Sunday, January 17, 2010

Monterey and Watsonville, CA

Today I went to a Peet's coffee after some some diving in Monterey. It was raining, and there were a number of people one might call itinerant taking shelter outside from the rain - dreadlocked drifter kids with guitars, etc. I live in San Francisco where there's some amount of that sort of thing so I didn't pay it much mind. Inside while I was standing in line waiting to order I noticed a woman with a piece of photocopied handwritten paper put inside a plastic protector sheet, along with a FedEx receipt, safety-pinned to her back. Odd, but again I see weirder things that that almost daily in my own neighborhood. But I was gazing in her direction when she looked at me. She smiled and said hello. I said hello back.

She asked me if I knew how long it took to get to Watsonville from Monterey. As it happened, I was going to Watsonville for the first time myself on an errand that afternoon, and I mentioned that and that I thought it took about 45 minutes. She said 'Oh, can I get a ride with you to Watsonville?' I hesitated, partly because she seemed odd and partly because my car was full of gear and I wasn't sure there'd be room. She said 'Please say yes,' and against my better judgement I agreed. She seemed harmless enough, and I figured it would be an interesting story if nothing else. As I got my hot chocolate and we were leaving, she handed a piece of newspaper to the guy behind the counter and encouraged him to get 'her letter' posted in the local paper. He looked confused and tried to refuse but another worker told him to just take it.

I brought her back to the car and made room for her. She told me that we needed to go over to the bus stop to pick up her suitcase. As we pulled out of the parking lot she said 'I've got man trouble. I'm suing 3 men in Miami, FL. Identity theft.' I just said 'uh huh' and we drove over to the bus stop. She wanted me to go get her suitcase but I wasn't prepared to leave her in my car with the engine running. She rolled down the window and yelled at some one standing there 'Excuse, could you please get my bag? it's the green suitcase over there.' The guy looked confused but brought the bag over, and then wandered off. She took a photocopy of the same handwritten page, wrapped it up in some newspaper, and called another person over and asked him to hand it to the man who had brought her suitcase, and to tell him to get it published.

She told me she was happy that I was driving her because it was easy for the men from the Brotherhood to find her when she was on foot, and that the Brotherhood does the Devil's work. I didn't say anything.

We drove off. I had to head into town to a scuba shop to return some gear I had rented. I asked her some very basic questions, and found out she'd stayed in Pacific Grove the night before, and was on her way to Davis, CA. She asked me if I lived in Watsonville and I told her no, San Francisco, and she immediately started trying to get me to take her to San Francisco. I wasn't prepared to be in the car with her for 2.5 hours, so I fudged a story about needed to see a friend in between. She continued to probe and asked if I could pick her up when I was done, and I hedged and said probably not. She told me that if I read her letter it might make me change my mind. I told her I was driving and I couldn't read her letter right now. She said that driving was good thinking time and she hoped I would use the time to think about it.

We parked near the shop, and I asked her to come with me - again, I wasn't prepared to leave her in my car. As I brought my gear to the shop, she followed behind me some, smiling. When I got to the door I looked back, but she was approaching somebody on the sidewalk, handing them another one of the letters wrapped in newspaper. I went into the shop and was returning my gear when I noticed she'd come into the shop and was just hanging back, not speaking to the counter people. When I finished up, she stepped up to them and offered them a letter/newspaper package, again asking them to publish it in the paper. She then asked if I was done and I said yes and we moved on.

Back in the car, I asked her if she had friends or relations in Davis. She said yes, 'I'm going to see a Jewish sister there who's an expert on the tracking microchips that the police put in everyone they detain. Which of course they do.' This wasn't exactly a conversation starter, so I asked her again about when she'd gotten to town. She said again she'd stayed in Pacific Grove last night, and that her hotel was paid for by some Seventh Day Adventists. She said that Pacific Grove was really beautiful, and we had some idle chit chat about that. I obviously thought she was nuts, but again on an interpersonal level she was mostly very nice; not threatening, not saying anything rude or completely non-sensical exactly. I asked her where she was from and she said 'I like to tell people I'm from Davis.' I asked her if that was where she was really from and she said no, she was born in Tennessee, but she was from Davis.

We headed north. She offered me some oranges and I declined. She asked me if she could use the mirror and I told her of course she could. We'd alternate between silent periods and then she'd make a conversational gambit. She asked me if I was married or had children. I told her no, and then added that it wasn't legal yet (I'm gay). She laughed and asked me how old I was (35). She said 'I know about guys like you. You get to about 40 and then you find some young girl and you get married. Oh yes, I know lots of young girls who marry the older men. You'll find your girl someday.' I asked her if she had any children and she got a little terse and said no, no children. She had never been married. She stated that a few times.

We passed a sign for Nashua, CA and she said 'Nashua, NH. It's a nice town.' I told her my brother lived in Exeter, NH, and she said that was a nice place too. We talked geography a bit, and I mentioned she seemed to be a long way from Miami and from her troubles. It got out that she'd really traveled quite a lot, and she seemed to know a lot about different areas of the country.

Eventually we got to Watsonville. She asked me a few more times if I wouldn't take her to San Francisco, but I was firm. She had originally told me she wanted to get to Watsonville because it was a better place to get a bus to Davis, so I told her I would help her find the bus station. She told me to ask the drive-in at any McDonald's or Burger King; they always knew where the bus station was. We happened to pass a Burger King right then, so I went into the drive-in and asked about the bus station. This confused them a fair bit, but eventually someone in there was able to give us directions. As I drove her towards the station, she asked me if I would be willing to donate to her photocopy fund so that she could make more copies of her letter because there were only 30 left. I declined.

As we got close to the station she asked me what direction the station was in. I told her and she said to pull over right there, 2 blocks from the station; she was going to get out and give out more of her letters first. She had motioned to the parking lot of a sketchy-looking taqueria. So, I decided to do as she asked. As she gathered her things, she encouraged me to take the letter back to San Francisco and have it published in the newspaper there. She also said 'If you find those 3 men and put them in the cemetery, you can keep the money. And it's a LOT of money.' As she got out and gathered herself, I told her to take care of herself. She looked me straight in the eye and said: 'Don't say that. Don't say take care. If 3 men are police officers, and are black ministers, and they tell you they're married to you and take all you're money, and try to put you into a mental hospital because they say you have poor mental hygiene and are unfit to take care of yourself...that's RAPE.' I didn't really know what to say to that, so I just wished her well and drove off. As I looked back she was already giving her letter to someone else in the parking lot.

About 30 minutes later I got a call from the scuba shop, asking about that African American woman that I'd been in the shop with earlier that afternoon. It turned out that one of the store employees had read the letter, been very perplexed and intrigued and weirded out, and googled her. He found the information on this site and other sites about Marilyn, and had read about her run-ins with the police and such. He called to check in that I was OK and that I knew what I was dealing with. I had already left her, so we ended up just trading stories, he telling me what he'd read and me telling him my part of the Marilyn epic.

I've attached her letter, which includes a copy of the letterhead of the hotel she stayed at and a copy of her room key, apparently. It's almost like she wants people to follow her. A friend of mine thinks it's very elaborate performance art. I'm not sure, myself.