When the fire crackled every night and the mornings got quiet we moved from the old tepee platform next to my favorite hemlock and into Marlie's old place. It was the best one. It had a wood stove and a bay window over the woodshed. I lit candles that dripped over the hand hewn windowsill and we’d fog up the windows until the animal calls went quiet in the forest and the other shacks were dark. Well, shack is too cruel but cottage is too kind.
I see the trail through stumps to the reservoir where we took Christie once. Wildflowers and poison oak grew around their giant bases. Christie looked as old as Zag's mother, pulled and aged by early onset dementia. He changed her diaper like a child with a matching wedding ring. Christie didn’t speak anymore but she grunted and slapped and hit. Sometimes smiled. We took a picture with her but she didn’t smile. It was hot and sunny and we thought we were doing a good thing. We caught newts in our hands for her to pet and cut wildflowers for mason jars that would wilt on the walk home. Soon after, Christie died. I still see Zag showering between lettuce rows, wiggling the hose over his head, barefoot in swim trunks against the grape arbor heavy with fruit. He didn't know then that her time was almost up.
We had lost Christie once. The whole two acres is fenced, but it happens sometimes, Zag said. We looked for her into the night with a headlamp and then ate without him in a room full of people that sounded like it was full of mice. I was carving a spoon, then. Haim taught me. He taught me lots of things and I gave him my first surfboard in thanks. This where I met the boys that went to the base in Antarctica to work every summer. And the curly haired girl who told me never push when you shit. And Mike with his green eyes and porn sized parts. And the rows and rows of glass jars full of home grown spices. I don’t have many pictures from the commune but there is one of me with my basket, made from willow branches woven with blackberry vines, thorns removed with my thumbs over a few evenings perched on logs next to people knitting and carving and talking under stars.
I hear it’s not a commune anymore. People don’t come and go and young men with dreadlocks don’t buy liquor at the convenience store in town anymore. Hippies don’t bike out of the woods for flour or matches and I hear Zag has a young girlfriend now. But I don’t want to know any more. I want to remember it how it was.