What does this all mean?

I almost wrote 01. That was weird. Very strange. A little lapse in time? Hmmm…..I wonder what I was doing today in 01. That’s right, smoking weed, fresh out of high school, and looking forward to the college years to come. I never could have predicted being in the position I am currently in. Never could have imagined all the wild and wacky things I have participated in. Could not have fathomed gaining as much momentum as I seem to be running with. The force with this one is strong, especially because 7 years ago today, I had no idea where I was going.

It’s been a long time since the saying “Not all those who wander are lost” became generational paradigm. It probably started somewhere back in the late 60’s, somewhere along the Vietnam movement, where it was acceptable to sit around and smoke pot or eat hallucinogenic drugs in a crude attempt to gain an introspective eye. I used to play with the same notion, that a couple good mushroom trips will help me figure out not only what I want to do with my life (which at the time basically revolved around coming down off mushrooms), and who I am as a person. It was my firm belief that you have to completely lose your mind in order to find it. Well, I’ve lost my mind, friends, many a time. And only now do I realize it was not this “loss of Mind” that helped me to find it.

It’s all part of growing up.

At 18, young, fresh, excited for life, I packed up my belongings and headed south, to San Diego State, with hopes of becoming a business woman, with a degree and a piece of paper as proof. On the drive down, my X-Boyfriend rode along, The One as I lovingly refer to him, and we started to run out of pot right after we hit the windmills just outside Livermore. If you’ve ever taken the drive from Northern Cali to Southern Cali, you know that these windmills are at the beginning of the trip. Like hour 1.5 out of 8. My intentions were to smoke itty bitty tiny bowls so that we would have enough to get the whole way down. He advised we “smoke the rest of it” so we could get as high as possible in hopes that high would last the rest of the way down.

We smoked all the pot and kept driving.

I wanted to keep stopping along the way. Not because I had to pee, or really needed to stop. No, I just didn’t want to make it there so quick. See the problem was once we got to San Diego, I had to drop The One off at the airport so he could make his way out to St. Johns College in Santa Fe NM. Once we reached San Diego, the relationship as I knew (and loved) it was through. Over. Done with. And there is no turning back once you hit I5, no second guessing, no dillydallying. There is only highway ahead of you. Straight and narrow, to the point. And once you reach that goal, you have to make a decision that will effect the rest of your life. To drop him off at the airport or not. That is the question.

There was no question in it really, he had to go and I knew it. This fact didn’t make it any easier. Maybe even made it a bit harder, because I knew deep down that once we hit the grapevine, the San Bernadino mountains that separate Southern Cali from the great “wasteland” that is Central California, we were through.

We spent our last night together in a seedy hotel somewhere along interstate 8, the five lane highway that brings San Diego’s beaches all the way out to the Arizona desert. It was sad, and soft, both of us heading in such different directions. He always knew what he wanted, which is why I had such a huge thing for him. I mean, what 19 year old guy knows he wants to double major and triple minor and then carry on to dig up old bones from the middle of Egypt? No 19 year old I knew. And I had no fucking clue what I wanted to do with my life, all I knew was that a business degree is the “sensible” thing to pursue, and with it doors would fly open and I would be offered tons of promising jobs. Funny how things turn out right?

Well, here I am 7 years later, pondering the roads traveled, and the sites seen. Here I am 7 years later, sitting on my back porch, drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes wondering how this whole life I lead turned from fantasy to reality. I still remember the first day I choose to be Penny Flame. Well, I remember the first day I decided on the name anyway.

Buh Bleeze and I are driving east on the 8, fresh from the beach, headed up to San Diego State. I’m telling him how cool I feel getting paid to take naked pictures. I’ve never had any shame, never been shy with my body or sexuality, and was certainly never any good at holding things back from Bleeze.

Me: “I think I’m gonna use the name Penny Flame.”

Bleeze: “That’s kind of a weird name. Why don’t you go with something more porny?”

Me: “Because I’m not porny. I’m a nice freckled girl from the East Bay and I want a name that makes them think of a nice freckled girl.”

Bleeze: “I think of the Beatles when I hear that name.”

Me: “My point exactly. There is a positive association with the name, people will leave singing Beatles songs and feel warm and fuzzy. That’s exactly what I want. But I don’t wanna deal with legalities surrounding the use of Penny Lane, so lets switch it up to Flame. I smoke too much.”

Bleeze: “whatever you want my bleeze”

And that is how my life has run its course for the past 7 years. The way I wanted it to run. I’ve found myself, lost myself, lost myself trying to find myself, and in the end, not that this is really the end, realized that I’ve never been lost, or found. I’ve only been here. In this very moment. This one moment right now.

So what does all this mean? Does it mean that I’ve accomplished my goals without even setting them? Does it mean that I should keep looking for something better to become? Something more substantial to bring to the table? Does all of this introspective bullshit mean I can take a break and enjoy being Penny Flame?

It means that I have enjoyed being Penny Flame. It means that every second of the past seven years have been building upon another, stacking time upon time, minutes upon minutes, and that if we don’t enjoy every minute of our clock piling adventure, they will pass unnoticed, untouched, unfelt. None of the past 7 years matter. None of the past 25 years matter. All that matters is this moment right now, which keeps melting away like Dali’s clocks. Like sand through an hour glass. Keep your palms toward the sky little lady, you know the second you try and hold on to that sand is the second it will fall through your fingers.

That’s okay too. Just reach down to the beach, and pick up some more.

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~ by Penny Flame on July 30, 2008.

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