OWEENA, WORLD FAMOUS TRANSVESTITE
Day 46 Bernardo to The Train Tracks
On the road I see patches of burned trees surrounded by patches of bright yellow grass like the fire did not go out, this is where Icarus fell. The trees lay on their sides branches spread like broken wings. And on the same road the flow of the Ganges River in my mind. What has led me to this journey and to this love and to this spiritual path and all the big questions, and they all come together in this girl. Drama and love and epic journeys and extremes in everything because it gives me an acute sense of being alive, life like a tornado, but not just one, I have 5 or 6 lives and each is a tornado so even more drama tearing down houses and burning whole cities as we cross the continent, we are still in chaos. Find the River, and follow it to your Ocean.
Today the temple project begins in earnest. Literally a temple a day, offerings to the God of love, more drama, more extremes, more romantic foolish, naive traveler. Build them with colored glass and mirrors to catch the light like Shiraz and Qom, some of wooden branches tied into the shape of pagodas on Burmas Eastern plains, Zen garden tracings in the sand. I do see though, and have known for sometime that Alissa is but a tributary of some great river that joins a greater River Ganges and fed from some deep prehistoric ocean. But not like the ones we know where the river runs into the deep, but where the deep makes the rivers and they crawl up onto the land and even the tiniest creek has the water of the great unknown sea, the atoms of the deepest waters.
So I have known that Alissa is a tiny creek that represents deep waters, one face for the thing that has no face, one personality mask for the unknown. But I lean on it because it appears so solid and I can say, yes, the unknown has green eyes and sings this song and that and wears blue eye liner sometimes and drives a maroon Toyota and has cat named Linus and most importantly it holds me at night. It is easier to love something when you can give it a face. I know it is just a creek but I give it the reverence of its source because it is an equal part of that deep wonder. So Alissa, I will give you the temples and my breath and my soul because you came from that well spring of love and life and deepest ocean. You have brought the ocean to my high and lonely mountain top, running up hill, defying gravity, to give me a drink of water, eternal life. And if ever you recede I will follow and become a creek that runs downhill into Ganges river and to deepest ocean and to the deepest trench to the fountain head to find what I found in your arms.
Another plain of flat gold grass leading to low mountains. & miles east of Bernardo, which is its self only 1 building, there is a community called "Out There. " Tire piles and trailers welded together and a settlement of junk yards and Mad Max caravans and busses, broken RVs. Stopping to photograph a desolate stretch of dirt that ends in white sky, a van pulls up and the man/woman in the drivers seat says that she/he like my rig. "Call me Seminole Bob the Wanderer." And begins to tell me the story about how he once walked across the United States from Miami, Florida to Seattle Washington, for the 1962 Worlds Fair on a $20,000 bet. And we walked with a donkey and in moccasins and he won his bet and walked way with the money. But his great adventure in life was 30 years of traveling America and Europe as "Oweena, world famous transvestite."
Oweena was born a boy named Owen and has one hell of a story about how he became Oweena, which he has written down in a book he is calling Tales From Oweenas Closet. Come on back to the house, and I follow the van back towards Bernardo to a camper top and a broken down RV surrounded by junk, where he and his wife reside. Now that we know each other I am allowed to call him Oweena instead of Seminole Bob, I have found in my travels that there is often an introduction name , sometimes it is a second name, other times, wholly fabricated, used until the person trusts you. I have passed the test. Mrs. Oweena has offered up some bacon and eggs, toast and beans, cup of coffee and plenty more if you want it, and I never refuse food, and I do, indeed, want that meal.
In the office, which is the camper shell sitting on the ground, there is a computer. This is where Oweena does his writing, and he is eager to show me.
First he prints out a short article called Why I Wear A Dress, and then he prints me the first 2 chapters of Tales From Oweenas Closet. I read a little from the end of the second chapter on the screen, while it is printing, but I cringe as I find out that it is porn; incestual, lickem, slapem, lord have mercy on our souls, dirty truckstop bathroom, mental hospital, porno.
Chapter One is more mild and tells of a young boy who discovered the joy of wearing girls panties and make-up. Owen loved to play dress up with his cousins, and from the first time he tried on a dress at the age of 8 he knew that he would never be free until he could wear one everyday. Freedom! So he dressed up with his sisters and cousins and neighbors and stole their panties to keep in his secret stash, because sometimes he couldnt be sane unless he was wearing panties. His mother did not know how deep this obsession ran, and thought that the dress-up games were harmless, she even helped apply the make-up. One day Owens father found his son dresses to the nines like a little girl, and with his mothers make-up on to boot. Grabbing Owen by the ear he screamed, "Is this what you want! Is this what you want? You want to be a girl?" "Yes," Owen said, "I have always wanted to be a girl." And his father made him stay dressed as a girl as a sort of punishment and took his boy clothes away and made his mother buy him all new girls clothes and have his hair done up like a girl, and gave him a new name, the female version of his given name, Oweena. And Oweena became the happiest little girl in town. And his fathers lesson had backfired, because Oweena really did want to be a girl.
And he stayed a girl and when they moved to another town he went through middle school and high school as a girl and he claims that no one suspected him until a local politician tried to rape him and found out he was a boy. The local politician, to keep the boy/girls mouth shut, sent Oweena to a mental hospital where he was kept with the men, even though he was in a dress, and ended up being raped daily until he grew to like it and actively pursued it. And so this is where I began to read chapter 2 on his computer screen and cringed and had to stop. There had already been a great deal of incest ion his family and abuse and rape and a mental hospital and the ripples in his pond spread out to encompass just about anything you may now chose to imagine. I will not give these images words, but yes, he did that too, and also that, yes, 3 or 4 times.
Oweena is a very tough looking man, and he wears jeans and a red flannel shirt with yellow suspenders that are painted to look like tape measures. His hair is long and gray, he is 70 years old, very thick in the chest and belly, with breasts (from taking estrogen), and wears long earrings, strings of painted stars, eye liner and blue eye shadow, and lipstick. But he has the manliest face I have ever seen. We talk about ways of crossing the country a I eat my second helping of eggs and beans. Hes also done some wanderings on a bicycle with a cart and in a bus, crossing the country many times when he was my age. Bought a big school bus and a whole new rack of dresses with the $20,000 he won on his bet, and traveled the country. "When I wasnt running a stock wagon I was traveling around the country performing at show clubs as a female impersonator. Now you can say you have met Oweena, world famous transvestite. Oh, and speaking of dresses, Ive got to get this stuff off and breathe." Oweena then stands up and begins undressing, revealing a blue-green dress under his man clothes.
I will have to come back to see Oweena again, I am sure that somewhere among the horror stories that I dont want to hear, there are many more in Oweenas closet that I do, but there is a long day ahead of me. Journey on. Finish these flats which rise up onto the last mountains, passing the only tree for miles and it looks like a hanging tree. Orange light at that low angle of last few minutes, looking for a place to build a temple to catch the last rays, like an Anastazi sun clock spiral on a flat stone, pointing to the fire in the sky.
Blue Springs is up on the first shoulder of the mountain and a rest with coffee and country music, a warning to watch out for mountain lions. Beyond that we will walk until we hit the train tracks, but once we are there I remember that trains are loud, but it is too late, we are here, and the train tracks follow the road for many more miles. We sleep on the side of the road and I build a small fire because I want to see the muse. Trains go by every 7 minutes, all night long. .