The Road to Bliss

Harbor Springs, Michigan – April 2018

Out of all the places to work, how can I be here again? The little white church, the quaint storefronts, the historic homes. This town hasn’t changed at all in thirty-two years. Such a long drive from my forest sanctuary. I felt a tug in this direction, but ignored it, and then a closer possibility fell through. The general manager greets me with arms outstretched. A welcome home, long lost gesture. I’m hired within five minutes and we part with hugs instead of handshakes. I should know by now to not ignore intuition. There’s a reason why I was drawn back here.

A cinematic clarity infuses this new old life. Then and now become a double-exposed movie. Circa 1986 in grainy, pink-tinged VHS superimposed on 2018 in sharp, flat digital. Sometimes the ghost of who I used to be passes through me. The rage-fueled ambition. The impatience. My whole life was ahead of me. It still is. More than ever.

I work in the pantry, making salads for rich people. I work six days a week, sometimes double shifts. I’m saving up to move to California. I would’ve moved out there already, but my grandparents said seventeen is too young for a girl to move across the country alone. The waiters and waitresses glide through the kitchen, so elegant in their black tuxedos. Working, doing coke, and screwing around is all they have in their lives. I have a chip on my shoulder, they say. Angry little girl. What the fuck do they know about my life? My dad went crazy and school was absolute hell. Of course the stupid bitches here hate me. People are always going to hate me.

This establishment has changed in almost every way except name. Except for a cook and a waitress, everyone I worked with is gone. The tuxedoed elegance has been replaced by rumpled, disheveled indifference. The dress code now is to simply be dressed. I work in the manager’s office, isolated from the chaos of the restaurant below. My job is to arrange the antique boat cruises that leave from the deck bar. Captains and first mates are my closest colleagues. First mate Taylor is seventy-five. She swears like the sailor that she is. There’s nowhere to hide from her ice blue eyes.

She loves to hear stories of the places I’ve been, the things I’ve done. “What did you do for work out there?” I rattle off the jobs I’ve held since I was last here: fine dining waitress, massage therapist, secretary, stripper, travel agent, French-English translator, voiceover artist for radio, and, for so very long, English teacher. For three years, I had a country music show on Radio New Caledonia. In French and under a pseudonym. Listeners adored my heavy American accent. That one makes people laugh, but they are most fascinated by the stripper years. The Hollywood dive I worked in and my encounters with the famous.

Taylor shakes her head. “After everything you’ve experienced, you’re now stuck in that shithole of an office.”

“You know what? I couldn’t ask for a better job to reintroduce me to America. It’s seasonal, unique, and I work with the best people ever. I’m unbelievably grateful and happy to be here. Really.”

She shakes her head in disbelief and putters away.

In their corner of the office, the managers discuss figures and strategies. Problems with staff and customers. I admire their passion. Small talk about television shows, the weather, and small town drama. No politics, thankfully. The world is all I’ve got to talk about. It’s the mundane that’s exotic. I participate, but eventually my mind drifts off. Simple things have their charm and lessons, but there is also so much more.

When people ask me what I plan to be when I get to California, I say, Free. Raised eyebrows, eye rolls, snorts of contempt. I think my life will always be lonely, but at least I won’t be like them.

Spring morphs into summer. The interns become my buddies. They linger in the office when the managers aren’t around. They confide in me and ask for advice. As if I’m an expert on anything. Luke’s broken heart. “Someone better is coming your way. You’ll see.” Allie’s crush. “Just go for it. Rejection is much easier to live with than regret over missed opportunities.” The anxiety and excitement about their future. “You’re going to make mistakes. Just try to learn from them and move on.”

TJ is my favorite. Our conversations involve Syd Barrett and Terence McKenna and what it means to be crazy in a crazy world. He gives me hope for the future. He can’t talk about this stuff with his girlfriend. He wants to break up, but he doesn’t want to hurt her.

