades, she’s randomly run into almost a dozen of her old Hollywood friends in the village.  There’s a joke that this is the center of the known universe, pulling everyone to it at some point in their lives.

I was born here.  I grew up wearing second-hand tye-dye clothes, flashing the peace sign, and learning how to navigate through tourist season without getting my photo taken.  I never saw anything out of the ordinary in kids who had two moms or dads, seeing a woman bottle-feed her baby was rare, and serious crime was non-existant.  I swam naked in the Pacific ocean before I was out of diapers, my grandmother taught me to use a Ouija board, and my child psychiatrist acknowledged the fact that I was an empath and said he’d help me learn to create a shield so I could cope with crowds.   Mainstream is left to the mainland, I’ve heard people say.  

I think the tourists think we’re all nutjobs.  Hippies are synonomous with “flake”.  TV shows that feature characters who use crystals, believe in Mother Earth and attend peace rallies are depicted as ditzy and air-headed – and we’re really not that bad most of the time!  People carry that stigma with them when they visit from the mainland.  They peruse the hundreds of home-businesses with their wares out for sale in the farmer’s market, and comment on how quaint we all are.  Occassionally pulling out a camera and snapping a few candids.   “Look honey, real hippies!”  *click*

I could never live in a city.  I can’t be somewhere without being enclosed by forests, where I couldn’t see the ocean from almost any viewpoint, or where people are afraid of chatty strangers.   I was in the farmer’s market this weekend and chatted with a man who makes amazing necklaces, his first question to me regarding my impending parenthood was, “Are you having a home-birth?”  I laughed inwardly, because I knew if I’d said ‘no’ the next question would be, “Well why not?”.  I was told by three people how to increase my milk supply with herbs, and offered a sample of “mother’s soothing nipple cream” for my future breastfeeding efforts.  No one even asked if I’d chosen to nurse – because everyone knows if you’re native, you’re organic.

I love the people here, the wild personalities that you only find in small hippie towns.   The Buddhist often seen picking up litter in full garb, because even though he’s on community service for straight-lining, he still wants everyone to know he’s a Zen kind of guy.  The drug dealer with a heart who won’t sell to youth or people with small children, and offers information on addiction counselling.  The scitzophrenic with the afro who doesn’t take her medication and got kicked out of the PTA and barred from school property for screaming at a random 12-year-old that his parents were in a sex cult.   Sallie and Willie, two middle-aged neo-hippie buddhists who spend all of their time making stuffed animals out of Asian imported fabric and flax seed.  Willie has an IQ of 250, and if he lived anywhere else would be in a mental institution because of his eccentric behavior resulting from severe genius syndrome, but here he’s welcome and tends to draw all of the children in the market with his playfulness.

And then there’s the weird people…

I love my home.  I love that my children will be born here.  I love that when Curtis first stepped onto the soil he knew it was his home, too.  I don’t mind being considered eccentric, flakey and air-headed on occassion if it means that I have the freedom to wander the street at midnight in bare feet and a robe without fear of anything more dangerous then someone’s disgruntled cat.

I only wish these kinds of places could stay this innocent and pristine forever.

— Babs



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  • “I could never live in a city. I can’t be somewhere without being enclosed by forests, where I couldn’t see the ocean from almost any viewpoint, or where people are afraid of chatty strangers. “

    This is where I wish I could live. Perhaps one day. 🙂

    • admin says:

      Ah, my young naiveté.. I live in a city today, because that home of mine is transforming to become a tourist trap and it’s kind of depressing. 🙁
      Though I can still see the ocean.

      Part of why I hate going through my old entries is because it’s embarrassing for stuff like that. Sometimes I really, really can’t believe how sheltered and ignorant I was for a really, REALLY long time. Try not to hate me too much as you go back through this stuff. 😛

      • I don’t think you should be embarrassed. We all have wishes and dreams and ideals and values that we absolutely define our lives by… But they often change, reshape, and grow, sometimes without us even noticing, as we progress and develop as people.

        You certainly aren’t the same person you were 8yrs ago, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t love her any less- she made you who you are today, my dear. That sheltered and ignorant young woman, as you put it, developed into much more than maybe even you had imagined. 🙂

  • best_pirate says:

    I. Want. To. Live. There.

    Hi! I’m Rachael… I found your journal on my friend’s friend’s page and I liked everything you were involved in, your photography, your writing, your story.

    Anyway, I would LOVE to live in your area. I grew up in Ojai, CA near Santa Barbara, and that’s a pretty whacky-hippie place too. I loved it, and it’s great to go back there to visit. It’s also very naturally beautiful, and we have lots of tourists there trying to take pics of the crazy locals, so I can relate.

    Hope you don’t mind my looking around!

    • admin says:

      I don’t at all.

      The sad part was getting this entry in my inbox, along with your comment, and realizing that I did end up having to move off, to a huge city. 🙁 I’ve been in cities for two years, and it’s been some of the most depressing times of my life. I’m so far from the ocean it would take a day of driving just to glimpse it.
      In two weeks I’ll be moving back to the Islands. Not a moment to soon, I think.

  • kivioq says:

    I love this. Like ruethee, I am latecomer to your journal, and catching up on old entries. You have such a special sensibility that’s really a joy and very moving to read, and your passion for the issues you care about comes through so true and strong. I am a public health student (focusing on maternal, child, and reproductive health issues and rights) and hopefully a future young mother, so many of your entries strike a deep chord with me! I’m sure you hear this a lot (in the strange world of online lives and stories), but your entries make me wish we could be friends–there’s somthing so familiar and kin to me about them.

    May I ask which island town it is that you describe above? From what it sounds like I would love to go there someday.

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