Thursday, December 30, 2021

Journey of Old Journals- 1981


Beginning in the second semester of my freshman year, I begin to hit my stride. I'm getting great feedback from professors, classes are resonating, and I'm feeling the groove on the college experience. 

Conflicts persist with my freshman roommate, Barbara, who irons for relaxation. Pressing underwear and t-shirts fills her time when she isn't occupied with her boyfriend. She confesses to me that she'll never be without a man. Then, she kicks me out of the dorm room when she needed private time with the current one. 

The journal contains a few notes written on the eve of my sister's birthday, sharing my story of the time I let go of my younger brother while we were twirling around in anticipation of her party.  The story begins with me at the core, spinning my brother around with outstretched arms, our laugher as his feet leave the floor.  Energy abounds. 

The doorbell rang, and for a second my attention drifted, then I released him into a very large ground floor window. I hear the breaking glass, the screams of his 5-year-old self, his head hanging there. The shards cut my fingers as I got him loose.  B yells at me for ruining everything, and mom is calling the emergency room, and then reaching all of the parents of the invitees telling them not to come. I'm given a cold washcloth and told to press it to his forehead. Blood drips on the floor the drops extending like sun rays.  After my mom drives to the emergency room, I stand in the driveway to tell all the mothers that the party is off.  16 stitches, a Frankenstein-like scar on his forehead, and me still carrying this with me, still, 50 years later.  

I wrote of other traumas of the past and even those that occurred in the months of this journal. These, I am not ready to share here.  I saved the pages, however, to sit with at a later time. 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Journey of Old Journals: Nov-Jan 1981

 This journal begins with Halloween reflections of a party where I went in costume, drank too much, and ended up coming home without very specific memories of what happened, except for a discussion with a Sheik in an Arco suit.   

I wrote a letter to the teacher of a drawing class. I thought it would be fun to try art and see what would happen. Shortly after buying all the expensive supplies, I realized I was completely and totally out of my league. I'd gotten a C- on my poetry paper the previous day. The professor said, "look at what you did wrong" and laughed. I felt humiliated, inconsequential, and a bother from the others who were more worthy.  I knew I wasn't as good as the other students, who were likely taking the required course for the rest of their art degrees. 

I wrote of my volunteer work with the Help Service, a phone hotline open to the community, and made new friends. Now, I remember that we often killed time by flipping pencils into the ceiling tiles.  As the Thanksgiving holidays approached, I began to write more of my connections to the friends back home.  

We were a rambunctious bunch, heady in the days of ample access to marijuana, alcohol, and other drugs. There was a group of boys that I would meet at the train tracks down by the Hudson River. We would meet for beer, bonfires, guitars, and bad singing. Often, I was the only female. There was a fellow that was particularly sweet on me and I still have the beautiful wooden lap desk box he made for me. The group dynamics got complicated after I left for college (poor decisions when I returned home on breaks), and one particularly hilarious moment of car-necking when my knee hit a button on the radio and a radio host proclaimed, "Jesus died for your sins" and both of us collapsed into laugher.

The journal ends with narrating a near-miss accident with my family on a dark winter highway on the way home from Maine.  A car in front of us skidded on the ice, around and around, and crashed into the guard rail in front of us. As I contemplated the eventuality of death, I wrote a letter to my friends to be read at my funeral. 

"All I ask of you is ~when the summer nights are clear and the fire glows anew with another log~ that you sing those songs louder for me.  Friendship has always been a very important to me. The solace of your voices drifting up into the night with the flames will tell me that you think of me and the past times, however good or bad. I've always thought that one could anything when another human loves you.  When I'm gone, all I ask is that you smile and remember that you always crash land at reality airport. The river spirit flows on." 

And, in the final pages of the notebook dated early 1981, grumbling about my college roommate, I wrote, "I think I'll be a plant always looking for a pot, transplanted from home, adjustment periods, growing by still lacking real root space." 

I enrolled in W.S.I anyway. 

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Journey of Old Journals-1981

Not much to see here folks. another year early in college as I was navigating through a new identity. I drank too much. I had a bad trip. There were a lot of internal ramblings. One of the telling gleanings from this journal is remembering A. I met when visiting a friend in Plattsburgh.
Something clicked,  or at least I had an opportunity to experience intimacy and jumped on it. Andrew wore a colostomy bag. It didn't bother me; it was just something to work around. And as a diabetic, I felt like this was part of the “isn’t this interesting” experience.  I had no judgment. 
I remember that he lived in a log cabin in the woods. His house was cold with the living area heated by a wood stove. His bed had many quilts on it,  and I was surrounded by the peace of the mountains for a few days. This was a very special experience as it happened, a glimpse and moment of time, nothing more. I created a love poem filled with images of the night sky and stars, of breezes and delicacy. “You are my north star”, I wrote.

He continued to think there would be an ongoing relationship. I thought there might be something if he had mustered up and slowed down, but then the entreatments were offputting. I may have created a  hole he hadn't known existed before, and now he sought more to fill what wasn’t there.  

After he wrote me yet another letter, I wrote a break-up poem. It was brutal. ‘He was just a sensitive worm unaccustomed to sunshine.  Therefore he got burned. I don't care anymore but I would have liked to see the infatuation of a few mountain days fade into a black night from pink purple sunset clouds. The Stars wink reminding me of the dreams you had.  Don't try to be my friend, former lover,  you're joblessly sinking like your bank account.

Later, I made a note. My friend’s friend, whose brother I’d hooked up with, told me that I’d broken his heart.  

“The writers’ task is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty.” ~Virginia Woolf