In Search of a Sanctuary

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Tona, 1992-

“I feel that the universe is taking care of me in merciful ways.”

I have always been looking for a sanctuary. A spot, my spot, where no one can mess with me. The first sanctuary was actually here, I had a place on College Ave. Fancy! $1,100 a month! And I had no money left after that, she laughs. It makes you figure out your own way of living, and how you balance your money. I was doing it for the first time.

The second sanctuary was in North Carolina, when I was still with my daughter’s dad. Friends offered to let us hang out at their place until we got on our feet. It sounded great, and so we went out there. Me and him split up, and then it was just me and her. She was 16 months old. So, I got my driving license, bought my first car, a Volvo station wagon, and crossed the country with it. Somehow, things just seem to work out. Just like that, out of nowhere, it seems.

The third sanctuary was in Northern CA, Rio Dell. Ran into friends, who suggested I come, and I thought, ‘Yes! We are good now, everything is falling into place.’ At first, it was sheer joy, ‘Wow, a room, my very own, for me and my child!’ But later, I realized it was just a lesson I needed to learn. Not rushing into the first thing that comes along, being more patient, weighing things out.
The fourth sanctuary was a friend’s property in Washington, a great woman, also a mother of a little girl. The place needed a lot of work, and I tried to help as much as I could. I was running out of money and didn’t have a way to make more up there.

The fifth and last sanctuary was in Michigan with my ex-boyfriend. We wanted to get a place, find jobs, settle down. Trying to save up money for land and all that good stuff. We did all that, we got a big old house, we got jobs, everything was working out pretty decently, and then winter came, she laughs. After a while, you figure out your differences and find that you can’t see yourself with that person. We love each other still, but we aren’t supposed to be together. I’ve come to realize a few things from this last experience. First, I can’t live far away from my family and friends. At first it was fine, but after six months, I suddenly discovered that I have no one to turn to. Second, stop stressing out so much, trying to make your perfect, ideal dream happen, and rushing into things. And third, on a large scale of things, the entire West coast is my sanctuary.

Possibilities are always coming and going, and I’m staying open to them and do my best. I feel that the universe is taking care of me in merciful ways. I will keep on searching, but be content with how we are right now. We are OK. She is happy, I am happy. Sometimes, I dream about finding a sanctuary. In my dreams, it is a place somewhere in Northern California or Southern Oregon, with lots of trees, a creek or river, lots of dogs, a big garden to eat from, some goats, and lots of little children.


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Taco Bell, a Prophecy

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Tona, 1992-

“It was as if my body was telling me, ‘What are you doing, Tona? Why are you doing this to yourself?”

This will sound out there. A few years ago, I ran into this person, a psychic of some sort. He gave me a reading and told me, ‘You will be moving to the East Coast and work at a fast food place.’ That’s crazy, I thought. I wasn’t going back to the East Coast, and I certaintly wasn’t going to work at some freakin’ fast food job.

And here I was, wearing a black Taco Bell uniform, working night shifts, waking up just in time to put B* to sleep before heading out. It was sad, I couldn’t hang out with her during the day anymore. And it was surreal, watching myself in those uniforms, making and serving fast food, something I never in my entire life thought I would do.

It was long hours standing up, but wasn’t all that bad. I actually enjoyed working, I really did. It would have been better if it wasn’t sad Taco Bell, she laughs. But I liked the feeling of it, earning that much a day, and feeling that I actually did something. A sense of accomplishment.

But it wasn’t a life I wanted for myself or for my daughter. All across the country, away from family and friends, working at Taco Bell. I was depressed and started to experience anxiety. It was as if my body was telling me, ‘What are you doing, Tona? Why are you doing this to yourself?’ And then – bam, bam, bam – a few things lined up, one of which was B’s father wanting to spend more time with her. The universe was whispering, ‘Here is your way out, Tona, just do it!’ And I did, I packed up our things and moved back to the West Coast.

One day, I remembered those words from years ago and realized the psychic was right. It was almost a prophesy of my life. Some things from it are still happening, but from what I remember, that was the worst of it.

* Tona’s daughter



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Sea-Star = Sister

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Tona, 1992-

“Sea-Star, just in the way she is. One of us sisters. . . She gives without a thought, and it actually works for her.”

Her name is Sea-Star, spelled Sister. She taught me many things I am still learning to grasp, even today. She taught me how important it is for women to go past the petty things girls have learned over the year, and to connect and support one another. Women become jealous of each other, fighting over stupid shit, which is the opposite of what we need. It’s actually insane that it is like that, if you think about it.

Sea-Star, just in the way she is. One of us sisters. She gives without a thought, and it actually works for her. She says it comes back to her as freefall, one way or another. She is not worried about things, she just is. It used to absolutely boggle my mind. I once asked her if she wasn’t worried that things will not work out at the end of the month. ‘If I keep doing, it comes back to me,’ she said. And it does! One time she had a sewer problem in her old house. It cost $20,000 to fix, and she did not have the money. Somehow, some relative she did not even know, died and left her enough to cover it.

I nearly had my daughter at her house. Four years ago, and only now I am starting to fully understand what she meant.



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My Childhood, and a Memory

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Tona, 1992-

“To this day, one of the sweetest childhood memories I have is just driving up and down the 101 with my dad. The radio playing, the music, swerving around in the redwoods, my feet on the dashboard.”

I was born in southern Oregon. My parents, hippie folks, were travelling, just as I am now with my kid. We lived on the road for a while, and then my parents split up. My mom decided to settle down, got two jobs and a place of her own. And life stopped. Mom constantly working and stressed out, she never could hang out with me and my siblings anymore. There was love, I understand, but it took away so much. I was miserable.

At fourteen, I moved in with my dad, travelling up and down the West Coast, and that is when I was happy again. He figured things out, I was fed and cared for. We are still close; in fact, he just left this morning, after staying with us at my place for a while (referring to her yellow bus).

To this day, one of my sweetest childhood memories is driving up and down the 101 with my dad. The radio playing, the music, swerving around in the redwoods, my feet on the dashboard. When I’m driving up and down there now, I’m still thinking about it sometimes, wishing that I had a radio, she laughs.

It wasn’t even all that exciting, but it was nice. Just looking out the window on all those things. I saw them differently back then because I was a child. They were more crisp, more new. Now, when you’re an adult, everything is ‘Oh, I know all about that thing.’ Only once in a while we get to experience them as new again.



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Slab City

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Tona, 1992-

“Gigantic cement pools that were converted into a skating park. Trailers and colorful dwellings with solar panels that people built with their own hands.”

Down south there is an awesome place called Slab City, you heard of it?

We drive there every winter, when it gets too cold. It is about 40-50 miles east of LA. An old army base, abandoned in the 40’s. They smashed all the buildings, leaving only the concrete slab foundations. Gigantic cement pools that they made into a skate park. Trailers and colorful dwellings with solar panels that people built with their own hands. And a hot spring, the biggest hot spring I’ve ever been to.

We have been going every year. Many folks have been coming out there for years and years and years.


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