Sunday, March 29, 2020

When the World Closed

~Going off-topic for the special circumstances in March. The journals can wait.~ 

There were inklings earlier, but we didn’t pay attention. Until my sib called with a drive to deal with contingencies of my elderly parents, when we decided not to come to the office again, and on that last day, when I scored the last dental hygiene appointment before their office closed down. Food shelves bare, the lone box of cauliflower pasta in the section, and the media exploded with toilet paper shortages. My work engagements were canceled, complicating my emotional and financial circumstances. I read posts from friends across the world, trying desperately to get home amid unpredictable travel schedules and uncertain information.

Then began the charts, the trajectories, the questions. Here at the end of the road in Maine, we felt safer as the bodies piled up in New York. I drew upon the emergency coping mechanisms, honed from Alaskan weather events, and Cambodian political uncertainty. Tried to stay certain in my strength, and bring in the Buddhist grounding of breath in turmoil.  

I organized the yarn stash and knit my way through stuff that was hanging around forever. I reconnected with old friends. I remained thankful for everything around me. The last two weeks in March passed as a brew of fear, isolation, and coping, hope for the future.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Journey of Old Journals- 1976-1977

 April 22, 1976

"This is a notebook that is going to be filled with everything I feel. When I'm happy, sad, or depressed, I am going to write it here.  I'm 14 right now. I'm a diabetic. There are a lot of problems with being diabetic. First, you have to take a shot every day, and you have to pee in a stupid little cup so you can test. 

I like boys if they are nice.  

I am ugly. My mother thinks I have pretty eyes, mostly you can't see them because I wear glasses. I wear braces and I hate them. My doctor thinks I should go a shrink. I don't think so. I have been to enough psychiatrists to know ever since I was a little kid. Tell more later."

This journal was the story of transformation: of leaving the 7th and 8th grade Junior High, filled with passive bullying and all the adolescent awkwardness, to embark on the dynamic arena of high school. 

By September 1977, I'd started my freshman year by drinking beers two weekends in a row. I was enamored with being bad, literally excited by intoxication and the reckless abandon it created in my mind. I started smoking cigarettes, and 3 months later I smoked pot for the first time. These actions created friends and a community of rebellion.  

I lost my virginity in Maine that summer, on the shores of Lake Pemaquid, under a large pine tree with a young man I was enamored with, who worked at the Boathouse. We smoked a lot of pot, but everything changed after that moment. He was crushed that I succumbed to attention without caring or a commitment., that he was the one who did the deed. In fact, I was happy to get it over with and move on.  My mother was furious with how late I stayed out, The blood on my underwear was a marker, a milestone, a jump off a cliff with no relationship to sustain me through the freefall of emotions.  My family never went back. 

The rest of the summer I spent with an older friend from High School at Kaal Rock Park, which was a large parking lot next to the Hudson River. Teens who had cars would gather, blast music from speakers, shoot the shit, and drink. My buddies and I would stop by the convenience store and cover for me by purchasing 6 packs of Genny Cream  Ale, wearing nice outfits, and there to encounter personalities from the rest of the city. Our sheltered suburban life had minor forays into the city.  Poughkeepsie the city was crumbling down, a failed pedestrian mall replacing a vibrant Main Street.  The cops had other things to worry about, so the teens were left t their own relatively harmless devices. I know there were incidents, eventually, as the world around us got rougher and cocaine arrived. 

"The day after tomorrow school starts. It's a new beginning but it also means the end of the Summer of 1977,  The summer of wasted days and wasted nights, of my first lay, but most of all-- the summer of a different kind of me. The one that thinks I can be really cute and funny and sexy if I am in the mood.  It's really been my summer."