London-born Peter Edridge got a poor start when he landed in San Francisco in 1971 looking for "sex, drugs and rock-n-roll"; "by my mid-thirties I had reached the end. I was broke and broken." But "sometimes God smiles on the truly stupid" and he became a computer programmer. The small company he worked for provided an "idyllic" life. Yet after a decade and a corporate takeover, he was out. It was 2002 "and the dot-com bomb had just wiped out the entire tech industry." What to do?
Well, you buy 30 acres of land near Igo in Shasta County, and you move. With encouragement from his wife Sheila, you start over. "Sheila's not my first wife," Edridge writes, "(the exact count is unimportant and it's not excessive for California), but, as she likes to remind me, she is my final wife. . . . She also likes to remind me that she's married to a very lucky man."
The story is told in "Burning Bears Fall From the Sky: My Amusing Story About Relocating From a Desk in San Francisco To a Remote Mountain In Northern California" ($15.95 in paperback, self-published; available at Lyon Books in Chico or write firstname.lastname@example.org). Edridge's self-deprecating humor at his attempts to fix the dilapidated A-frame on the property (dubbed "the mouse-house") and his acceptance into the community (involving lots of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale) are often laugh-out-loud funny.
Edridge will be signing copies of his memoir on Wednesday, September 15 at 7:00 p.m. at Lyon Books.
The title comes from the story of a frightened bear cub that climbed a power pole, was electrocuted and caught on fire, and in turn set a field on fire. "It seems in part to be a metaphor for the unpredictable world found outside the well-planned Zone of Civilization." But life also thrives on the unpredictable. Though he and Sheila have learned plenty in their years in Igo, it boils down to character. "The little community of Igo brought me face to face with a different world; one that is unimpressed with importance, or years spent in school, or diplomas or credentials, or careers, or salaries."
"We've changed," he writes. Call it the journey from ego to Igo.