Letters from the road: Ruminating in Fortuna

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Stephanie — Here I am in Fortuna, California. The last time I was here would have been freshman year of college on spring break in 1999. I drove south from Portland with my friend Nico, and we stayed the night either here or a little bit up the road in the town of Eureka.

Now I’m here again and Nico is also out traveling, but he’s spent the year in Asia and Europe. Yesterday I woke up at a campsite on a bluff overlooking the Pacific and listened to a new track that Nico had recorded and e-mailed to me.

Back in April I was camped in the desert in Utah, and I opened and read a letter that Nico had written me in Thailand and mailed me from Malaysia. I’d received the letter a few days earlier, right before I gave up the P.O. Box at my old address — in fact I got it the very last day that mail could reach me there — and I’d saved it to read while traveling. I was four nights into my trip, and it was about the time that loneliness takes hold if you don’t shake it off, and reading his letter was nice.

That was kind of a long tangent. So now it’s thirteen and a half years since Nico and I passed through Fortuna, and I suppose it’s obvious that the passage of time is on my mind. Nico was the first person to point out to me that I have something of an adversarial relationship with time, and that I seem to resent its passage. And I think he was on to something. That was back when were just out of college, living together in a house we rented from a guy named Dave.

Dave was a neat guy, but all my memories of him were formed standing at the front door of his place, handing him the rent check. And so in my mind Dave will always be a fifty-ish dude who’s just slathered about a pound of highly aromatic cocoa butter on himself before smoking an ounce of pot and then being surprised to see me at his door.

That was also kind of a long tangent. I’m not sure where I’m going with this. But Dave was a pretty good landlord, and Nico was and is still a good friend, and Fortuna still isn’t much more than a brief stopping point. (Sorry, Fortuna civic boosters.)

I’m not sure where to take this without getting into boring personal territory. I guess maybe I should thank you for reading and tolerating this; this is pretty much what it looks like when I ruminate on “what am I doing with my life” kind of questions. Anyway.

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