The group split up pretty quickly after landing at Haight-Ashbury. Haile immediately got online to find the Caltrain schedule into Silicon Valley, where a great workshop on Artificial Intelligence and Evolution Toward the Singularity was taking place.
Ja was also headed for public transport, but he was going east, off to cross the Bay into Berkeley. The Anarchist’s Study Group there was discussing a book he’d recently read and liked a lot. He figured he’d see if he could meet up with some kindred spirits on campus, perhaps toss around some philosophical banter with some intellects all weekend. His mother would approve.
The twins were looking around a bit uncertainly, talking quietly between themselves, when an elderly hippie woman carrying a basket of fresh produce approached them and asked if she could help, what their names were and what they were looking for.
“We’re looking for the Way.”
“Ah.” The woman smiled. “Just walk on down Haight to Laguna and hang a left. The Zen Center is right there, you can’t miss it.”
That satisfied them and they followed her directions.
That left Tante on her own. She decided to wander on into the Park and hang out with the homeless, that seemed to be where she’d best fit in. She wore a faded caftan style dress of Juno’s, covered by one of Arnold’s old wool coats. It was chilly in the spring air of the Bay and she knew she’d be sleeping outside.
She’d chosen her good walking shoes, rather dirty, but the best bet for going long distances. She had on two pairs of socks, and they all matched. She was a woman who liked to walk and suspected she’d be doing a lot of it over the weekend. She’d talk to people, the people of the streets. She’d see if she could learn the difference between good and evil, see if she was on the right path to fulfilling her destiny.
The taxi driver had gotten her thinking.
Being the Auntie Christ sure felt like it had some destiny attached to it, and Hari seemed to think that the whole show was rife with it. Tante was somewhat comforted by the ideas their driver had presented, they held a certain bizarre equanimity that appealed to her. Everybody is the same thing, a random puzzle piece, a little bitty thing without which the whole is incomplete.
It flowed with her walk into the park. San Francisco was truly a melting pot, and Tante’s look indeed fit right in with the folks gathered in small enclaves here and there. Some were clearly groups of homeless teens banded together, some solitary folks of indeterminate middle age, some place between thirty and a hundred, a look Tante shared with them. At nine months, she looked timelessly ancient. Her skin was like the old leather of a beloved baseball glove, well oiled and tough, a lovely tawny brown. Her hair was straight, silver and gold mixed with Koori coal, her eyes her daddy’s crystal blue. Her wide grin and nose held something primal, something that first people everywhere seemed to share, something friendly that made people trust her. Her features and the fact that the grin was genuine and expressed across her face, marked firmly in the folds of her old woman’s skin, made her look harmless. Many of the people of the park had old skin, most of those out of adolescence at least.
It wore well out of doors.
Her status as misfit only became clear when she engaged in conversation. Her Aussie accent threw folks for a minute, but just a minute. It was a diverse place and it was the age of TV and the internet, after all. While she clearly wasn’t a local, she also didn’t come across as too alien.
She sat on the grass near the tea garden. People in the park were young and old, black and white, Asian and Hispanic, Gay and Straight and Trans, Indigenous and Extra Dimensional. There were uppity white folks here and there; some uppity black and Asian ones, too. There were down and outs of every color and creed. San Francisco was a city of economic disparity. It seemed most of the cities of this culture were that way, some people living lives of extreme extravagance and waste, sucking resources from the earth without a thought, while others pulled food from garbage cans and slept under bridges on cold foggy nights.
For some it was a choice, for others, not so much. As Tante considered ideas about destiny, she also had to wonder about choice. Hari had suggested that karma yoga required discipline to make informed choices. That part was pretty wide open as written in life. Perhaps they did all have destinies, they all still had to make choices, even if there was a pre-written cosmic plan. A body has to do something, even if it’s nothing.
Tante didn’t mind the fog, nor sleeping outside. The homeless kids kind of broke her heart, she wished they had some place warmer to go and more certain meal times. She’d see if she could pitch her coat with them the first night. She decided she’d spend the next two days asking people in the park about good and evil. She’d make a list, present it to the group back in Mendocino, see if they could learn anything from it. That seemed like a fine plan for showing the elders that she could make her way in the world on her own. That’s how she’d come to think of Baltha and Yanaha and Arnold a least, as elders. She wasn’t so sure about those kids Zeus and Juno.
When they met up at the Fisherman’s Wharf sign on Sunday, every one of them had changed. The coming of age ritual seemed to have been successful.
The twins looked like different people. They were no longer holding hands, but both smiled contentedly. The energy between them was ordered and flowing, unimpeded by any physical boundaries. They both looked markedly older. Yin had gotten her ears pierced with pearl and Yang had a wicked dank haircut, black spikes to offset his eyes, which blazed blacker than ever in his wan skin.