“You’re so young. You need to have your heart broken and you need to break hearts. If you’re sensitive, it can be harder to be the one to leave.” A searing pain moves through my chest. “But it has to be done. Wait for the one who lights up your spirit, who sees you. Who scares you so much that you want to run away. That’s the one who will make you grow.”A flash of her face, of them together. “You have such an amazing life ahead.”

He beams as he strides out of the room. “You’re such a bright person, Julie. A light. You’re awesome.”

I lean back in my battered chair and stare up at the watermarks on the ceiling. I am the person I needed all those years ago.

He calls me his little witch, because I remind him of Stevie Nicks. He’s twenty-six and works as a cook. We were friends, but when I turned eighteen things between us changed. He’s only my second boyfriend. When he stays the night at the cottage, he picks wildflowers and lays them all over me before I wake up. I didn’t know that love could make everything bad melt away.

The things I pretend not to see: the stifled snickers and smirks that the waitresses shoot in my direction. The lingering touches they give him. The photo of his ex-wife that he keeps on his bedside table. She’s little, like me, and has long, beautiful hair and big blue eyes. A doll’s gaze, flat and filled with menace. When she calls, he goes running. When he returns to me, eyes wild with pain, he shows me no mercy.

In the quiet mornings before work, I walk out to the end of the pier. Vessels of various sizes float on the placid water. The transients that arrive with summer: the high-ranking politician, the rock star, the old industrial money, the wayward souls on the way to someplace else. I dive deep and conjure up a face from the watery depths of memory.

He’s sat in my section every day since he’s been here. Red hair. Soft-spoken. Eyes fierce with determination. He’s about to sail around the world. The night before he leaves, he invites me to his sailboat. I am also leaving for my destiny, California, in a few days. He makes margaritas, the kind with Grand Marnier. He remembered that it’s my favorite drink. After a couple of those, we say fuck it and drink straight from the tequila bottle. We bray along to the radio until the other boaters scream at us to shut up. I decide that if he makes a move, I will let him. Anything to kill the pain of my shattered heart. But he doesn’t lay a hand on me, except to give me a big hug goodbye. The next day, his boat slip is empty. A gaping void. Farewell, sailor. See you at the edge of the world and beyond.

County Road 77 heads north out of town towards a village called Bliss. Follow the signs. Destination: destiny. There’s something special about this area with its farms and bogs and impenetrable forests. Deep rolling hills ripple across the landscape. They’re called moraines, created when the glaciers from the last ice age receded.

The bliss that has taken hold of me these past few months. Effervescence like a pleasurable itch. Is it possible to have too much? When it ebbs away, I’m relieved. I don’t ever want it to stop being special, and I know it will be back. Primary emotions have transformed into subtle shades. Not faded. More precise. Fear, anger, and sadness have become uncertainty, discouragement, disappointment. The intensity is still there, but I rule it rather than the other way around.

In September, just weeks away now, I will turn fifty. Half a century. How is it possible to feel younger than I’ve ever felt, on all levels, even physical? My mother tells me that I remind her of when I was a little girl. My family and friends say: You have never looked better. Something in the way you carry yourself. Radiant. My God, what happened to you? It’s almost like you’re not even you anymore.

I’m more myself than I’ve ever been.

At the four corners village of Stutsmanville, I stop and look left. Do I really need to go down this road again? It’s shorter if I continue forward, but I’ll miss the most scenic area. Maybe there’s still something to be learned here, even after the forgiveness, the forgetting, the indifference. Will I even recognize the house after all these years?

We walk in the woods behind his place. Birch trees rise from the deep snow. A prison of white. Heavy boots under my waitress uniform that’s two sizes too big, but still the smallest one they have. Tears freeze on my cheeks. Why can’t those bitches just leave me alone? I can’t take it anymore. I’m going to California. He leans me against a tree and kisses me until I’m breathless. You can’t go. I’m not finished with you yet.

Stutsmanville Road ends at M119. Right turn into the Tunnel of Trees, one of the most picturesque roads in the state. A cathedral of green overhead. In the autumn, it’s like driving through a tunnel of fire. In the winter, after a snowstorm, it’s like passing through the gates of heaven.

