this is the back of the world
In high school, after we got our drivers' licenses and could finally, with the obsessive exercise of newfound freedom that defines adolescence, roam the Bay Area beyond our parents' houses, we used to go this secret spot we called "the back of the world," a lookout in San Carlos that opened up into a spectacular view of the entire Bay Area. The entrance to the lookout was unassuming: merely a passageway between two houses in a very average-looking suburban neighborhood, albeit, a little higher up in the hills than most. But you had to know where to look to find the back of the world. After someone took you once (and it was, like any local spot, shared through word of mouth and random late-night visits), you made sure to remember how to get there and what the houses on either side of it looked like, and then, when you wanted to impress someone, or stay out past curfew, you'd go, re-discovering it, again and again. For its beauty and its mystery, it never got old.
The back of the world. We found another little corner of it in Geoff Evans' Bolinas backyard this past Saturday, where I celebrated my birthday with a gathering of friends, a crab boil, a bonfire, and a whole lot of food spread across (Geoff's hand-built) 32-foot-long table (the wood was found swept up on the shores below). I wanted my friends to experience the Bolinas that I have gotten to know over the past few months, the protective and somewhat mysterious little coastal town with its shark-infested waters and artsy denizens. You only get a first impression once, that overwhelming deluge of sensation in which you're taking in so many new sights and smells and sounds, not separately, most of the time, but as a superabundant stream, and you're seeing the glacial tip of a place, not yet understanding its full spirit, or essence. Even the tip of a glacier, when you see it for the first time, is so magnificent and extraordinary and incomprehensible (Where did it come from? How did it get there?) that there is enough to take in for now. Plumbing the depths will come later.
The back of the world. This implies a place hidden beyond. You must find it; it is not in the path of tourists and dabblers. It is not public; it does not make itself known. The front is easy to see; the back is somewhere else. The back is intimate and familiar once you arrive, tucked away from the noise and buzz of swarm out there. It was serendipity, then, a privilege really, to gather in a backyard, a private and personal corner of the world whose view of the Bolinas Lagoon, where it siphons into the Pacific Ocean. has been passed through generations; to hide away together for an afternoon; to be among friends, instead of a crowd of strangers; to be in someone's home, but still feel uncontained, free; to eat the food our hands had made, off a table and among ceramics and vases created by Geoff; to see out into the wild, where the infinite tides move in and out, and the strands of light, the first sun after days of rain and storm are purer and stronger, full of spirit like freshly cut rope, more incandescent than before. Re-emergence demands glory, after all.
Thanks friends for celebrating with me. Audrey, Evan, Jaron, Paige, Janette, Viv, Phil, Jared, Nnena, Channing, Andrew, Andrew, Justin, Emily, Jess, JJ, Josh, Jackie, Jacob, Matt, Carlos, Steven, Zack, Roxi, Ryan, Shannon, Sam, MM.
Thanks Ben, for orchestrating the crab boil. You are the man all men strive to be.
Thanks Geoff, for your generosity and kindness, for your artistry, which was woven through every crevice of your house and backyard. You inspire and bless all of us.
Thanks JD, Rob, Crystal, Jia Min, Jonathan, for your extra culinary and emotional support. You are the best friends a lady could ask for.