Sunday, October 10, 2004

Remembrance, Part 1

Yes, it's me again...up all night, in pain and unable to sleep. I wish this attack would be over already. I wish fall would start, so I could have some respite from the heat. I wish I could sleep already.

It's strange how, when I have these prolonged attacks, my mind wanders to the past. Never the bad things, of which there is plenty to remember. Only the good. Maybe it's natural for the mind to take some solace in a time when there was no pain or illness. A time when I was young, pretty, able and ready to take on the world. It's odd how I can hardly remember what I did last week, but when I'm sick like this....I'll remember every detail of a day long ago. Peculiar, isn't it?

Today, I'm remembering a day when I was 17. It was after my father had thrown me out of the house for attending a family member's wedding. Yes, I know that sounds was. My father, then, was a drunk. And drunks are rarely rational. It's part of the disease.

I didn't really understand that back then, all I knew was that I was 17 with no money and no home. No driver's license. No ability to get a job....back then, in Ohio, you had to get a permit to have a job as a minor. My father would not allow me to have one. And I, in youthful pride, was not about to beg for it. I had some rough times, as you can imagine. But the day I'm recalling today was not one of them.

I was doing well, as well as I could under the circumstances. I had a place to live, with some friends, who charged me only $50 a month so long as I did most of the housework. I had a job, watching my stepbrother's children during the day while he and his wife worked, and some nights when they went out. I made $150 a week. That seemed like an awful lot of money back then. I ate most of my meals at my stepbrother's, so I had a lot of extra cash....probably the first time in my life I did. I bought myself clothes, make-up, extraneous crap I'd never really been able to buy before. I was at odds with my parents, working long hours with little social life....but I was happy.

On this day, I was with my best friend Fizz. I'd brought him over to the house to meet my roommates, and to show him where I was living. He'd been so worried about me since I'd been kicked out. In fact, it was Fizz who, a few months ago, reminded me of this day...I had forgotten.

It was summer, and we were off to lunch. It was a bit of a walk to the bus stop. It was hot out, and I remember just soaking in the sun, thrilled by it. I used to love summer. I loved the heat. It saddens me a bit to realize that I'll never have that experience MS is very heat-reactive. And many of my medications prohibit direct sunlight. So I'll never just bask in the sunlight again like I did that day. I'm glad I did it then, so I have the memory. How awful it would have been, had I been some anti-social hermit who never left the house. Which is not too different, come to think of it, from the way I am now. Sigh.

Getting back to the story...I was wearing a flowing white blouse I'd bought from a thrift store just a few days before. It was very much like the sort of shirt Prince and his band wore in the 80's. I loved it. It was my first time wearing it. I didn't normally wear white....but I couldn't resist this blouse. I was wearing a pair of tight black pants and calf-high boots with it. Fizz told me just a few months ago that it was the most beautiful he'd ever seen me. I had no idea at the time, of course. I was very down on myself in my youth. I thought I was very ugly, very fat. I look back now and wonder, what the hell was the matter with me? Why was I so down on myself? Surely, I wasn't the conventional idea of beauty---nor would I want to be. I was, and am, very punk. But neither was I this unattractive ogre I thought myself to be. And I sure as hell wasn't fat. What kind of world is it, really, that a 17-year-old girl, five feet eight in height and 140 pounds, thinks she's obese? I suppose, compared to some of the stick-thin girls I knew, and of course the Hollywood images that I was bombarded with, I was. Horseshit, of of it. I wish I'd known that then. I wish I'd known, also, that it didn't matter.

What a day that was, though. Fizz and I, walking along the street I lived on at the time, stopping by the UDF for a Coke and cigarettes. Going downtown, having a blast. I think we went to the Oregon District that day, to the apartment of our friend Chuck. He liked the blouse, me, he was a big Prince fan. We did some window-shopping....I bought Fizz some shirt he liked at the Goodwill. He, as usual, was broke....but for once, I wasn't.

I loved buying my friends things. I remember once someone accused me of "buying friendship." What a load of shit that was! I never bought anyone's friendship...indeed, I don't think it's possible. Anyone who could be bought in that way, isn't really a friend and is certainly not someone I wanted to be associated with. And besides, my friends had no problem returning the favor. That's what we did, back then. So many of us were poor or homeless. When one of us had a windfall, we helped the others, knowing full well that they would do the same when their time came. Those who didn't, were called "mooches" and treated with disdain. It was a symbiotic relationship most of us had with one another, the Street Punks of early 90's Dayton. If someone found a good squat, he'd tell the others. We shared fortunes, because fortune was rare and best savored with friends. Greed was looked down upon as destructive, selfish and shitty. You couldn't survive out there that way. You couldn't make it on your own. Survival--and safety---depended on numbers. Anyone who compromised that was avoided.

There wasn't always harmony; there were often fights and disagreements. But we did the best we could, all in all. For me, it was enough. I hope it was for the others, as well. It's been years since I've seen or spoken to any of them. I wonder how many are still on the streets. I wonder how many---like myself---made it to a nice life. I wonder how many are dead.

Sometimes, that life seems like centuries away. It sometimes feels like it happened to someone else, and not to me. So much have I changed.

Only a few months later, I wound up in the hospital with food poisoning, and was told I was pregnant with Phoenix. That one day changed my entire life. It led me down the road to where I am today: married to a wonderful man, with three terrific kids, living in a beautiful city. If I could go back and tell the girl I was that such a life was in my future...she probably would have laughed at me. I would have laughed right back. Life is funny that way.

Thinking back, I think the White Blouse Day was one of the last carefree days of my youth, if not the last day. I'm glad it is a good memory. I'm glad I have days like that to think upon, when I am sick and feeling horrible, as I do now. I am equally glad that such days are in my past, left behind me, only there for me to contemplate at my leisure. That is not my life anymore. I am not that girl anymore. I would not go back to it for all the world...but every now and again, it's nice to remember the good things.

That probably seems strange to some of you, dear bloggies, that I am thinking back upon teenage homelessness with a smile. But if there is one thing I've learned, is that you can dance in the rain. But that lesson, that is a memory for another time.....


At 10:51 AM, Blogger mdmhvonpa said...

Certainly not easier times ... just simpler. Greater joys found in lesser things.


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