Winter becomes spring then summer. August. The flicker of a bonfire against an aurora borealis sky. He’s there, in the shadows, making out with one of the summer transients, a fatass with crooked teeth. I grab his arm and drag him away. My frantic scream: Why? He throws me to the ground so hard it knocks the wind out of me. He stalks away. Over his shoulder, a snarl: get out of here, Jules. Her laugh. I pick myself up and dust myself off. The pain becomes cold determination, relief: nothing is holding me here anymore. A door in my heart slams shut. No one will have access to that part of me. Ever again.

Strobe light flicker of sunshine on the windshield. This deep blue ocean of a lake. My heart blooms in my chest. I enter into communion with the road.

We park by the ocean. Cold shimmer of waves under moonlight. We’re going to start all over, Jules.

I’m moving to Palm Springs.

Panic enters his voice. I can move there, too.

I shake my head. I’m not doing this to hurt you.

I know. I know. I really fucked up, didn’t I? He puts his head in his hands and begins to sob.

I stare at him. A shadow slumped over in defeat. Why is he so upset? He didn’t want me. Why is he even here? It’s just going to be the same thing all over again. Does he think I’m stupid? A wave hits me: disgust so strong that I swoon. He makes me sick, sick, sick. Why do I feel this? I don’t wish him any harm. The air thickens and I gasp for air. Take me home.

It was his self-loathing that I felt. All the women in the world wouldn’t have been enough to fill the void she left behind. There’s no pain more devastating than that of a broken heart. And nothing more difficult to forgive yourself for than loving so much.

At the village of Good Hart, the VHS halts. Now it’s only now.

Unbolt the door. Throw it wide open. After a lifetime of witnessing how selfish and cruel people can be, this takes the rarest form of courage. Shine the light in. Shine. Pour yourself into your void.

The ego will do whatever it takes to avoid dissolution, especially into love. It will find excuses why it won’t work, tell you it’s too good to be true, and, when it gets desperate, make you think that you’re losing your mind.

I walk over to the general store. A withered old farmer holds the screen door open for me with a shy smile. Faded overalls, John Deere baseball cap. I pause. Such a pure Americana image, surreal in its perfection. The door closes behind me. “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd begins to play over the stereo. I freeze. My song, the one I named my blog and memoir after. I’ve heard it so often these past few months. I grab a lemonade from the cooler and walk up to the counter. The beautiful, unsettling longing. The come back to me. I pay for the drink and walk outside. The song’s final notes seep through the door. Deep breath. I’m here. I’m here. Look to the right: the direction I came from. Then left: the direction I’m going. I walk to the car feeling both harassed and guilty. Always the distinct impression that I’m being messed with and that I’m somehow bringing it on myself.

Onward. North, still. Through Cross Village to Sturgeon Bay. I sit on a low dune and watch the sun’s languid goodbye.

Some of us come into existence with a lot to learn. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve picked myself up and kept going. Even if it was crawling through the murk. The traumas have been dispelled. No counselors. No teachers. No gurus. They might be able to trigger something, but the real work can only be done in solitude. The black abyss that held me prisoner for most of my life is gone, gone, gone. In its place is a field of wildflowers. I couldn’t find it again if I tried. The darkness that remains is black smoke that thickens and dissipates. Wastelands of pain. Dark wonderlands of ecstasy. Not always easy to tell them apart. Wisdom and guidance can be found in the most unlikely places.

Reflection on the waves like a path illuminated. I will follow wherever you lead me.

I pass by the turnoff to Bliss. One final place to visit first: Wilderness.

I swerve around the camper that’s blocking the way and pull up to the ranger’s station.

The ranger’s eyes light up when he sees me. “You look like a lady who knows where she’s going.”

I roll my eyes and laugh. “Not really. I’m just following the road.”

“Follow it all the way to the end. There’s a nice beach out there and you’ll have it all to yourself.”

The Caribbean glow of Lake Michigan in the noontime sun. I lean my back against a piece of driftwood. Waves hiss through the pebbles. A male figure shuffles in my direction. Shirtless, sunburnt, panting. Face contorted with castaway anguish. Heavy southern accent. “Is there a trail back to the road around here? I seem to have gotten myself lost. I tried to cut across the marsh. Now my boots are soaked.”

