We’re back from California, and I’m back on the East Coast now – but with my Inner Californian Hippie Chick (ICHC) in tow. This is not convenient – my ICHC, with her incense, her Buddha statues, self-help books, torn boyfriend jeans, love of vegetarian Indian curries, and preference for Bob Dylan, does not do well on the East Coast, on the outskirts of my husband’s corporate world, where they eat Californians for breakfast. My ICHC outed herself at a little metaphysical bookshop at the beach. We usually go there on our first day at the beach to browse, gong gongs, buy things we don’t need like an “Encouragement Magnetic Poetry Word Kit,” sample the essential oils, do a little Buddha painting, and set the groove for the rest of our week.
Ella and I immediately over-bonded with the woman who works there, a Shamanic drummer who took me aside and said she saw something “powerful and ancient” in Ella’s aura. I agreed with her, of course, which launched us into a huge big hippie-like bonding session. The Shamanic drummer lady and Ella hugged and over-shared with each other, and she gave Ella a crown to wear. Even though Ella seems like more of an East Coaster than any of us, and was born in D.C., she has an inner hippie too, and it’s pretty groovy.
The Shamanic drummer lady and I started talking about the loss of our fathers, somehow, and Amazing Grace came on her stereo played on the bagpipes. This was the very song we had a lone piper play at my Dad’s funeral, and my dad used to take us to that very beach every summer, so I got all teary-eyed and told her this. I told her how my father once brought bagpipes to this same beach and tried to play them on a foggy day in the sand. How I remember the fresh air that day, and the scent of a bonfire. And my dad. (How could anyone hear this song and not get teary-eyed, though?):
As I hiccuped and battled tears of missing my dad the drummer lady talked about synchronicity and told me it was okay to feel my feelings and just cry if I needed to (I didn’t – been on the EC too long). Fiona was doing some Buddha painting nearby and was listening to me over-share with this woman, and I could feel her rolling her tween eyeballs at me. Then – the Shamanic drummer gave me a mama bear hug! and – I hugged her back! This kind of thing never happens in Washington D.C.! As I peered over her patchouli-scented embrace I locked eyes with Fiona, my East Coast tween, who manufactured a dramatic look of disgust. I just smiled a big hippie grin at her, which made her look away.
It’s a room filled with shelves of tiny toys and the kind of trinkets you’d find in a cereal box. You ask your hippie self a question, like: “What am I doing here?”, and then you fill a basket with trinkets you’re drawn to and arrange them on a big sand tray. Then you can tell your story to anyone who wants to listen (Ella’s question wasn’t very metaphysical, it was just, “Will my mom buy me a horse?” – and her story about horses was so long she ended up taking us hostage with it so we had to cut her off). Fiona didn’t ask herself a question, just created an installment she titled, “Clutter,” which reinforced my worry about her tendency to hoard stuffed animals, but that is another post…
The Sandtray Room of Self Discovery is a lovely idea and we spent over an hour inside that little room.
The question I asked myself was, “Where do I belong?…Back home in California, or on the East Coast, or…?” The little figurines I was “drawn to” were Indians, teepees, little Buddhist symbols, and an ambulance. The truth is for me, I don’t feel like the East Coast is where we’re going to put down roots – and yet although my soul feels far more at home in Northern California, I’m not fully sold on the idea of moving back there, either. So where we settle remains a big question mark in the sand tray, but one we need to figure out soon. There is the possibility of my husband taking an international assignment in Asia at some point in the near future – another question mark. (BTW, I posted the question “Would you go if you were me?” about the Asia assignment on my Facebook page, and I was blown away by the number of people – over 100 – who said Yes, GO!. Please go Like my Facebook page if you haven’t already – it’s a vibrant little community of supportive parents…)
So…I learned that my inner hippie chick is still alive and kicking somewhere inside me, all she needs is a whiff of patchouli, a Thick Nat Hahn book,and New Age music and she’s right there. It was really hard to leave San Francisco, my soul’s home, especially the fresh air, and get back on the plane from SFO airport where they have organic produce and real food and hip, ambient music and a yoga room (!) (not that I do yoga, but still!) – to boring old Dulles in DC where there was no music at all. But I’m here now – dreading the grind of the school year, but knowing I’ll get through it with my inner hippie chick by my side.