Sunday, November 2, 2014

Animal Pancakes and Elton John

IT'S 1970.  I left home. I'm 18 years old. And when I say "left" I mean running down the driveway, chased by my Dad, jumping in the bed of my friend's truck, and watching Dad grow smaller and smaller. And when I say "left" I mean jumping scared with both feet into a world of possibilities. I spent that night on the floor of Tina's bedroom, staring at the ceiling, never happier.

I STAYED with Tina's family until I graduated from High School a few months later, and then, having just painted a mural in the school gym for the large sum of $150, I finally began my journey by answering an ad for work in Yosemite National Park. I spent half of my total net worth on a pair of desert boots and a brown corduroy coat to match, confident that I was armed suitably for a new life.

MY FRIEND Janet drove me to the park. Neither of us had ever been there.  We pulled into Inspiration Point and looked at each other, speechless. As we drove towards Camp Curry I knew better than to hope- it was too good to be true. I could be living in the most beautiful place in the world. Then my first interview– I was told that if I could be back by tomorrow I could have the job. I was screaming before I got out the door. Janet and I held hands, jumping up and down, laughing and crying and hugging.

I MEANT to spend 6 months in Yosemite, but it turned into 2 amazing years. I learned about snow, animal pancakes, Elton John, friendship, and love. And, oh, I painted. Every chance I got. Living and painting in Yosemite ignited something in me that has burned for many years. Having experienced magic in the world once, you can never go back to a life without it.