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Since the work happened over a number of years, it was written in a series of residences. Some of these moves contributed to long delays in finishing the book. The disruptions were just too much, and almost derailed the project several times over those two decades.
One location was a modest little house my partner and I bought in Portland, another one was in Sandy, and the last in Zigzag-Rhododendron, which is up Lolo Pass – on the north side of Mt. Hood, all in Oregon. I departed from here in the spring of 2010, with a young traveling companion, on the research road trip to Bethel, NY. This was a very necessary information-gathering expedition to wrap up the project with the site-present accuracy it deserved.
I never – that’s never experienced anything like writer’s block. Whenever it stalled, I’d switch to reading over what I had, and editing, and then the scene would open once again as if the projector had only been changing reels. I’d call my friend, Eadi and husband Bruce (Left), who at the time was a school teacher who lived in Portland, and I’d read the latest chapters to her over the phone. Eadi would ask: “How long did that take to write?” Or, “Is that the way it came out?” Sometimes, she told me it was hard for her to believe. (I’ll ask her if she would speak with you if you’d like to have her own recollection). Eadi became a serious fan of the story, to the point where she and her husband supported the project with time and yes, even financial assistance.
Why is this excerpt so emotional for you? And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt? Arien, our protagonist, was modeled on two lads I knew while working with teens whose backgrounds could hardly have been more at odds, but who both answered “Where would you go if you had a time machine?” in the same way. I met Jason at a group home where I was an on-call house monitor and mentor. This was an angry boy who came out of a perfectly horrible, tormented childhood, yet who I recognized to have had a sincerely good heart, and that “there but for…” he might have been, just as the Cullen, a proud volunteer for a national conservation program, who hailed from a model family out of a privileged world. However, their answers, immediate and certain, were nearly identical (as, it turned out afterwards, were so many others’). It was really eye-opening!
The rain drove in waves that lessened to a bare sprinkle and charged again in ferocious drumming drops, forcing him to slow down, as if that were possible without entirely stopping, so he could see. And then a moment's stark flashing revealed a world in its great halftone panorama; the shimmering, snaking road clinging to forested slopes in sheets of rain, the gray metal dash, the white of his knuckles on the broad wheel, dangling osprey feathers hanging from the rear view mirror, a glimmer of golden hair in the corner of his eye.
Incredible. You'd think the boom blasting through the air would wake everyone - but it didn't. They slept like sacks of damp grain. Andy snored a little. Otter wheezed. Jeff was invisible in his silence.
Arien yawned. The air was thick and humid. He could smell their bodies, especially the sweet one pressed against him.
“Only to be with you…”
Oh, Tina. His heart felt too full, like it would crowd his lungs and restrict his breathing. He tried to think back to how it happened; of when he knew. It was something he hadn't felt before, and it snuck up on him, a Robin Hood that brought so much floating good feeling to his poor soul he pitied the rich man it had to come from. He could not bear thinking what it would be like to lose that once it was tasted. His deepest dread approached when her Mom stole her away. It had to be the worst thing that could possibly happen. If it were not for Jamie Sun! Oh, in spite of everything, he acknowledged such incredible luck! God! So this was love! Am I really ready for this?
“Wow!” It was a low exclamation from behind him. He could feel a hand on the back of the seat and breathing push the sluggish air against his ear. “Are you okay?”
“If you see a place to pull over just do it.” Arien smiled to himself. “Who was Nike?”
Ellison stood with a motion for Arien to follow and together they made their way around the fire circle and the others there to a picnic table set back beyond a stretch of darkness. The table was covered with a red-and-white checkered oil cloth, starkly illuminated in the brilliant halo of a Coleman lantern. The woman drummer sat there by two other ladies with coffee cups before them and a stack of used paper plates at one end. They all smiled as Ellison with Arien approached.
I fell in love with a boy, which in the mid-60s was not supposed to happen; and, as with many of us in those days, I discovered Timothy Leary. One of those experiences serendipitously led to the Hellenic & Classic – through – Renaissance Era, Hermetic Philosophical Tradition of Western Magic and Alchemy. I’ve been following that thread ever since. I consider it the “Raja Yoga” of the West.
Over the years, I have resided in ten states: New York, Virginia, California – 2x, Hawaii, Vermont, Ohio, Arizona – 2 x, Florida, Oregon, and now Maine, and supported myself with hotel and restaurant work, framing and trim carpentry, cabinetry, woodshop, furniture and structure restorations, school teacher’s aide and facilities custodian; client projects, and consulting.
I have also been both an employee and a volunteer, leading youth programs – seven conversation projects at Richmond National Battlefield Parks, in Virginia, and one in Oregon for at-risk teenagers; teaching Adult First Aid & CPR; I served on the Sandy, Oregon Library Advisory Board, and was very active with the Portland (Oregon) Regional Group of the Horseless Carriage Club of America, and was President in 2015 and 2016, and after two, personally very involved years with the planning committees, directed this club’s participation in the One Hundredth Anniversary Celebration of the Historic Columbia River Highway, which was a state-level event, held June 7, 2016.
Hobbies are making “things of beauty” out of wood; restoring old stuff; keeping a 100 year-old car on the road – driving it year-round is the sport; writing; Facebook; and making meaningful connections with people.