The End: The last post to the NoEnd Group from my 1996-1997 walkabout

The End
Posted to NoEnd Group, the end of the walk ‘about of ’96/’97Caleb John Clark



First I want to thank all of you who gave me time, space, food, dial tones and company while I traveled for the last eight months. Thank you, you are a wonderful group of humans.

After a long time living out of a backpack, and eating off a laptop, my walkabout has come to a successful end in a small southern California sea side town called Encinitas.

Ahhhh, the walkabout, what a great invention! But they are fickle, flighty, unfocused, flitting little sojourns, and easy to give up on. I’ve discovered something about them though, if you don’t give up, you can’t fail…kind of like life, which I think it is the point.

I have traveled, or more like paced, between New England, Santa Fe, Flagstaff, San Francisco, LA, and San Diego. In each place not really living, only browsing, not buying (although I did lay away). At the same time I lived everywhere I was because I didn’t have anywhere else I was living. Home was where I logged in from. Along the way I found that the presence of a traveler tends to make everyone reexamine the decisions they made that got them where they are today. And the flitting in and out of other’s lives also showed me the effects decisions have. This too is the point of a walkabout.

I have learned some things deeply, letting them sink to root level on long solitary desert drives: Everyone has their own timing, so no matter how much something might make sense, if the timing is personally wrong, it won’t work. If you give what you can when you travel (doing dishes, cleaning, computer help) you can travel for a long time. The most important journey in the world is yours. If you find yourself pushing too hard at something, try pulling. Bacon was right, “it is a mere and miserable solitude to want friends, for without which the world is but a wasteland.” Given the evidence of the destructive effects of a bad attitude, have a good one, even if you have to fake it. The less you want, the more you have. A succession of small goals caught, beats a life spent fishing after one big one.

Reflecting back I feel like a plane that’s been flying over the country, sometimes high, sometimes low enough to smell the pine sap, sometimes even stopping to look around, but always taking off again when the breeze was favorable looking for just the right landing place at just the right time.

So I’ve landed in Encinitas, California, a small beach town 20 miles north of San Diego on the edge of mother sea. The house I live in is due east of old downtown Encinitas which gauntlets the 101 as it teases the waves to flood it. Just inland from the 101 train tracks crow fly along the coast letting the “coaster” whisk multiple lanes of traffic worth of people along flower sided train tracks with walking trails amidst the bushes. Then comes I-5, 101’s worst nightmare, an automaton of a road with no class whatsoever and walking beside it makes you choke (can we learn from this?). We’re on top of a hill half a mile east of highway 5, two miles from the water’s edge and the end of America. A few days ago my aunt and uncle drove out from Santa Fe and surprised me and my uncle and I went for my first dip in the ocean since I’d arrived. The sandy, salty, big surfable waves washed gave me and my brain a good scrub and I was baptized. I feel the city pace beading off my back when I walk barefoot to toughen up my soft feet.

The house is wooden, my favorite material, and has two decks that look west to the ocean. It’s on a dirt road straddled on the sides by green houses. A nice big yard in back and a garage for grownups. Five bedrooms, master upstairs where John Bordage, my a friend for the last 22 years and his family: Jake 3, Elyse 11, and wife Leslie live. Downstairs Paul, a word playing genius and entrepreneur, and Jerry, a tile laying king of resourcefulness, both live.

I’ve never lived with kids. It’s…dynamic. We’re up at seven. Jake is a laughing ball of mischief, constantly in need of one eye and in a biting, hitting phase. He has recently learned to say “god damn it”. One day while I was working on John’s computer he awoke alone from a nap in his parents bed. He was not happy about waking up and sat facing the wall and rubbing his eyes. Taking a deep breath he shook his head and said, “god damn it!”, very funny. Elyse is, to everyone’s horror, about to become a blond California woman. Luckily she’s smart. John is a construction foreman by day and computer geek by night (we’re looking to set up a LAN in the house), Leslie and he met on a construction site when she was doing drywall work. Leslie is perhaps the most loving, positive person on the planet and an Encinitas native. John and I met in a river in the woods of Maine when we were 8 and in 1987 John moved to Encinitas when I was living here and had a room open. Now, many years later the strange circle has been completed. Basically I’m the third uncle in residence, great training for an only child and plenty of testers for educational software.

Dateline: Miracle’s Cafe, Cardiff, California, two miles from my house. To my left a view of breaking white foam against the shore. Straight ahead blue sea through palms, car roofs passing to and fro, along with bikers, joggers, surfers and other forms of California wildlife. This part of the coastline has stayed pretty much the same, while inland has sacrificed it’s soil for Targets, fast food and traffic.

I’m at a cafe, my litmus test for a new town. The crowd is good, the view is outlandishly Hawaiian, the latte’ is short on milk. But, after two years in North Beach, I’m doomed to life of coffee disappointment.

It’s hot and salty humid. I arrived without a pair of short and had to buy some, now I’ve worn nothing but for a week. It’s like my home town on summer days when plants exploded pell-mell rushing headlong into life before winter came again. But here it’s summer all year long, the drama of the seasons replaced by an endlessly repeating one act show called “summer!”. I’m living in the Vegas of weather.

“Sounds great, but why Encinitas?” you chirp.

And therein lies the jewel, the kernel, a pearl, perhaps a ruby, or a sapphire, no…yea! I proclaim possibly the very hope diamond itself! buried deep under the lint of a simple geographical relocation and metaphorical aircraft descent.

Over the years I’ve made a hobby of looking at schools of higher education. I’ve sat in on classes at USC, SDSU, UCLA, SFSU, UCB, and surfed the Web sites of countless others. I always loved school. On my last trip to Encinitas I paid a little visit to San Diego State University and their Educational Technology masters program in computer based learning systems. I’d heard of it through a friend from ASU who is in the program. It was a good visit. The professor I’d met was excited to work with me and the classes I sat in on were technically exciting and theoretically challenging. At a recent 100th anniversary party for SDSU I met another professor who is into “humanizing” technology, just like the NoEnd web group! Classes have their own email lists and Web sites, stuff I’ve been submersed in for years, yet it’s all wrapped up nicely in teaching, which I need to learn about. Teaching using computers, tutorials, the Net, video, games, good stuff. It feels right. I applied and feel confident I will get in, lord knows I have enough practice applying to schools! Tuition is yard sale cheap because I never gave up my residency, yet the program is Sak’s Fifth Avenue in quality, top 10 in the country with only 140 students. God bless California, not only did they underwrite a good part of my walkabout with unemployment, but they have great schools.

So it all makes sense, isn’t that strange! it feels strange to come down out of the sky, floating in on the hot rising,, skidding into a comfortable runway with recognizable faces lining it’s sides, and pulling up to a welcome household with dinner waiting.

Now a new walkabout commences. One of the mind and purposeful work. I can’t wait to be a student again! And this time I have a lot to teach, as well as learn.

Caleb out.

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