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Escape From Southern Humboldt

Why is life so boring in Garberville these days, so boring I’ve been desperately trying to get out of town and drive to Mexico. It’s not just me, a lot of people are bored and boring, to stave it off we do internet and TV and any other electronic distraction. (If anyone is aware of someone who is very interesting in the G'ville area please identify and tell why they are so, thanks.)

Life was way more exciting when the weed scene was happening: there was stuff to do, people to meet, trimmers, buyers, bundles of twenties to drool over, cops to look out for, weather to worry about, and bugs and mold to battle. There was a lot going on, sometimes too much, taking care of a plant from the moment a seed was dropped in water in March, or a clone stepped up, to the day the pound went out the door in October, or usually later.

Even “the life” became a different kind of boring, another year arrived and everything was repeated. Sometimes a girlfriend or lover became a trimmer, or (rarely for me) a trimmer turned into a lover. (Well, there was that nineteen year old trimmer and that bj back in ‘82, thanks again “Jenny.”) Others had way better luck, some launched long-term relationships with their trimmers, even marrying and having children.

The trimmers were from all over the world, often vivacious waitress and bartenders, the kind of women who could leave their regular jobs easily, then get another when the harvest season was over. They brightened up the area every October for decades, packing music venues and dancing wildly. Now they’re all gone and they’re never coming back, sigh…

There was a lot of stress with the weed scene, like dealing with the live-in trimmers (though I do miss the social contact), trying to sell the weed, and beating the rains at harvest time in the fall. 

Retirement is way more relaxing, but with less to do also more boring. A good novel is still the most fulfilling distraction, without which I’d be prisoner of the internet and TV. (When my laptop was killed recently and I didn’t have internet for a couple weeks I felt superior to all the sheep surfing in a haze of obsession, but then started feeling emptier than ever.) 

What I don’t miss from “the old days” is thinking about weed all the time. Every morning all winter I’d plan the coming year’s crop with my strong cuppa coffee at my side: what kind of seeds or clones, whether to start them in a green house or under lights, out in the country or in town. Yes, that’s the best thing about retirement, writing about anything, way more fun than just thinking about marijuana.

(Bonus joke, that old favorite: Why did the hippies come to Garberville? Because they heard there were no jobs.)

* * *

Mexico was my white whale, I had been trying to get back there for years, and had just burned cds of Moby Dick to listen to along the way, as well as twenty or thirty other novels on cd. After agonizing about whether to go, changing my mind every other day, seeking random advice from strangers on the street, I finally started packing and after a few days had an overflowing table full of too much of everything, which sat there for a couple weeks.

It felt strange packing all week for a road trip knowing I probably wouldn’t go. Not even sure which vehicle to take I cleaned out both thoroughly, and then wondered if it was time to unpack? Instead I loaded it all in my car where it sat for another week while I was gripped with indecision and confusion.

Early one May morning I was finally ready to take off, my neighbor happened by on his daily dog walk and said, “So you’re really going to do it?”

“I just feel I’d be happier if I stayed home,” I said. “This is just an experiment, I don’t really want to go. I’m going to take off and if it doesn’t feel good on the road I’ll just come back in a few hours or the next day.”

“But once you get out there…” he said.

“Yup, I’ll feel the freedom of the open road, I haven’t been anywhere in years.”

I made it to Willits, listening to a captivating Alice Hoffman book on cd and thinking about life, then bought a sandwich, a nasty muffin, and some serrano peppers at Mariposa Market. I headed across the mountains toward Williams and Interstate 5 south, I could still turn back I thought, but that idea filled me with revulsion, contemplating going back to my house and rut: 

I had escaped!


  1. Jonah Raskin November 11, 2023

    Garberville always was boring except in the exciting way that Modic writes about it. I think I bought 5 pounds from him in ‘84 but maybe that was his twin brother or it could have been my double.

  2. R November 12, 2023

    Wonderful read.

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