One Chance at Love
There’s a Russian saying that you only get one chance at love. I’m not sure whether that’s true or not, but I think the underlying admonition not to squander it, if and when you do find it, is worth reflecting on. I assume the reference is to the deep-seated attachment between human beings who find someone they can share their innermost feelings with—soul mates, if you will. Looking back, though, I would add to this notion of destiny, fate, or perhaps just plain luck, that maybe we only get one chance at love of other kinds, too—love of a specific geography, and love of the people and life that inhabit it.
I only came to fully appreciate this fact after leaving what was my home for twenty-seven years, where I arrived at the age of nineteen, and departed at forty-six. A place where I began as a migrant farm worker, over time I immersed myself in the counterculture cooperative economy of hippie Fairhaven, explored the San Juan Archipelago as a salmon tenderman, survived as a wood-cutter and carpenter, and enjoyed many horseback wildlife adventures in the Chuckanut Range. It is no exaggeration to say that I was in love with this part of the world.
I tell you this by way of introduction to my story, in order that you might understand the depth of my resolve ten years ago, when I chose to risk losing all I loved — including the companionship of my life partner of, at that time, fifteen years, and, eventually, even my life — to protect my adopted community from attack. You need to know all this in order to comprehend the emotions revisited in this book—emotions so powerful that it took seven years for me to realize the essential choice I made in the early to mid 1990s was between self-respect and material reward, a choice many struggle with today.
Last week, I saw Fog of War at the theater, which brought back to memory a time in my life when the obfuscation of truth drove much of my generation to drugs, madness, or an early grave. This book, I suppose — my polemic memoir — might be considered an expose of the fog of social conflict. Maybe, by writing this “fog-cutter,” the community I left, and communities I’ve never seen, can avoid the trauma we experienced. Maybe not.
Jay Taber, 12 February 2004
[ From the introduction to the second edition of Blind Spots. ]