See Through Into The Past
If I could, I would just travel constantly. I’d be a wanderer, and I would just end with — sort of anonymous wanderer, and just waft into places and sit down and be with people. I just love it.1 It’s a way of losing oneself. A lot of this instinct for bliss for me in terms of sexuality and spirituality and travel, all has to do with losing the self, losing the ego, the small stuff, and being permeable to the — more permeable to the influences of the world, and the realms and dimensions of the world.
I think the first place I traveled, was when I worked in a tiny little antique shop in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico, Bernalillo. Now Bernalillo is built up, then it was nothing and nowhere, outside Albuquerque. Then I worked there and I just sat in the shop all day by myself with all these ancient objects around me. Once in a while somebody would wander in, and nobody had money, so they wouldn’t buy anything. But there was a beautiful red dress, a long red dress that hung — velvet, next to my area where I sat, and I would just read, because there was nothing to do. And the dress belonged to Sarah Bernhardt, the actress. And I actually wrote a story about that, putting on that dress and walking out into the world.2
But I began to feel in that shop, that things had vibrations, that things had histories if you would listen and being aware that there’s a vibratory force in things, in everything, but our modern world, or the world we live in, is so buzzy and fast, we can barely keep track of what we’re doing from hour to hour. But if you go somewhere quiet, you can begin to feel it. And I also think that sometimes I — I don’t know if other writers do this, I think they do. One time I wrote a short story called La Bete about a French laundress in the 19th century who became a great model for the impressionists painters in Paris. I thought I made this whole thing up. I mean I did a small amount of research, not on her, but on the world of impressionistic painters in the 19th century in Paris, just enough so I could have a setting.
But I saw this woman, and I saw her as a laundress in this village, and I saw the whole thing and wrote it really kind of rapidly, and found out a year or so later, that Toulouse-Lautrec’s favorite model was called La Goulue instead of La Bete, the glutton instead of the beast. She was a laundress who came from a small village, and she was his favorite model, she’s in a lot of his paintings. And when I — her story, what I could find of it, was almost parallel to the story I had thought I had imagined. So, who knows what we’re plucking from the ethers. Maybe someone just wants their story told, and I just happen to tune in, be attuned to La Goulue, and tell her story. It came through translated a little bit off, but — so, when I started to — and when I was very young, I used to tell my parents “I’m going home to England. I’m moving to England. I don’t belong here in California. I don’t know what I’m doing here.”
And I had an English accent that I affected for about a year, a British accent. And I would get huge books out of the library, pictures of England, and I would just tell them, when I’m 21, which seemed really old. I said I’m going home to England. Well, I didn’t get there until I was much older. And when I got to London, it was like ah, I know this place, I’ve been here. And I was so happy. I was so happy to go to all — I was like revisiting all the places. It was an extraordinary feeling. And so, when I travel, yes, I love to seek out places that have that vibratory energy that genius loci, that spirit of place, where I can almost — the veils are thinner and I can almost see through into the past.