“You’re almost there. The trail is just past the parking lot.”

He thanks me and shuffles away. When I look in his direction a couple of minutes later, he has already vanished. It doesn’t take long to find your way back, once the way is clear.

What was nebulous begins to sharpen. A purpose. A path. A presence so familiar. My heart begins to pound. I stare across the water. Send out a signal. Not an SOS. An invocation. Echolocation. I close my eyes. I’m here. Out of the silence, a reply. So very faint. It fades and returns. I smile. Not a missing piece. The mirror of my existence. A voice in my dreams. The flash of a face, but when I focus, it’s me that I see. A golden glow, a feeling of home. I lift my hand in front of me and feel the warmth of a palm pressed to mine. It’s enough to know that you’re out there. I’m enough.

Sometimes you have to go far out of the way to get where you need to go. Just keep going.

To Bliss. And beyond.

89 thoughts on “The Road to Bliss

  1. What an amazing road you travel and have travelled. I love the way you describe then and now as a double-exposed movie. And, isn’t it interesting how we somehow to return to the place we couldn’t wait to leave? I have done the very same thing.

      • I read this quote in an article this morning. It pertains to that journey which brings us home; “And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long, but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.”

        ― Wendell Berry, The Unforeseen Wilderness: Kentucky’s Red River Gorge

        I know a little about Wendell Berry but have not read much of his work. I expect you will be familiar with his writing.

  2. Spellbinding writing, absolutely loved this post.

    Especially the part about the tunnel of trees over the road – “A cathedral of green overhead. In the autumn, it’s like driving through a tunnel of fire. In the winter, after a snowstorm, it’s like passing through the gates of heaven.”

    But all of it really. Thanks for writing.

  3. I could fill up your comment section with questions and thoughts. But the main one is whether “I’m here” is the beginning of the end of “wish I were here”? Or is there always more “here” there as we move through life? Your brightening, the dissipation of the black smoke, the fading of strong negative emotions (and on and on) would suggest that you’ve arrived somewhere pretty wonderful, and isn’t life just the biggest whack upside the head that that place is essentially home? I am feeling those strings these days myself, but I can’t do it … yet? My running has not been as far or as deep, but neither were the things I was running from, so I don’t feel that sense of urgency in either direction. As always, you have woven a fine tale, and the optimist in me feels so happy about your U-turn. We need a good sit-down at some point! 🙂

    • That’s a good question. I think there’s always more « here ». At least I hope so. Or else what else are we supposed to do for the rest of our lives? Yes, I’m in a very good place now. The darkness will never be totally gone, as is normal. Otherwise, again, what would I do for the rest of my life? I don’t want it to be totally gone. It still sucks when stuff needs to be dealt with, but the thing that has really changed is that I no longer take it personally, and see it as a lesson. Or at least try to. It’s easy to say now that the bliss has returned after a summer filled with confusion and agitation. We will have a sit down one day, for sure. 🙂

  4. Terence McKenna/Syd Barrett Yin/Yan Openings/Closings Beginnings/Endings
    You are a gifted poet and an angel. I hope someday to enjoy a Grand Marnier Margarita with you: It’s my favorite drink, too! What a small world. What a big world. World without end. Do they still have BlissFest? I got to see Richie Havens play there back in the early nineties. Now, people are thinking about a 50th reunion Woodstock. What a frightening thought.
    Thank you, Julie for the memories, hopes, and dreams.

    • Dammit, Chuck. I love you, my old friend. You are such a big part of my memories of that time. Memories in glorious Technicolor. You, Jim, the others, that house. I drove by it the other day. So weird. Blissfest still exists, but I’ve never been there. 50th réunion Woodstock…ouch. We’ll have that margarita one day, for sure.

  5. ‘Sometimes the ghost of who I used to be passes through me’ – I love this line, and in every word you’ve written, I can feel that ghost alongside the person you are now. This is a wonderful piece of writing – powerful, visceral, accepting and hopeful.

