So I had heard that there were a bunch of Jews and hippies that gathered togethere in national Forests. I heard there were girls and for me that was a major attraction. I figured, If I was going to find a girl that I would like, whe would be stoned and lost walking barefoot through a national forest, with no intention in mind other than to know the color of the wind. I had move to LA a couple years before. the dream of the clear blue ocean and sun tan locion on hot spicey bodies had lured me but now I had grown weary and tired of the planes flying over head and the congestion of cars running to the beach down Lincoln Ave. I needed some quiet. I didn't realized that the beauty of the water was not filling my need for quite while so many people (including me) strove for vanity and to escape the thoughts of the present moment by meandering towards the promises of the next.
It was wednesday afternoon. I had to decide fast. I heard that the most important part of the gathering was on shabbos. I had 36 hours to make it into North Eastern UTAH. I had a great desire to be with people of my kind, blind to the fact that they may be next door. I had to head the forest. I was lost in the imagination of the beauty that will be.
I made a fast and good decision to dump my guitar in a shul I knew so I wouldn't have to haul it with me.I got on a couple of buses, all of which were complicated and eventually dumped me late at night in a nasty, drug ridden, prostitute infested, neigboorhood in down town LA near the Gray Hound bus station. Knowing that I had a decent amount of cash on me, I made my usual nasty neigborhood sounds, houls and roars, to warn the druggies and would be muggers that I was weird enough that it may not be worth their while to interact with me. If I had seen my antics, in the mirror, I too would have looked for someone to talk to. I had to do this for at least a 15 minutes until I could ask someone safe, and figure out, where I was and which but to take to get me the rest of the way to the station.
I only had a limited amount of money that would perfectly purchase a month on the road, a month away from humanity and all the faces and ideas that I had come to loath, the competition to be that perfect and successful man. I needed to see some trees. The cashier at Grayhound swiped my ATM card for the fifth time. she put tape on it. It wasn't working. I was so angry "stupid fuckers, do they realize how badly I need to leave this town?". I knew that, no matter what, I would be out of LA tonight. The ATM machine only allowed for 200 dollars to be withdrawn at a time which mean that I'd have enough money to get me to Utah, but no more money to buy my free month. That was terrible. I needed to see this damn country every mountain and valley, the cows and the villages, the fields of corn. I yearned for freedom and new smells and for people for whom clothing and their image was not as important to them as the water that enlivens the dying man.
When I got to Utah, they understood my story and used the 200 dolars I spent in LA towards my 30 day pass. I wandered around Utah, I found a thrift shop and bought the most perfect dainty, red orange guitar for 30 dollar. I needed a friend, and the guitar had become my best friend. No argument, it let my fingures find the perfect sounds that would sooth or inspire that moment. Fast friends,well until the strings began to break, but then again, if you play guitar you know, that, in an emergency situation, that one last e string can do much to entertain.
The bus dropped me of on the side of the highway. A couple minutes before I saw two faces that looked familiar only because they were Jewish, the close to frum kind. The kind from NY. I hadn't seen that kind in a while and it was only now that I realize what a distinct look it was, and that Jews have. They actually had a look. I just hadn't given it much though. Yes, I wanted space from Jews, but this moment of familiarity was refreshing in a way.
We all decided to hitch together. At 2:00 AM we were finally walking up a rocky dirt trail towards camp. The cold was biting at my arms. I had never been camping. I loved nature, but i was tired and cold now. I had made the unwise decision to bring an airport luggage with wheels to carry my clothing. I brought no tent. I had no camping gear. I had a sleeping bag, and I still had miles of walking to go in the pitch black forest without any flash light, before I would reach the camp. Miles. Yes, at that moment I thought of the new name I had been looking for. "Miles" I liked that name. It had the M sound. It meant miles. I thought about the many miles that took me from the land and thoughts of my birth, far away to the strange land that I had been shown. I though about all the new experiences and fresh thoughts and new teachers that had arrived. I thought about the adopted uncles and the passing lovers who taught me all of what my heart has been so yearning to know, and now to be blind, and lost, free and happy in the middle of a dark sea of trees. Here I am. I had come so many miles. Miles meant distance and accomplishment and freedom. Yes, "Miles" will be my new name. For now.