At this phase in my life, being in Santa Barbara turns out for me to be in the right place at the right time. The early months are difficult and lonely and I often feel lost. Having succeeded in luring me to the end of the continent, Mark and Ann not only felt responsible for my well being, but for a while I also became their mission. Between them two, they initiate me into the southern California life – step by step. Introducing me to new people and new places, breaking me into hearty walks and health foods. Make me enjoy the nature and the pleasure of watching sunsets. We would take off and go up the mountains to Solvang, hang around Mark’s parents’ trailer house up on Lake Cachuma, go skinny dipping in secluded natural grottos. Eating fresh fish and get to appreciate California wines. They break me into completely new laidback lifestyle, devoid of what was until then for me go-go-go  kind of existence.

The house itself is small. There is a long driveway parallel to the farm right off Hollister Avenue that leads you to the small structure. At the back of the house is a fairly large greenhouse where Ann grows vegetables and they also grow their own marijuana.  There is  only one bedroom. The problem farm toilet with septic tank in the backyard. Not to mention 1975 water shortage of California with the consciousness hammered into everyone: If It’s yellow, its mellow. If It’s brown, flush it down. Even sleeping in the living room, I am comfortable. I feel welcome and wanted and loved. The house is furnished with bits and pieces of hand me downs or the garage sale stuff. Funky but warm and cozy. There are afghans and Indian bed spreads and lamps, all with some personal touch.

My wake up call would be Ann futzing around and getting the pot belly stove going before I would flip the covers over and start my day. Mark works for the city – running machines that process the human waste and Ann works in the evening as a waitress at the Italian restaurant Roccos in Isla Vista on the campus. During the days, she runs around, doing errands, keeping me company. In her spare time Ann makes jewelry from her own designs – (http://annstevensjewelry.com/) something she loves to do.

There is a bookshelf and also a bunch of books strewn all around the shelf, containing of the volumes of Tolkien’s Hobbit series,  Carlos Castaneda’s The Teachings of Don Juan, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the kind pegged by the book trade as “alternative lit”. The way books are left all over is just a mess to my organized mind, who has all his books and records  alphabetically shelved in neat order. Something that bothers me every time I look at the piles from my bed across the room. So one morning, while Ann is out running errands, I sit down on the floor, take all books off the shelves, line them up on the floor and re-shelve them in alphabetical order in neat rows. Suddenly the floor looks spacious and uncluttered, books accessible. Ann walks in while I am sitting on my bed and admiring my handiwork.

‘Hi, how’s your morning going?’ She greets me with her usual exuberance, and then suddenly stops in her tracks. Looks around. The uncluttered and clean floor, the organized bookshelves. I am waiting for her to crack her big smile and say something like: you’re such a doll. Thanks. Thanks very much. Rush over and give me a hug.

Instead, she looks at me a bit befuddled. Welling up on her face is restraint anger turning into a hurt look.

‘Did it feel good cleaning up? She asks and then pauses, to compose herself.

‘Its alright!’ She adds and works at softening the expressions on her face.

What I feel she most probably wants to say is: Why the fuck you do that? Rightfully so, because I have committed a cardinal sin of inadvertently violating their sense of order.

But she is not the one to dwell on such things, so after all, I do get to see a slight smile, crossing her lips.

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