  6. Looks like a genuine slice of paradise JD! Learning so much more about Michigan, and all it has to offer. I always pictured it as a few main cities but the wilderness is impressive. Rocking post!

    Ryan

  7. Great storytelling and images as ever, Julie … and you had your own country music show, now that is impressive! Good to see and hear you on Instagram – keep well and best wishes, R (I must get back to WordPress soon).

    • Thanks, Robin. Yep, I had a radio show. Had no idea who the artists were, the script was written for me, but I faked it pretty good. Hope to see you back here soon. Take care🙂

  8. “I lift my hand in front of me and feel the warmth of a palm pressed to mine…”
    Absolutely my favorite line!! I can feel your emotions all through this piece! You are such a gifted writer, Julie and your friendship is truly one of MY greatest gifts!!

  9. That’s quite an account of the journey you’ve taken, and the juxtaposition of past and present is fascinating, as always. “I am the person I needed all those years ago” – that’s quite profound.

    The trouble with the road to bliss is that you don’t know you’re on it until you get there. Unlike the road to hell (spoken in a broad southern accent – yes, I remember that post, too) which is often too obvious. A great insightful read, as usual.

    • The road to hail! 😂 That’s right I did lead readers down that one, too. We all need a little hell to appreciate bliss. It has been a profound experience to interact with the young people at work. There was a bartender, a young woman of 21, whose intensity reminded me of myself. She was not going to let anyone, not even society, rule her life. Like the others, she has moved on to the world. Summer season is over. It’s so quiet now, but I will most likely be moving on, too.

  10. Hello Julie,
    great post and great words …and i feel with you…gone back (last year) to the dreamtown where i meet my first love und lived my youth…but everything changes during the last 30 years…i was a stranger and the town no more my love…empty streets full with memories… very bad moods…but it was ok…may be i changed too ….in the last 30 years….
    Best regards, Jürgen

  11. I am new to your blog. My grandson shared his experience with meeting you this summer and thought I would enjoy your writings. Indeed I do! You made an impact on his life that makes me grateful and hopeful. Thank you for sharing your outstanding life adventures! Looking forward to many more!
    Sincerely,
    Jill

    • Hi Jill. Thanks so much for stopping by. So good to hear that you feel I influenced him in a positive way. He is a unique individual who also left an impression on me. One of those souls that I’ll never forget. Warm wishes-Julie

  12. You can’t fight synchronicity Julie. It always gets its way. “Some of us come into existence with a lot to learn,” and some of us, like me, still have a long way to go. I was recently feeling frustrated about how many lessons I haven’t mastered yet. But, your poetic insights tell me otherwise.

    • Synchronicity and intuition seem to work together. There’s that internal tug in a direction, and then the external signs manifest. It’s up to us to follow them. Or not. Depends on whether we want to make it easier on ourselves or not. 🙂 Makes me wonder how much of our life is really up to us. I’m certainly no master at it, but it does feel so good to have overcome the really dark stuff. Just keep going. You’ll get there.✨

  13. Something in your writing of late is like a light over the water, a beacon that ghosts across the distance and shrinks the gap to nothing. But still leaves me in delicious solitude. I just know I’m not the first one who’s been here. It’s like hand prints on the wall of the cave.There’s a spontaneous joining in the places where no things meet, and something in me remembers–breathes deep. Listens.

    I love the way you move back and forth in time, how time bends back upon itself. And I enjoyed discovering your short Instagram video, too. I’m happy that your happy, happy that the world has softened, happy to be illumined by this gentle light…

    Michael

    • Thank you for these beautiful words, Michael. I think we all know that place, but we’re taught to build walls to keep it out, or rather, keep us in prisons. Inhabiting the woods has really enhanced my connection to it. I try to share it as best I can so maybe others can remember it, too.

