Daydream Believer

“You once thought of me
as a white knight on his steed.
Now you know how happy I can be.
Oh, and our good times start and end
without dollar one to spend.
But how much, baby, do we really need?

Cheer up, sleepy jean.
Oh, what can it mean
to a daydream believer
and a homecoming queen?”

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Weekend in Monterey #2: Ghost Trolly of Old Monterey

Last night, I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing a mixture of the finest camp and history this city has to offer. 

I had found a link to this trolley tour on the same page where a trolley wine cruise had been advertised, and was very happy I had clicked it. There were many pictures and accounts of how fun the tour was, and after a look on Yelp, I found many more accounts of people, young and old, who were enthralled with the guide leading the tour. 

So when my husband and I boarded the double-decker bus advertising the tour, we were introduced to Gary, the guide, and Clay, the bus driver, who were both instantly friendly. Gary invited us onboard, and we waited upstairs, me being totally giddy, for what we were about to experience.

Once we were finally moving, I noted with glee that the atmosphere was also setting us up for a night of fun – there was campy horror music being blared through the speakers, the bus was tall enough to slap into many tree branches, startling me to no end, and the way Gary told each story was chock full of typical horror treats. I was massively entertained the entire time, and really enjoyed how the tour went.

We mostly went to nondescript buildings in the area, some we had already passed once or twice during our travels to Fisherman’s Wharf and the Aquarium, but of course, the nighttime sky added a necessary sense of gloom around each one. We were treated to historical accounts of many early residents in the 1800’s, and shown places where many hangings and slaughterings had occurred. Each one was dotted with an exclamation point of how Gary had recently experienced some other paranormal phenomenon recently during one of his many tours. This definitely added to the overall camp and also instilled a little good-natured heebie-jeebieness to my experience. We were then allowed to explore for a few minutes at each place, where my husband and I found windows to peer in (complete with little orbs of light….computer lights, of course), and large twisted cypress trees that were extremely creepy in the darkness.

Finally, we were taken to a graveyard, where we were walked through and over many tombstones in order to find the grave markers of those we had learned about and other poor departed souls. I found this to be one of the creepiest parts of the tour, as I have never been a fan of graveyards, and felt all the hairs on the back of my neck stand up the entire slog through. I know better than to think anything paranormal was going to happen, but it didn’t matter, as I find tramping through the final resting place of so many old and recently departed people creepy as hell, and a little disrespectful. We were also taken by the San Carlos Cathedral, which was very beautiful to behold in the darkness. I have never really been more than casually pleased by the appearance of churches, but seeing it by moonlight was memorable, and well-placed on the tour route.

The entire time I was observing things on the tour, I kept thinking about how much I have been fascinated by ghost stories. All my life, I have sought them out. I read the basic ones when I was a child, and became familiar with the Woman in White, La Llorona (The Weeping Woman), and all the urban legends. I broadened my interest by consuming horror movies, and as a college student, invested time and money in Victorian ghost stories, and the differing accounts of the same ghosts that vary from region to region. I think what has me so fascinated is the same thing that draws me to fairy tales as well  – variation. There are typical formulas to both ghost stories and fairy tales, and I have always wanted to be a part of that genre. I think a good ghost story stays with you, and that is why everyone tells them around the campfire. The same goes for fairy tales  – thanks to Disney, fairy tales remain the favored kind of oral story told at the bedside of children. People are fascinated with the magical tale of morality, and this extends to ghost stories, I think. A reminder to “be good or else” that is begun in our infancy and carried through to our adult lives. Yet we like to push the boundary and engage in a kind of controlled danger through the viewing (or reading) of a good horror story…to remind us that we are alive, even if by voyeuristic purposes.

The stories of these people I learned last night, and their subsequent conversion from unfortunate history to cautionary ghost tale fascinates and inspires me. I leave Monterey with a returned sense of adventure.

Gary had cheekily warned us that the ghosts he spoke of often followed us home…… I guess he was kind of right.

Weekend in Monterey #1: The Marina

Today marks the third day I have been in Monterey, California. I have never been one for writing during vacations, despite many attempts in the past, but I am proud to say I am still here and willing to detail before I make it back home.

I think part of my issue is that I tend to take vacations with others, so I seldom am able to really mosey around and find a cafe in which to write. Many people always tell me we can plan that in with the itinerary, but I know deep down that my inspiration is not compatible with that kind of planning, and so it’s nice to be able to lead by impulse and find my way to a French cafe just close enough to the Bay to still smell the salty air and enjoy champagne truffles and tiramisu. 

