So, this is a true story. Saw my family this weekend. They all still live in the area where we grew up. They see kids we went to high school with all the time. I live an hour north and never see anybody except my best friend from 5th grade, Lisa.
The crowd I hung around with in high school was, well, this is going to sound so weird, but we called ourselves freaks. You had to be there. It was 1973, it was a hippie thing, but the media had co-opted the term hippie, so we called ourselves freaks because that’s what uptight middle america called us.
We dropped acid before first hour when we bothered to come to school at all. We met for lunch outside on a set of steps used only by the custodians. On the menu? Beer, pot, cigarettes. Many of us didn’t have stable homes. Our parents were alcoholics or abusers or tough-love advocates. Lots of us didn’t have a place to sleep. We didn’t have cars or jobs or clean clothes. We panhandled for beer money and hitchhiked to whatever party was going on that day.
Lots of times we ended up at one boy’s house, listening to music. We loved Savoy Brown, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Janis Joplin. This boy had a basement bedroom. It was huge, big bed, another twin bed, a sofa, lots of posters on the wall, pillows, excellent stereo. We could smoke pot down there and nobody would know. While most of us had horrible relationships with our folks, this guy had the best mom in the world. She did yoga and kept a garden. She let us stay, fed us fresh veggies, worried about us.
We were lost kids but we felt brave and fearless because we had each other. I don’t know how we made it through school at all, but some of us did. Some of us cleaned up our lives, made something of ourselves. I did. Lisa did. But back then, when we were kids, I never thought I’d live this long. I thought I’d be dead of an overdose or murdered on some random highway.
Then I got myself straight. Married, had kids, went to college. These days I sort of forget about how it was when I was young most of the time. I’d fallen out with my family but we mended that, too, long time ago. So when I got together with the family over the weekend, and my brother said he’d just seen everyone from the old days at a funeral, I asked about that boy with the nice mom.
We’d been madly in love once, but he was in a band and couldn’t resist groupies. I didn’t like that. When I told him I was getting married, he said “marry me instead.” I didn’t. But I still thought about him, wondered how he was, wished him well.
My brother told me that boy with the nice mom is in prison for killing his wife. I still can’t believe it.