I took a course in writing for film and television through the Learning Annex. I had a million ideas. The most potent one came from Chris Dewdney’s story about his wife’s brain haemorrhage and what it did to her personality. I started that one many times in many forms but never finished it in any form.
I wrote the story, Oblique Angles about the singer in a rock and roll band being secretly in love with his drummer. It was published by Cross-Canada Writers’ Quarterly. Stuart was enraged: Do you think I don’t know? Scott Thompson (Kids in the Hall) phoned me in tears of gratitude for telling his story. I had thought myself so clever – no one would know from where the story came – but apparently, I wasn’t clever. The magazine published it because they said it was “au courant”. That was 1981.
My poetry was accepted by Dennis Lee for publication in Poetry Toronto. He was very generous and his editing suggestions were perfect. At that time the Whitewall Review took some poems and bill bissett accepted two of my poems for inclusion in his anthology, end of the world speshul.
I was hired as a server at Le Rendezvous restaurant on Prince Arthur where I worked for the next ten years, the last four years in the capacity of dining room manager, or Maitre d’Hotel. Jean-Michel, the owner always hired me back after my travels – whether they lasted three or eight months.
Leatrice and I moved to Dundas Street East into a newly built condo-style apartment with a working fireplace. Unfortunately, it was across the road from the mission and a block away from a strip joint. One night I thought it would be nice to walk home, but at Sherbourne and Gerrard I realized I was in the midst of working girls who were working. I flagged a couple of beat cops and asked them if they’d walk me home. They did and were visibly grateful to be invited in for a cup of tea when we got home. Leatrice jokingly asked if they’d like a drink. After a couple, they left, promising to watch out for us. One night as I was getting out of a cab with a date, a brilliant flashlight illuminated the inside of the cab, and a harsh voice demanded that we get out of the car right now. My date gasped and gripped my hand. Oh you guys! I said, slapping one of them on the shoulder. We had some rough sorts appear at a Christmas party and just as we were wondering how to get them to leave, our friends in blue arrived. Most of the partiers had their pictures taken with our new buddies.
My therapist didn’t talk about his guru but I was intrigued. I bought a book, opened it and wept. Every time I read Bhagwan’s words, I cried. I could never have articulated what I was reading, but what I was reading, I knew. I knew it was true and it cracked open my heart. Still, I didn’t want to join a club. I started to go to the centre for meditations. The people there were friendly, but no one seemed to want me to sign up for anything.
By the spring of 1983 I couldn’t resist any longer. I needed to be closer. To be close to the fountain, to drink, to taste, to sit in his presence. No logic. I just had to. I became Ma Anurag Susan, later Ma Anurag Deepam: Love Light.
In early 1984 I went at last to the “Ranch”, Rajneeshpuram, the commune in the Oregon desert where Bhagwan lived, and spent three months working on the farm there.
I came back to Toronto, worked and saved and returned for the summer world celebration, came back to Toronto and worked and saved and went back again to stay for six months from January 1985. At the end of six months there, I had to leave for visa reasons. I went to Vancouver with the idea to work for a couple of months and then go back, but it took longer to make enough money and by the time I was ready to return for good, the Ranch had fallen apart – Bhagwan was gone and everything was being liquidated.
My parents had been living in the Cayman Islands since 1982, so I went to regroup there, to figure out what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go.
I was in love with a Rebalancer from Germany, who had been my long-time sweetheart, and he came with me to stay with my parents. But he had fallen for a Puerto Rican beauty and opted to fly on to Puerto Rico to be with her. I returned to Toronto.
One thing my sweetheart had left me with was a love for the bodywork he practised. For the next two years I saved all my money. In November of 1988, I left for Poona, India to become a Rebalancer.