  14. A marvelous post, one that resonates with the forward movement of personal timelines and ever changing landscapes and locations. Reminded me of T.S. Eliot’s comment on our need to explore, to experience all of what life offers:
    “We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.”
    T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets

  15. So glad to read about how you’re happy with how you are and where you are at the moment… and happy birthday (by the way, we share the same month ;)). I really liked the “I am the person I needed” line. Do you think life would’ve been different, for you, had you met a “you” back then? Perhaps you would’ve evolved into something different?

    But, hey, we got to talk. Country music? Like in, Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus’ dad? Reeeeeally??

    • Hey Fabrizio- Thanks for the birthday wishes. Back at you. 🙂 Mine is next week.

      Hard to say what would’ve happened if I’d met someone like me back then. It probably would have helped to know that going my own way was completely acceptable rather than being made to feel like I was going to end up as a loser. This is what I tried to pass along to the young people at work. No regrets, I tell them. Times have changed and it’s no longer seen as shameful if people (not just young) change courses in life and spend some time traveling before deciding what to do. I really got a lot of “you’re not going to amount to anything” and maybe I haven’t in their eyes, but when I look at other people my age who obeyed, many of them seem so old.

      About the country music- Hey, it was good money! And a fun/funny job. I just read the script that was written by someone else. I had no idea who the artists were or how the songs sounded. It was all mixed in afterwards. I only know old school country, some of which I like. The new stuff that I’ve heard is so bland, like most new music seems to be now.

  16. Julie, this post is astounding. What a life you have lived and are still living. Tremendously powerful summation of where you have been and who you are today. How much I related when you state that now at this time of your life, you feel like YOU. I understand perfectly. To have worked through and lived those irrational and erroneous aspects of who we “thought” we were only to come out the other side to know with clarity who we truly are, that is empowering. Not everyone gets there. It takes courage and a lot of guts to do what you did and are still doing. I applaud you! 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

    • Thank you, Amy. I feel fortunate to be one of those who got there. Here. As you said, not everyone does. It takes so much work, and much of it is unpleasant. Even if there isn’t any trauma, there’s still cultural conditioning. Not everyone can see the need to disentangle from it. Much easier to live with the vague unease that something isn’t right. There are triggers and small windows of time to either make the effort to break free or sink back into toxic, but comfortable patterns. It’s so worth the effort.

      • The cultural conditioning is so vast that some days I couldn’t tell you if I have revealed all of that which was dumped on me. For me it is not easier to live with the unease and dysfunction. Not at all. And yes it is so worth the effort … freeing me.

  17. Amazing post. I finally feel caught up with all the mystery in your travels. And, I relate well with the way you followed your heart and instincts. I have spent the last seven days traveling through Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I met so many young people who opted for an adventurous seasonal job far from the familiar. Their stories and dreams pour forth if one only asks. Thanks Julie for sharing the source of your motivation to search … 😉

    • Wow, what a great trip that must have been. I’ve never been to either of those parks. I’ve heard a lot of negative things about the younger generation, but there are some who have managed to transcend that stereotype. Good for them.

      Good to hear from you, John. You know I don’t watch the news, but when I was checking the weather one day, they had a story about fires in your part of Oregon. Hope everything is okay with your home.

  18. I’m always amazed with the way you seem to be able to reach into your soul and squeeze out the feelings and sense of time/timelessness with mere words. It seems like an act of bravery to just dip in and lay it out there, especially as I somehow get the feeling that you’re essentially a private person. Impressive as always, in both words and pictures.

    • Thank you, Dave. You’re right. It’s not easy for me to reveal so much, but once I start writing, I have to let the piece be what it wants to be or I get blocked, which was the case with this one. It took a long time to write, because I resisted how far it wanted to go. So I guess it’s not totally up to me what ends up in the final version. 🙂

      • Sometimes it seems like the best stuff writes itself. And I suspect your writing may be a bit of a catharsis as well – maybe that’s one reason the world is looking brighter these days.

  19. This is a tremendous piece of writing, Julie. From your first photo, you give us taste of the Bliss you now know. And then your words tell us of what an adventurous and winding road it is to find Bliss ~ and it begins and ends with intuition. Your words are a treat, takes me through your emotions of decisions made and not made, your past: the anger, frustrations, and all along a plan to get out and see what you want to see, do what you want to do. Inspirational writing ~ and there are twists of happiness, struggle, a sense of danger and then most perfectly, bliss.

