“To Have Not To Hold” was the eleventh track from Madonna’s seventh studio album, Ray of Light (1998). “I’m walking on a wire and there’s no one at all to break my fall. Like a moth to a flame, only I am to blame.”
I left Oakland Hills, California on September 14, 2023, at 11:00 AM.
As I pulled away from my 34th residence I did so without reservation. I knew that if I looked in my rearview mirror I wouldn’t make it past the California state line. I was leaving a really good friend and the best place I had ever lived in the 62 years of living, aside from the home that I grew up in as a child.
The main reason for leaving was that Ricardo was unsure of what he was going to do with the house once he completed the modifications. We had worked on the house for the last 3 1/2 years and he couldn’t decide if he was going to sell, rent, or continue to live there once everything was finished. Being a Gemini he was prone to changing his mind in the blink of an eye. This always left me feeling unsettled.
After my van was stolen in November 2022, the ten months that followed were very difficult for me. Even though I was able to use Ricardo’s BMW from time to time I found myself cooped up in the house most of the time and a walk to the store involved a 30-minute hike down a 700 ft mountain side followed by a short walk to the store and then a strenuous, steep hike back up the mountain. The worst part of it all for me was not being able to get to the gym on a regular basis. It had a negative effect on my mental and physical health. I had devoted thirteen years of unconditional love to our friendship but it was now time for a change. I had no other choice but to leave and it broke my heart.
I stayed overnight in Palm Springs before continuing on towards The Transfiguration of Christ mountain in Phoenix, Montezuma Well, and Hopi land on Friday, September 15.
I arrived at Hopi around 6:00 PM. As I crossed over onto Hopi Land I saw a beautiful rainbow and rain poured down from the sky. I could feel Ahote’s presence.
And as soon as I walked in Tuwa’s front door she said “Welcome Home!” I was so happy to see her and to be back at Hopi. I missed Ahote instantly. It had been five months since his passing. Tuwa spent the next hour catching me up on everything leading up to his passing and then she filled me in on everything that took place with their son who died a couple of years earlier. The visit was bittersweet, to say the least, but I felt very much at home.
As I left Hopi I drove by Ahote’s and their son’s gravesites, threw them both a gentle kiss and a wave, and headed towards Holbrook, Arizona for the night. Tears rolled down my face most of the way, my heart completely broken once again.
I spent the next several days driving through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Tennessee before finally arriving in North Carolina on Tuesday, September 19. The worst part of the long drive was being pulled over in Tennessee and having my vehicle searched for drugs.
Once I arrived in my hometown I got a hotel for the night and spent the following morning visiting the house that I grew up in, my parent’s gravesites, and my mother’s baby brother. My Uncle Jack was now 89 years old. He and I visited for an hour or so and then my sister’s husband showed up and the three of us went to lunch. After we had lunch I drove to my sister’s daughter’s job to give her a quick hug and a kiss and then drove to Greensboro, North Carolina, to do the same thing for a friend that I had known since the 1980s. It had almost been three years since my sister died and I couldn’t bring myself to visit her home on this trip. I would have to face that on my next visit.
I set out for Wilmington, North Carolina.
On my way to Wilmington, I stopped by Tabor City, North Carolina to visit my birth father’s gravesite for the very first time. I arrived shortly after sunset but I had no problem finding his grave. As I stood by his headstone I noticed that the new moon (representing mother) was on the western horizon, and the planet Saturn (representing father) was to the east.
After three years of patiently waiting for the Universe to provide me with the means necessary to pay respects, I was relieved to finally visit his grave. All of the stars in the night sky made everything feel as though everything was in divine order.
I said my hello and then my goodbye and set out for my 35th residence.
I arrived in Wilmington, North Carolina, an hour and a half later unpacked my rental car, settled in, and went to bed.
I reunited with my 60-year-old niece after she got off work the following afternoon. The last time we had seen each other was five years earlier when she came to Arizona to visit me during Christmas. It was so good to see her again. After a quick reunion, we followed each other to the airport to return my rental car and then went to watch her grandson play football. We had dinner after the game and I went to meet her family for a short visit. Our visit was awesome.
The following day I changed my address on all of my accounts, signed up for Social Security, and started looking for a part-time job.
I had lived out west for eighteen years and left pieces of my heart in some of the most amazing places, but it was now time to focus on family and friends in North Carolina and this made me very happy.
I sent Tuwa a text message to let her know that I had made it to North Carolina safely and Ricardo and I spoke on the phone every single night.
Thanks to my friend, Scott, for funding the trip.