Ja’s look was one of deep distraction, almost a look of a man lost, or of a man who had lost something. It was clear he’d been weeping. Santa and Uncle Jerry had gained a little Darwin; the weekend had aged him quite a bit.
It had aged them all. Tante’s list of evils included her as top choice more than once, or at least the Antichrist of Revelations. That weighed on a body. It weighed on a soul, too. There were a lot of crazy fundies in the area, and it was a term they’d heard and liked to throw around. She now understood how such flippant use of names could be pretty hurtful. She’d also felt first hand a lot of the personal pain of the homeless. As it turned out, she was highly empathic with people she touched. She’d not done a whole lot of touching before.
Haile carried a look of deep contemplation and a touch of gray at the temples, Deep Blue thinking about Kasparov perhaps, or maybe Watson looking back at the Blue one from the winner’s seat on Jeopardy. No real expression beyond thoughtful. Of course the thoughts were of mortality and memes, heady stuff indeed.
Hari Krishna showed up in the minivan covered in blue. Since he’d gotten the chauffeur job with the rich folks from Mendocino, his boss had agreed to let him stay with some friends in the Mission District and do a Blue Man Group performance with them, one of his side gigs. He was a natural for it.
“So tell me all about your weekend.” He really was excited to hear about the adventures of the troupe. He could see that they’d all changed, god that he was. Besides, he knew his place in the cosmos. He was the blue guy who drove the chariot.
Haile jumped right in.
“As of now, the large scale substitution of Silicon with Carbon to produce post organic AI life forms capable of storing the uploaded experiences of the biotic three dimensionals of this realm for the indefinitely distant space time of the matrix seems to have the same end of program limitations that are inherent in the telomeres of the genomes of the organic creatures of said realm.”
That went over like a lead balloon.
“So there won’t be any carbon offsets coming down the chute of the technology, either.”
“Ah.” Hari replied politely. His manners were very dutiful and a mark of excellent self discipline.
“We fell in love!” the twins still harmonized beautifully, perhaps even more so, in their disconnected state.
“Oh?” Hari, a master of brevity indeed.
“Don Alonso Quixano.” Yin.
“And Senorita Inacayalita.” Yang.
“The Bergoglio’s of Argentina.” both blushed.
“They were staying at the Zen Center.” Yin.
“They’re related to the Pope.” Yang
“We hooked up.” A statement in unison, wide open to interpretation. More strange family ties seemed to be emerging.
Tante didn’t want to get into details about hook-ups, not at this point. At least she was glad to hear it was not each other they’d fallen for, but she was having visions of foursomes between sets of siblings and it bothered her virgin sensibilities. But the new distance between the twins suggested a kind of disconnect, perhaps something quite healthy for them. They seemed to be maintaining the middle way pretty well from their new perspectives.
“I’ve got a list of evils. More than one person picked me, without ever even having met me.” A little sob escaped her involuntarily, seemingly out out of nowhere; she recovered quickly, sniffing. “Other candidates include money, racism, genocide, greed, the bad haired one, Monsanto, the Military Industrial Complex, the Patriarchy, Big Pharma, The Cabal of Capitalism, Communism, the Chinese, The Luminati, Government, Extra Terrestrials, Liberals, Dick Cheney, Satan, ISIS, Religion, Science, Anti-religion and Anti-science….”
“How many pages do you have there?” Ja was getting impatient, even if he had given thumbs up to a few candidates.
“Three and a half. I’ve been working on a synonyms list and trying to pare it down some.” Tante sighed. Her case of the blues was right up there with Hari’s. “I suppose that can wait. How about you?”
“I’m still processing. I met a woman at Berkeley and we ended up in Marin and I found myself alone in the woods later feeling the call of the Yeti as everything alive and the call of the exo-dimensionals and caves of loneliness as the call of death and feeling the pain of the extinction of my father’s kind and taxonomies of separation and of the godhood of Krishna and self and my mother in the cave fleeing the Patriarchy and my part in the whole. I’m still processing.”
“We have much to share.” Yin.
“Of what we have learned.” Yang.
“Of the ways of Zen.” Perfect balance.
“But first we must sit with no thing.” She.
“We must sit with every thing.” He.
“Just sitting, just sitting Zazen.” Harmony.
With that, Ja let out a snore from his position leaning against the window in back. Emotional exhaustion had overcome him and was out. Haile processed. Yin and Yang just sat. Tante found herself staring out the window of the van as it made its way up the coast, thinking about destiny.
Hari hummed the Om Namah Shivaya mantra for the road as they each drifted off into other realms on their way back to the others at the house on the MTJ, where destiny awaited.
The End is Near