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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, & True Stories

Born Too Young: Diary Of A Pilgrimage

(Part Two)

When we last left Sparrow [Issue 181], he had just arrived in France after six months of roaming the British Isles, struggling to keep his marriage intact, and looking ahead to the culmination of his pilgrimage in India six months hence. While in earnest search of himself, God, and true love, Sparrow is frequently overtaken by fits of jealousy, periods of poverty, harangues of self-doubt — by a host of troubles which seem both unique to him, and yet touchingly emblematic of all that is truly human.

Heaven On Earth

As this month’s US section attests, homelessness exists in many forms. There is the public spectacle of those who dwell on city streets; there are the more private dramas of those who suffer, in whatever form, diminishments of the soul.

High In The Himalayas

Twenty years ago I had my first and only mescaline trip in a remote part of the Himalayas that borders India and Nepal. I had already traveled and studied Tibetan Buddhism in India for three years. I had read Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert’s book on psychedelic experience, which they compared with the Tibetan bardo, or after-death realm. When I actually ran into Alpert — now known as Ram Dass — in a small town in northern India, the meeting seemed fortuitous.

Native Tongue

It was supposed to be a romantic night without the children. But the motel walls were so thin, we could hear the elderly couple in the next room talking and playing cards until nearly midnight, their voices — very Southern, very proper — looping around our whispered endearments and labored breathing. Since we could only wonder what they were hearing, we became a bit self-conscious, as if our parents were in the next room. This was amusing, but not for long, and about as romantic as balancing the checkbook. (Hardly shy when it comes to sex, I nonetheless insist on privacy. Perhaps this is a legacy of growing up in the fifties, when I was taught that sex was suspect and a little shameful. “Is sex dirty?” Woody Allen asks. “Only if it’s done right.” The prejudice has stayed with me, like a stubborn accent.)

Fiction

Renee

Saturday night. Grace Episcopal Church. A dance sponsored by an organization for young people recovering from alcoholism, a noble group which I am too old to join, although in other ways I am qualified.

Song

My mother had convinced herself — and us —that they would never go through with it. But the eviction notice said the marshall would arrive at 8 a.m., and he did. She tried stopping him with lies. “Mr. Levine said he’ll wait for the rent. He told me himself. I spoke to him yesterday.”

Three Women

This land is dry and hard, and the wind can blow for days without relief. Outside the canyon, nothing stops it. Standing on my front porch, I can look through a gap in the canyon wall and across forty miles of greasewood and saltbush to a distant butte on the southern horizon. The land there is an arid plain, broken only by shallow arroyos, sandstone outcrops, and barren dunes. It is empty and open to the sky, offering no protection.

*NOTE: Original copies of this issue are no longer available. Unbound, laser-printed copies will be provided for print orders.

Readers Write

Homelessness

Home. What is home? I think of my mother, our yard, gardening, cooking, warmth — though on a typical night at my home, I arrive late; open a can of lentil soup, too tired to cook; eat alone in front of the TV; make phone calls; then go to bed.

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