My Life So Far–SF Bay, Ashland and Return

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Lest you think I left my psychotherapy to rot and mildew, that was not the case. Even before this, I offered my services as "parish associate" to my home church, Redwoods Presbyterian. (A parish associate is an ordained clergy who is not a pastor but helps a local church as a regular staff person, but very part time and who generally is unpaid.) I took on the portfolio of pastoral psychotherapy, seeing members and others at very low cost. Over the years, I was asked by Presbytery to become parish associate at two other churches and eventually Westminster Presbyterian Church in Tiburon.

I have gotten a little ahead of my story. In 1979-80, after more soul-searching, Tamayo and I did separate for the last time. The only good thing to say is that we did it right. We spent a lot of energy receiving counseling help, not so much to remain together, but to separate well. The result is that we were able to have a divorce ceremony with a liturgy we designed to say to each other, "Go on your separate path with my blessing and my love and with acknowledgement of how important our joint life has been for our separate futures."

(I am clear, at this late juncture, that if I had been good at all the skills I try to impart now in marital counseling, perhaps some of the pain might have been avoided. But one can never know and it serves not at all to run that line of thought.)

The result of all that work is that Tamayo and I have remained deep and caring friends for longer than we were married. In 2017, we will have known each other for sixty years.

In that same way, I have remained a member of the family. Tamayo's mother and I had a relationship until she died. My nieces have also participated in this.

Time to return to the days following our separation, the early 1980s:

Tamayo found a wonderful two bedroom townhouse about two miles from San Rafael. Frances (She later took the name Frankie) stayed with me and we all began a new life. Being the father of a teen-age daughter was a very strange thing. We all collaborated to be sure she got through high school. Along the way there were many adventures, but I'm not going to relate them. Those are for Frankie to share when or if she decides. Tamayo and I were proud of her for graduating. She took off then and started community college.

My life was heavily involved in the computer business and as parish associate at the Santa Venetia Presbyterian Church. The Santa Venetia church was a small community of about a dozen families. The pastor was a young woman fresh from seminary who was deeply spiritual and expressed that in art forms like theater and music. This was a difficult church, organized to serve the community which came from the Hamilton Air Force Base nearby.  When the base was opened it in 1932 it began to attract both the Army Air Corp members and staff, but also a large group of people to service the base. Then with the expansion due to WWII, the population exploded and Santa Venetia  was the residential area that absorbed all those folk.  However, after the base was decommissioned in 1973 and disbanded in 1976, the church began to struggle to find a purpose. The new pastor was only the last to try to make it work. It is no surprise that she was no more successful than two other more seasoned pastors.

I began taking ballroom dance lessons in 1984 and soon met a woman named Mary. Mary and I hit it off and fell in love. Among the things that sealed our relationship was that we both enjoyed puns and other language fun. Within a year, we had moved in together and were enjoying our relationship. We enjoyed our time together and our ability to communicate so well. We also rented out our middle bedroom to a gentleman who enjoyed playing language games as much as we did.

In 1987, we took an extended road-trip vacation, sleeping on the floor of my Dodge Caravan. We travelled to Reno, then down the heart of Nevada to Las Vegas and on east to the Grand Canyon and back to the Four Corners monument in Navajo Nation, through Utah and back via Salt Lake City and Highway 20. This was an amazingly wonderful vacation.

By 1988, I realized that I was tired of the business of computer sales. I sold the business to a colleague and just continued consultation with a few long-term clients. In 1989, Mary and I joined with our friend Nancy Woods, bought a small farm on a creek, just north of Ashland, Oregon. I'm not a farmer; with rare exceptions I seem to have a brown thumb. But I did have plans to create a retreat center on that land. Nancy and her two girls lived in an old trailer that we found on the property. Mary and I lived in Talent, about two miles away. The plans were to build a house on the property for each of us and then to build cabins for people who would come for retreat or workshops.

After spending a considerable sum and doing the work, we discovered that the real estate agent had failed to tell us that the property was zoned for one residence on the whole eleven acres. Eventually we sold the property to a local farmer. Nancy and the girls moved into Ashland. Mary and I stayed in Talent.

In late 1989, after accompanying me to the Ashland airport on several occasions and to the Medford Air Show, Mary commented. "David, you've wanted to learn to fly ever since I first met you. You are 52 years old. If you don't do it now, you will wish you did forever." "We can't afford it. The cost would be $6000." Her answer, "Yes we can, I have arranged that we will pay it over the six months that flight training will take, if you decide."

I did and we did. There were various gifts that we gave each other in the five years we were together. This was one of the most important. The fact that she knew me and pushed me to do what I wanted. Mary was never a brash, physically brave or  courageous person, yet when I returned from my flight exam and the examiner got out of the airplane, Mary was waiting to get in and take my first official flight as a pilot. We only flew from Ashland to Medford to get a cup of coffee at the Medford Airport coffee shop, but I appreciate her support. In fact, she often flew with me to San Jose, Gold Beach, Portland.

Her support in this was immense and I still appreciate all that she gave me.

I won't go into all the reasons we chose to part company in 1991. That's more private than I'm willing to share in this article. But I have always remained grateful to her for her love, support and courage. Mary was an amazing woman with a heart of gold. I will always have the fondest memories of our time together.

For most of the time that I lived in the Medford-Ashland area, I attended worship at the Presbyterian church in Ashland. I never became official parish associate, but I did receive many referrals for counseling.

This was also the time when I began studying hypnosis to use in my counseling/therapy. My first teaser course was a three-day workshop put on by the American Institute of Hypnotherapy. When that proved valuable there were many more classes and supervised hypnotherapy practice. culminating in certification.

At the same time, I offered my services in computer networking. Two of my clients were the Rogue Valley Medical Center and a high-tech research and development company in Grants Pass. Both were extremely interesting and supplemented by a few other minor clients, satisfied my need for income.

In 1992, a progressive candidate for the state legislature engaged me to use computer skills to help her target her campaign. This was before computers were in general use in small local elections. Few people know how to effectively use them. Nor did I. But when the campaign managers said, "It would be nice to know who voted Democratic in the last election," I was able to give them that information based on public voting records. When they wanted to order their precinct lists so that canvassers could have all the homes on one side of the street, I could do that. The result was that my candidate won. At the celebration, I felt good to hear her say, "David had a lot to do with our winning."

I loved the Ashland area. Ashland, Oregon is the home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival where professional Shakespearean actors bring out the depth of Shakespeare's understandinf of human nature. I learned so much from my time there, but by the end of the 1992 election, I was clear that it was time to return to the SF Bay area.

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