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Monday, August 28, 2006

How I Came To Bolinas

When I was a kid of twelve years old and living in Riverside, CA I had a repeating dream. I was standing on a pastureland cliff, looking out at the ocean. I had never seen a pastureland cliff before, because I had never been north of Santa Barbara. There was a guy standing next to me, shorter than me, with hair flying away from his pony tail and a goatee beard. When I would look at him to see his face from a front view, my dream would end.

The first time I saw Bolinas, it was from the overlook on Panoramic highway over Stinson Beach when I was sixteen. Somehow my mom let me go on a two week camping trip with five other teenagers, average age seventeen. On another trip up highway one, my boyfriend and I picked up John Milan, a famous watercolor painter. He took us to Piero's house where he lived and showed us his paintings - amazing. He told me at the time that I would return to Bolinas, because it was my home. Strangely enough, he turned out to be prophetic in this regard.

When I went to art college in Oakland, I met this person and fell in love with him. I figured that he was the person in my dream when he took me to his house on the edge of the cliff when walked out in the dark to look at the ocean. It was a very strange experience to have realized that and walked away from the relationship, but he taught me so much about how to be in relationship. I was very lucky to have known him for the three and a half years I did. We broke up because I couldn't handle him going through his drug phase in the eighties. I'm sorry I didn't stay with him, but if I had I would have missed all of the amazing other guys that were my consorts through the years.

When I broke up with him, I decided to stay in Bolinas because I had some sense that there was something going on here that I wanted to be a part of. That something was a sense of community - something I knew nothing about then. At this time, it was really one roving party that provided for everyone with an adult education program called Faultline. People would offer classes, get paid by the school system and everyone would go to everyone else's class! What a fun time it was in "the golden age of Bolinas."

There used to be four hundred or so people who were available for any hairbrained scheme that anyone thought up. You could always find help with whatever you wanted to do or make with other people. Now there are only fifty volunteers in the pool or less, so it's very different to make something happen to keep the community center alive. I guess that most of the old geysers who were young and energetic then are grown up, having bought a house and had kids, etc. So now there is no time for the things they did when they were young such as put on theater, make art and music together and dance.

Near where I have lived for the last thirty years:

Maybe I can move to another spot and instigate something like this happening all over again? Bolinas has been a template for how to have a good time in a small town. Now I know what community is all about.


  1. Found your site doing some random surfing, perhaps feeling nostalgic... I spent a year in Bolinas in the early 70s, as a jr. high school kid fresh from Laguna Beach where hippies were an industry. :-) Lived across from the tennis court where I had a great view of town going by and took some of the kid version of the classes in random living rooms (spinning and weaving sticks in my mind)...

    anyway, just wanted to say thanks for the memories...

  2. Hi Kitch,

    If you are nostalgic for Bolinas, why not check out the blog called - it's sort of a town blog!

    There are other amazing blogs linked to that site also - in particular, I enjoy Lloyd Kahn's.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hi, So surprised to find your mention of John Milan. Used to know him a long tim ago in Bolinas. I have several of his paintings, and have often wondered where he is these days. Any idea?

  4. Yes, the last time I corresponded with John, he had moved to New Jersy to take care of his aging mother. By now I imagine she has died, so I would look in that state for him. If you can't find him, perhaps I could contact someone else I know in Bolinas with whom he has kept in touch...but for all that you'll have to abandon your anonyminity. You can contact me from my website,

  5. Hi Franis,

    Only "Anonymous" because my Google ID isn't working here, for some reason. No need to track John down. Just glad he's still around.

    Was also surprised to you call John famous, since back in the seventies, that hadn't happened yet. I did see some paintings online by a John Milan (mostly food and wine things) that I guess could have evolved from the watercolor abstracts he once did. Do you know if those are his?

    BTW, your own story above is just wonderful!