The first night we were here, I found a lot of clouds and a walk along Fisherman’s Wharf to mean exactly that – there were more people fishing than walking. It wasn’t until we made our way to Old Fisherman’s Wharf that we saw anything like I had expected, living close to San Francisco for this long: many souvenir shops, some filled with too much candy and delicious caramel, and of course, lots of seafood. 

One thing of note that keeps coming back is this man I saw while walking along the marina. We were about fifty feet from him before I took notice, but I saw that on this more deserted part of the walkway, he was very well-dressed in a suit and had a rather long, oily ponytail. He was carrying a large black portfolio case, like I had seen my artist friends carry back in high school, and more recently had seen businessmen and women carry for presentations. He was seated on a bench, hunched over, with a very forlorn look on his face. As we passed him, I immediately began wondering what had happened to him – had he just blown his presentation? Was he contemplating ending it all? I told my husband about it, and his first thought had been that the man was one of the Wharf artists, who had wrapped up for the day and was sitting back there away from all the tourists on the marina. It hadn’t even crossed my mind that he was anything other than this failed businessman, this Claude Rain as I had begun calling him. I wanted to write a little about him then, but by the time we found another empty bench, I was unable to see him anymore, and decided to move on with my evening. A momentary thought always arises in times like these – if I had been alone, would I have tried to talk to him? Would a difference in my company provide me with the strength to do so? Would things have turned out differently in this alternate universe of my life?

The Inside of the Rabbit Hole is not as deep as expected

I have awakened in many different places. Some chilly, keeping my feet firmly aware that the season is not a friendly one. Some loud, where children are the main agent in awakening the household, whether by calling my name, peeling open my eyelids, or snuggling with me before making a loud chirping noise. Some exceedingly warm, so much so that I cannot bear to lay beneath the covers a moment longer and fall prey to an overindulgent sun.

Yesterday, I awoke in a city where I plan to stay. And the differences were not monumental, but inside me, things had changed. Gone was the tranquil slobbering of another dreamless night, or the knowledge that I will someday go back home. This will be my home from now on, and the loneliness that people talk about having after the fact crept in on me through my chilled toes and worked its way to the back of my neck.

I am not alone here, and yet I know that there will be times when I feel nothing but alone. And while I know that I am one who is easy to please, I am also quick to abandon all peace in favor of another’s company so I do not feel so dreadfully alone.

I took a photo yesterday of a sunset I experienced while clomping around through nature at a state park. I had not realized how beautifully serene the lack of urban streets could appear while I was nestled deep in the technological swarm of the Apple world.

“If you were here beside me, instead of in New York. . .”

I’ve begun and ended so many different catalogs of adventures, and so seldomn do I ever ache to speak to the world. I am happily confined to the written page and never needed anything other than the vague text post on tumblr, or a bubbling brook gif when I’m happy and a sad rainfall gif when I’m sad. It’s all I’ve ever needed to share with the world, and yet I feel like it’s time to stretch my legs and express in the here and now. I’m clearing my throat, I’m itching with wanderlust to begin anew, and I am definitely full to the brim with experience with which to unleash upon the world. A new world, as one would say.

I have lived 29 years and 52 weeks in the same city. Sure, I’ve traveled, both domestically and abroad, several times, but the fact of the matter is I am a one state resider, and always have been. I’ve had options to live in both Florida and New Mexico, to varying degrees of safety and sanity, and I’ve chosen to stay here, in the Midwest. It was easy for a little while. I fell in love, and moved out on my own, cleverly believing I had made it. I even exacerbated this feeling of complacency by graduating college and securing a job in the exact major I had sought. Life was good.

Until it wasn’t.

They don’t tell you what to do when “happily ever after” happens and then disappears within 1.5 years. Where are all the stories about that? What happens to someone who has every single thing they’ve ever wanted, and then it’s just gone one day?

So it’s taken me five years since that day to figure out that I needed to leave the safety and security of ever after, and try to make myself happy again. I am happy to say I have pulled things back together somewhat, and tied to me those I cannot do without, and suffer the pain of those who have cut themselves willingly from my ties.

What remains now is how I will deal with my newfound adventure. I am going to California with my better half, and together we will make ourselves look like the successes we want to see in the mirror.