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

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Journey of Old Journals: 1980

The Spiral Bound Series: 1980
Concerts, Bermuda, Graduation from High School and my first semester of College 

This opens with concerns about my friend, C, who apparently ran away just before I started my trip to Literary England. I groaned a lot about being on the bus, as we went all over the continent and up to Scotland too. I talked a lot about sex. I got really drunk in a bar in Hastings for my 18th birthday, writing of my friend who escorted me up a few flights of stairs and into bed.  My co-conspirator Jim showed up to board the bus with a 3-foot promotional bottle of whiskey (empty). Others in the group were judgy. 

I did not go to my senior prom, but my sister did. I think I probably got drunk instead. C had another attempted suicide and crashed her parent's car. 

Shortly after returning, I packed up the parent's station wagon and road tripped with a few friends to camp out in advance of the Eagles concert at Yale Bowl, with Heart and the Little River Bank opening. We filled a watermelon with vodka because no glass was allowed, we wore matching T-shirts that said, "US Coke Team" with our first names on them. 

I graduated. 

I went to Bermuda in July of that year. I think my sister and her boyfriend went, too. That might have been the show where the MC called me out for attending alone. I did a lot of writing. I wrote of the evening peepers, the blue-green ocean, big frogs, grief and loneliness, hibiscus, Kay's accent, and the wonder of my grandparent's house on Burnt House Hill, "Outlook".

The summer progressed with the 1st Annual Romping Stomping BBQ Keg when my parents were out of town. We had submarine races at the Hudson River, under the bridge with the townies were on Saturday night, youth would play music and drink. There was a wild road trip to Albany for a Frank Zappa concert. C got kicked out of her house for having her boyfriend over in her bedroom. 

In the first week of college, I had acute low blood sugar, caused a scene trying to get food out of the vending machine without any money, and apparently lost conscious control and was taken to the hospital by ambulance. I didn't write about this at the time. I was barely in for a few hours to stabilize,  but I remember the elderly woman in my room who was losing her second foot to neuropathy. 

Later,  I must have had another episode of low blood sugar and pissed off a new friend. I wrote to her, 

"Sometimes- all I would ever want to to be is normal. I know it will never happen (perhaps in my lifetime.) It's hard to really want to take charge and the system fucks you up so you feel as though you're fine and you're here to just prove to yourself that you can try and live normally, but you can't because you always need to make allowances for your body. Always having to be careful, always watching out for foods and drugs may tempt you into the darkness of death. 

Yeah, I guess you can say our alien race can be normal - always able to do things that normal people can. I'll never accept it. I can try, but I'll always be diabetic before I am a person."  

The Journey of Old Journals: 1978-1980

 As another winter begins, I am recommitting to the "never moving all the journals again" project. The premise is simple. I'll take a photo and add a few memories, recollections, reflections, and observations from those old words on the page. Hopefully, moving through at least the 2000s this winter. One step at a time. Letting go of objects, staying in tune with memories. 

The Maui Sunset Folder: 1978, Thanksgiving Trip to Hawai'i 

A few sheets of stationary depict a family trip to Hawaii in 1978. Big Island, Maui, Kauai, Oahu.  Black sand, waterfalls near Kona, huge ranches, swimming like a fish when snorkeling, graffiti spelled out in white rocks, a "smoke Hawaiian" t-shirt, my first exposure to the pedicab, and Klonk shoes. Showing up at a fancy restaurant on Thanksgiving without a reservation. 

 What I remember most is one of our last evenings on Waikiki Beach. A young man, "just sitting in the dark,"  asked Barb and me if we wanted to get high.  We used a matchbook crutch and he was apparently, quite silent. We just sat on the beach and spoked pot. I wrote about worrying about carrying the conversation. I remembered Barb not being entirely confident about this plan. I wrote of grief in leaving Hawai'i. 

The folder. 

The letter.