Both Deadheads, Scarlet’s parents conceived her during a show at The Winterland Arena in 1977. They said it was during the extended jam between “Scarlet Begonias” and “Fire on the Mountain” that they made a clandestine trip to the bathroom and made love in a stall.
Scarlet was Rich and Rachel’s love child, and in the early-80s—after following The Dead for the first six years of Scarlet’s life—Rich and Rachel sold their van and put their college degrees in accounting and literature, respectively, from U.C. Davis to use and settled into a house in Sacramento with their only daughter.
Scarlet remembers little about her early childhood, other than sleeping in a van and always feeling loved by her parents. In elementary school, growing up in the dimming shadow of a Cold War—which her parents told her was manufactured by paranoid governments—she developed an antipathy for conflict and violence that has followed her throughout her life.
Her parents, however, had somewhat succumbed to the suburbs. While grilling on a patio where they’d smoke pot and drink local wines with friends and play through seemingly endless racks of bootleg cassette tapes, Scarlet remembers plenty of laughter and dancing. The only anger she ever saw riled in the adults was when Ronald Reagan’s name was brought up in conversation.
By early adolescence, Scarlet had realized she was gay and came out to her parents, who told her they loved and supported her. The family celebrated her bravery with ice cream sundaes at a small shop two miles from the community college where her mother taught. But in school, she felt plain and invisible, a quiet girl that no one disliked nor tried to know. However, she never allowed the social isolation to manifest in bitterness or anger; instead, she used to hone her senses of compassion and empathy for other people.
Then, during her junior year, she befriended a varsity soccer player named Amanda and the two became inseparable. Amanda was Scarlet’s first real best friend. Scarlet would cheer her on at her soccer games and volunteered as the team manager. But Scarlet also knew her feelings went deeper than friendship, something she could never articulate to Amanda. One night at a house party where Amanda’s parents’ were supposedly in San Francisco, she and Amanda drank too many wine coolers and kissed briefly.
Amanda never spoke to her again, devastating Scarlet at the age of seventeen where she learned the effects of human cruelty and vowed to never make someone feel like she did for the next six months.
Scarlet was also a voracious reader, inheriting her mother’s penchant for the written word, and with small nudges from Rachel, Scarlet developed an affinity for some of the Beat writers and Eastern philosophy. Scarlet then attended The University of Oregon and lived in Eugene for four years where she double-majored in world religions and philosophy and practiced yoga and Tai Chi with an old Hippie poet named Rex, who she met at an open mic reading in a downtown coffee shop. Some nights, alone in the off-campus apartment she rented with members of a female grunge band, she would write long hand-written letters to Amanda that she never mailed.
Soon after college, Scarlet realized that extensive knowledge of the theories of John Locke or Rene Descartes and ability to quote the Tao Te Ching didn’t translate to employment opportunities, and she took a job working as a waitress in a small diner in Portland where she moved with a college friend into a two-bedroom apartment and practiced her yoga in the living room.
It was in Portland where she met Helen, nine years Scarlet’s senior and an ambitious business owner invested in a number of local restaurants, start-up companies, and micro-breweries.
And Scarlet and Helen fell in love.
Recognizing her kindness and compassion and thoughtfulness, Helen placed Scarlet in charge of managing a micro-brewery, 15 minutes from the house they now share as a married couple, and ten minutes from Scarlet’s yoga studio. The Yoga Barn isn’t about a group of fit twenty-somethings in a hot room with sweat dripping down their Lululemon tops. Scarlet focuses on Kundalini and breathing, centering herself, and finding balance through meditation.
This training has translated a special type of leadership and work ethic. Scarlet doesn’t believe in barking or bossing, nor pulling rank on others—she insists on them using the word “teammate” as opposed to “boss.” If something is not being done correctly in the office, front room, or kitchen, she will quietly help her teammate by showing them how a job could be made more efficient and effective. And when she’s finished, she simply bows her head and presses the palms of her hands together, and says, “Namaste.” At first, some assumed this was pretense, but as they got to know Scarlet and appreciate her Zen-like patience, they realized she meant it. Scarlet was authentic.
Scarlet encourages her co-workers, especially when things get busy and hectic, to close their eyes and quiet their minds, concentrate on the present. One day, she sent a Gary Snyder poem in an email to all staff with no other explanation. Some of the employees under her supervision see her as zany and elusive, but most understand her supportive smiles and relative reticence works like an ellipse—a pause where they’re meant to complete the sentence. And Scarlet’s patience and focus on the individual person helps her lead through example by doing her own work, not berating those who don’t do their own. When unpleasant workplace situations arise, she’ll defer to Helen, not wanting to flame conflict. While at times her passivity can make her seem like a pushover, by and large, her demeanor works to her advantage.
And at the end of shift, before going home to Helen and their Chocolate Lab named Dharma, Scarlet makes it a point to smile at a teammate, fold her hands in front of her chest and bow her head. “Namaste,” she says.