I registered the plates the same day and the next day I took a written test and now had my picture on a Vermont driver’s license. Vermont plates and a Vermont license, just as if I intended to stay here. Though this was really just a scouting trip. And anyway I wasn’t sure what I would live on, but that had never held me back before. Maybe it was time to stop, think about a new life, as opposed to this intense probing into the past of these last nine months that had taken me out of what had seemed like a terminal depression and already changed the landscape of my life.
Till now it felt like I had to go into the belly so the beast. What had seemed safe and good from the place I came from was buried now in the certainty that that place, though I did not have absolute proof yet, was a place that was not safe for children. And probably no one else either. I did not have what my new friend Michelle – daughter of a psychopathic therapist who has became cult leader – called “the visuals.” What had happened. Just what it was. She needed the visuals. What had been done to her. And I did too, because for the first time I was penetrating the darkness in my life’s landscape. But maybe for the moment I could pull back, look around, enjoy this place in which I was a new licensed driver.
And I had this car, this shiny aqua Mustang with the chrome horse on front that I had just bought on the spur of the moment. A car that had a story. A sweet young lady had owned it with her young husband, the very Yankee seeming garage owner said. And she was just too sad to keep it. You know what happened. I didn’t, I told him. He said that must be because I had not been around here earlier in the year. Her husband was a telephone lineman who had been killed by lightening and though she loved their Mustang it was just too sad to be in it alone.
Which made me feel that I had found the right vehicle, a place to contemplate the hard stories I had been bringing to light and was now thinking about setting aside. And it was also the right vehicle because it had a working tape deck, so I could continue retracing the music I would have heard if I had not been so busy in literal places dangerous on their own, like the head-hunter part of Borneo, or Darfur in what had been French Central Africa and where the wars never ended.
I put Judy Collins on the tape deck and heard her doing the songs of others that I had missed and realized I was as filled with longing as ever – and thought of women of my past, from Vannie to Ramona and Gillian to Anne – and felt that being alone might not be so bad, a little like taking a needed pause in the search. That maybe what would be best right now would be to spend time here in the gentle green mountains of Vermont, a state that had a liberal left government and was so hospitable to musicians and anti-war organizers, stay here in this very safe place – so different from what was across the border in the White Mountains of New Hampshire that had once seemed the most beautiful and even safe place in the world despite all the bigotry and the right wing politics and Yankee trickiness, for all year I had been retrieving the darkness, entering this very unsafe, cold and cruel and retrograde place, the summer people’s restricted New Hampshire, which now seemed to specialize in molestation, psychic and real.
I thought as I drove, up and down the foothills beneath the green mountains, along clear water rivers ruining fast over smooth rocks, past carefully tended fields of clover and other such soothing things, with good looking cows everywhere. The antithesis of the New Hampshire I came from and that I was only now entering with eyes open, entering in my mind. I drove and looked at the peaceful scenes around me – goats now, and now white horses – and began to wonder why I drove and drove and did not get out the car.