    After reading this, it all leaves me wondering and asking for more 🙂
    I agree with TJ, “You’re such a bright person, Julie. A light. You’re awesome.”

    • Such warm, thoughtful words, Dalo. Thank you. 😊Yes, it all does begin and end with intuition. And the bliss comes from complete surrender to it, following wherever it leads, even if it doesn’t make any sense, which it rarely seems to, especially at the beginning. The road eventually becomes clear, as well as the reasons for any pain that may be encountered along the way. I’m in awe of what the road has taught me and so excited about where it’s leading now, even if I still have little idea where.🙂 Wishing you a beautiful last few days of summer. 🌞

  20. Such wonderful intimate writing. The balance between past and present, exterior and interior, your current and your 17-year old self is beautifully judged.

    I have daughters who are a similar age to you when you were first working at the restaurant. I want them to have their dreams, to question me and to express themselves. So long as they remember their manners ha ha! Sadly, they are discovering they have to deal with the same kind of thing you did but you can’t avoid it. You have to learn how to deal with it.

    Loved the hosting of the music show. Sadly no-one has ever asked me to strip for money and it’s outrageous!

    • Thank you, Alex. Sorry to hear that your daughters are dealing with the typically rigid attitudes. Yes, there’s nothing to do, but learn how to deal with it, find the others like them. We are out there. Also important to be able to go it alone.

      As for you never being offered money to disrobe: you know they’re just jealous!

  21. Julie…such beautiful post.. to be what we are right now we should not forget what we were. Sometimes I “envy” your “free” way to approach things in life, I’m not fifty, but I can really see that You were like that also when You were young: just bliss, just ray of light. Beautiful!

  22. I feel like have walked a carnival, whirling and deep with moments of you. Moments of different colors and different tones; together they reach so many places outside and inside. A wish to go beyond, I think here there is the force of your will, Julie. It is an intimate point of view in this world quite intense and probably I could say that sometimes it has fueled me too.

    • I’ve often thought of my life as a carnival, the traveling roadshow variety. It’s bizarre and mesmerizing and, most importantly, amusing. So full of color. Lucky are those of us who see the world like this, even though it can be lonely at times. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts, Francis.

  23. This is actually my third visit to this post. Your writing is to be savored. It is not something that merits the usual ‘stunning pics’ (they are) or ‘moving story’ (it is) comment. This is definitely the stuff of a best seller and it leaves me struggling for words to express how awesome I think that it is.

    There are lots of parallels to my story. Not the same life exactly. Perhaps it is the seemingly similar youthful stomping grounds although we faced different demons. You could have easily been one of my school gang. One of our merry band of wounded misfits. Without those gals, I would not have made it to 25. Perhaps it is your adult awakening and finally finding yourself ‘okay’; becoming that ‘person you needed all those years ago’ and ‘more yourself than you’ve ever been’ that I identify with.

    Whatever it is, I adore your writing and recommend it to everyone I know, like a favorite book that it is becoming.

    And whatever happened to your circumnavigating sailor from long ago? Do you know?

    Happy Birthday. Am looking forward to seeing where your fools journey takes you this time around. Shine on you crazy diamond!

    • Lisa – Hard for me to find words, too. Thank you so very much. I can picture myself as part of your gang of misfits. That’s something I desperately needed in school. But the biggest lesson I’ve had to learn is how to be okay being alone in a world that so often does its best to suffocate nonconformity. And now I find myself not alone at all, and so funny that the internet has had so much to do with it. I’ve connected with the most beautiful souls, and it has taught me that I’m not alone at all and as a result, my connections with people in my daily life have become so much richer. I’m attracting an entirely different vibe now. 🙂

      I have no idea what happened to that sailor. But I can still feel his presence, so fierce and gentle at the same time. I have no doubt his journey was and still is incredible. There are some spirits that can never be destroyed, and you are one of them, too. ✨Shine ✨

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