As I previously mentioned, I got sick with a virus Sat. night, a week ago. The sore throat was brief, the coughing, congestion, fatigue, quite serious. I did call the doc on wed... the nurse there said it sounded like "a virus that was going around". "Let it run it's course", the nurse said.
It's just as well... it gave me time to ponder the mysteries of life... especially my own life. It also gave me a good reason to rest, and do nothing but think. The whole reason I have a blog is to share my life with others. I want to share because somehow I got caught up in the era of "Who Am I"? And I took it to heart.
For those new to my blog there were three major influences to who I became... by age 24.
1) A conservative, conventional, middle-class, Depression era aware, post WW ll, family, who believed in the "one road" through life, theory, which I challenged. To make things a bit more confusing, my father was a atheist, my mother devout Christian. I grew up going to Sunday school, then confirmation studies that were two or three summers, and eventually I said "no" to organized religion, and decided to find my own truth in life. It was the 1970's... and although to my family it was still the 1950's, I somehow managed to flourish during the 1970's, and education, sex, and self-awareness were my mantras.
2) None of this would have been possible without my introduction to cannabis, though I don't remember the exact year it happened, it was after I'd graduated HS.I was over 18, and a virgin too. I'd nearly died at age 16 experimenting with alcohol... never could hold my drink, until I turned 50. Cannabis brought my mind into focus... in a way that's nearly impossible to explain. I can simply say I became aware of myself.
3) Books. Need I say more? I was a voracious reader most of my life... sci-fi, mysteries, true-crime, fantasy... but the book that really did me in was a book I have listed in my "Media List", Ray Bradbury's, "Frost and Fire". The story perhaps should be obliterated from our society, as well as others that give us the means to become self-aware. One of my other most influential writers was Henry Miller, whom you may know from the "Tropic of Cancer" novel. Well, he wrote a lot more novels than that, and if I was to nominate the best writer to represent America, it would be Henry Miller!
May 1979... I quit my job as the custodian at the college where I worked. I was 24 years old. My plan from the beginning, around 1971 when I got the job was to do it for 3 years. In hindsight it was my first BIG mistake. And I realized my motivation was influenced by my family and expectations. It was a great job. Good pay, great benefits, great environment... in fact, a friend at the time who really envied me, got my job, got married, had over 6 kids, and as far as I last knew, lived a happy life, retired with a great pension and is still a good life. But in my family, the job was - lets just spell it out - a DISGRACE.
So I had the plan... yeah, a plan... that got completely scrambled, with a crescendo the night before I was off on my "new life in Arizona". It wasn't odd, that part... many friends were going west, to AZ, CA, CO, TX... anywhere but NY. It's just... I had no reason to truly leave... I had a good life... and what happened the night before I was to give it all up, hell-fire on an already doomed man...
All of it came down to the fact that at 24 I still hadn't been able to break the family-umbilical cord... as independent and self-aware as I was, felt I was, my family had enormous power over me still. The part that made it so vital was the sincere concern... the problem was they we're me. And the simple fact they couldn't get over the idea of me cleaning toilets, made it tragedy. Cleaning toilets was a minor part of my job... and a humbling one. You'd think a Christian could accept a job where cleaning toilets was okay.
I hadn't said much to my parents about my leaving for AZ. But they were pretty curious. My father remember, he really was interested in my ideas, though some even he found odd. It was my mother with the rule-book to the "shortest road".
The night before I was to leave with my friend Earl for AZ... I phoned my parents from an office in the ARTS building where I worked, where so many memories were around... very good memories. I spoke to my father briefly, then he handed the phone to my mother. I told her, "well, just calling to say I'm on my way tomorrow... off to AZ".
It was a long-shot... a subtle good-bye... it didn't work.
"You haven't told me anything about where you're going or where you're living".
Fair enough... "Flagstaff, mom, and I'm going to be living with a good friend who moved there a year ago and is very well settled, a friend from college."
"What friend", my mother asked?
I have to pause here to explain, during the past 5 years, since I moved away from home at 18, my mother hardly ever approved of my friends... and we'r talking white, middle class people... too bad I got to know so few minorities, but in the 70's, minorities were still feared. And apparently so were my friends... and it happened the friend I was going to stay with was a woman who I adored, but had never had sex with, and we accepted that. Friends, End of story.
Well, back to my mother... she insisted on knowing who I was going to stay wit... you'd think it simple to just tell her; truth is, I should have hung up the phone. But I didn't.
"Mom, I'm going to stay with Michelle for awhile". I said.
I don't know how many people out there can understand why what happened next was so traumatic to me... but it was.
A simple phone call the night before a move in life I really didn't want to make... but the town was too small for me to stay, and everyone was "going west" back then. Or so it seemed.
My mother, upon realizing I was going to live with yet another (#2) woman, short-circuited - she damned me to hell, cursed me and told me that happiness would never me in my future, etc...it was pretty sick. But you know... I know now it wasn't as much her, as the culture believed in. It would take many years to understand that. The immediate effect was one of total defeat - instantaneous childhood regression...
I had a job interview and the University of Northern Arizona, I had written to them, got a reply based on my submitted resume, and encouraged to meet with them...
I had two close friends in neighboring Phoenix, AZ, that if things required, I could move down there.
But I never made it to the job interview... although I did visit my friends in Phoenix; never made it to the Grand Canyon, though I was in Flagstaff a month... my friend Michelle had a boyfriend by then, and we got along fine. My cat Pyramus liked it there. Everything I owned was then, dropped off by my friend Earl who I'd lived with most of my early 20's... while he continued a western adventure in his Ford 250... years of preparation...
It evaporated in a cloud of chaos...
Within the month I'd boarded a Grey-hound bus, leaving much behind... including Pryamus since he wasn't allowed on a bus or plane. I'd begged my parents to let me come home. I needed money. And I went home. I lived there with my parents a few months... they felt they'd been "right", about many things they had no idea about... I was 25 by then an had lived on my own almost 7 years... what happened was a catastrophic clash of parent/child boundaries. A year or so later i wrote a letter describing the whole issue. I was told by my father "the letter would be destroyed and forgotten". Ironically, I have the letter - it was in his belongings after he passed away. I haven't had the nerve to read it. Suffice it to say, I moved out as quickly as I could. At 26, I had a lot of personal power, but a huge personal weight.
What followed were years using the energy to find myself again... this time in Boston, MA.
Next time... never make plans!