Yes, I'll go out to the desert
Just to try and find my path.
Y'know I got phantoms all around me,
They are just beyond my grasp.
Country Joe and the Fish
The bus bound from Albequerqe, New Mexico to Taos was nearly empty. It was an older vehicle, and the windows were open to help keep it cool. A thin, dark-skinned man was sitting in the front seat, talking excitedly to the driver, who occasionally half-turned his head to make a reply. I was looking out The Window, at times appreciating the intense blue sky outlining beige Bluffs, at times catching reflections off the window to display the interior of the bus.
In anticipation of a spiritual, perhaps surreal adventure, I was trying to induce hallucinations much as my mentor, Salvador Dali might. I was even drug-free for this excursion, more out of concern for the law than for any sort of self-discipline.
There was a hotel at the edge of town that I selected for the night, and once established I went to the square to look at the shops. I ended up buying a silver and turquoise ring for $50. I was emotionally numb, though, and this purchase was simply part of the image I wanted to create. I was in Taos with the pretense that, as an artist, this might be an appropriate home for me. Under that guise, I convinced my mother to pay for the trip, even though I was painfully aware of my own lack of motivation and direction. I wasn't likely to go anywhere but back to my apartment in San Francisco.
This trip was so different from the one previous, when I had hitchhiked and slept in a ditch by the road - spending hours in the local galleries and studying the Indians in the square. There were spectacular sunsets, stimulating conversations, and a sense of freedom I had never before experienced. But two years had passed, and things had gone sour, for no clear reason, except that I was experiencing the results of living a Nihilistic philosophy. It was twenty years before I was able to shake that mistrust of life.