Kibitzing Kitchen Table: Thu., September 8


I’m back on Pat Angel’s acupuncture table. The windy season has returned to the Mesa de Bolinas, and as always, it brings with it the feeling that I am descending with a dreadful cold. It’s fierce this year, worse than ever, I told my husband who had just shrugged as he walked to the beach with the dogs, shouting over his shoulder “You say that every year . Tell Pat I said hello.

Pat is a Native American, tall and lanky with a piercing gaze and waist-length blue-black hair. She never wears shoes. Right now, she’s rolling joints with her long, slender fingers and fanning hair behind her on the wall as we wait for the needles to do their magic. A small wood-burning stove adorns the room. The only source of light filters through a large hexagonal window. The wind trolls around us, a series of cries outside our sanctuary.

Pat’s family lives off the grid just past Purple Gate in a barn-like house at the end of a short dirt road. About a mile from downtown. Her long white vintage Mercedes sits in the grass, next to her husband’s big red truck and a rusty tractor. The blades of a grizzled farm windmill float through the air.

The Angels live across from the Neiman Schell Ranch, where Pat’s beloved St. Bernard Lily was shot for attacking cattle last week. She’s inconsolable and I can tell by the way she holds her body, by her hooded gaze, that she dipped into her heroin stash today.

“Yeah, I use a little heroin,” she told me during one of our previous sessions. “Just enough to take over.”

I remember feeling a sense of danger, this person I trusted with my health, being so open about using illegal drugs. But also a feeling of intimacy. We developed a close albeit distant relationship during our sessions. Her heroin use said a lot about her: how she so rarely left her property, how completely unconnected she was to our little school community. Of all the visits I had made to her over the years, I had never noticed the arrival or departure of another guest.

But the wind. This is what brings us together every year. One of the six excesses that bring disease is Qi, which unites us in this tiny room where we share secrets and truths. Where I know I can count on her to stick one of her acupuncture needles in the middle of my forehead to calm the turmoil in my mind. Because there too there is wind, more violent than last year. Then the year before. More than ever.

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