We all leave home looking for something that isn’t there. Family, you could call it. Togetherness. Or maybe just plain Love. Whatever it is, it’s not waiting for us inside those little lighted boxes on their little green hillsides with their little flags waving in front. It’s not at our kitchen tables or on the laps of our daddies. And you better believe it’s not on our TV screens.
Some of us come from afar, nasal New England toy towns and Rust Belt backwoods. Most of us come from closer. Santa Marina. San Gabriel. Redondo. You’ve probably seen us walking in the sunshine, tanned all year round, with our books pressed to our chests. We’re dreamy and don’t like chemistry or violin lessons. When we talk, it’s in dull, sultry tones; the heat that cracks the asphalt.
Some of us are cheerleaders, choirgirls, homecoming queens. Some of us are wallflowers, just learning to let our hair down. We are all, without exception, beautiful, inside and out. Christ made us that way, but not the Christ you believe in.
Our daddies are veterans. They have cruel, boring jobs like “headmaster” and “stockbroker” and “aeronautical engineer”. Our mothers are dead or homemakers. They care about Glo-Coat and cry every day of the week. There’s no Love there.
It’s in Haight-Ashbury for a while, for those of us who get there early enough, but that goes downhill fast. After that, we have to look for it in wilder places, in the canyons and campervans beside the road. But none of us find it for real until Charlie.
Because if Love has a human form, it’s him. A man of thirty-three with a cleft in his chin and all the darkness of locked prison cells in his eyes. He talks quietly, but everyone listens. He isn’t tall and strong like some G.I. Joe, but he doesn’t need to be. When he looks at us, it’s pure awareness, light coming to the surface and mingling with the dark, of which it is born and the same.
And he knows us, body and soul.