“To worry and harry and fret at silly parties, to deal in the interchange of vague hysteria, to wonder and not admit anything, not even admitting one’s silliness essential, to mope and accuse, and swoon because of it all (like drunks), this is being on the outer peripheries of life’s swirl.” - Jack Kerouac from his journals.
I was born in blood.
As are we all. Parents met in New York fell in love fast married quick moved to Berkeley a carpenter and a housewife set to leave a legacy of a loving family with two sons house property money in the bank. A good wholesome childhood for their boys with a tincture of their Finnishness. They were astride the whole wide world a handsome couple bound by their love and with kin all about and extended kin and friends aplenty and picnics and barbecues and cozy Thanksgiving and bombastic Christmas and ski trips and involvement in community and appreciation for the wonders and hard work and determination and two children they loved and were proud of and had fun fun fun with. Was all going according to plan the best laid kinds and then....
And then. The lunacy came. There was the legacy momma left me. Her wild sprawling arguments with people absent and I the bystander to her madness. The chosen one. Chosen to absorb the harsh screeching real life obvious ugly gruesome fact that the world was slanted crooked and not all that it was cracked up to be cause Mom was cracked up see. Angry paranoid just plain weirdanoid. But we all pretended that everything was fine perhaps in the hope that maybe it would be or already was for surely she'd snap out of it. Right? Wouldn’t she? All a bad dream? Nope sorry not the way it works. There was a heaping helping of reality at an early age. Too damn much matter of fact.
No tears. Here was something that was and dad was protecting me the best he could -- bless him -- but he didn't know what to do. Even as Mom spent away thousands and again thousands of our dollars. And even as she mixed alcohol to the max. So. So. So now there was slurred angry drunkenness to top it all off. Crazy weird now accompanied by intoxication. Yikes. Getting wor wor worse. But I was too young happy healthy to mope - too much.
Happy giddy days of ball playing till dark and for even a few delicious minutes after. That white ball arcing in the sky falling into my glove or that burnt orange ball arcing in the sky falling through the hoop or that white and black ball arcing in the sky falling to my feet to be kicked again or that oval shaped ball arcing through the falling into my arms as I ran fall speed to imaginary goal lines for imaginary touchdowns on real days of soft breezes and scattered puffy clouds. Always pants with grass stains and holes and scrapes on knees and purplish black bruises on legs and a grimace or a smile or an ooof! And on bikes cycling everywhere and nowhere down hills free and alive with the wind in my hair then at last home to The Beatles and their beat and the the meanings of their words and the thumping and the exhilaration. Finally the blasted TV and its infernal noise but at least it was a distraction and allowed me more escape from the huge elephant in the room. God is love I heard but I knew god only as some character in the stories told in Sunday school which were really just that. Stories. Where was this god fella in my life? Was it he who turned loose this maternal insanity in my life? Why test a kid like this? Cruel and unusual. I carried on still but no god for me.
And the rope swing over the water then the release and the immersion in the cool river -- body free and sensating with delightful prickles of happy liquid joy and spring up out of the water for the deep breath of gorgeous air and the exhilaration continued with another dive deep into the water before swimming to shore to repeat the ecstatic process. Streams of joy. There were joyful moments and ice cream and gifts and ball games so many ball games and track meets and ice hockey and boxes watching great athletes doing their thing. Inspiring exciting and more ways for the imagination to play. Making up games and competitions and seasons of play in my head. Sometimes I was the star sometimes it was made up names sometimes it was my favorite real athletes exceeding all expectation. Always a dramatic victory against all odds winner.
And next to dad in the car the most secure spot in the ever lovin' world knowing I was safe and going somewhere anywhere with my true protector and bestest ever friend and provider and mentor. Watching the scenery lush green or asphalt ugly or peopled or sparse or hills of cragginess or fields of growth and sometimes talking and listening to this sage who'd traveled the seas while a world war raged and he'd seen action and it had seen him and he had stories that invited even more play with my imagination. Zowie! Jumping out of car I galloped wherever we were going or stuck to dad's side proud to be his boy as he was proud I was youngest son and the world couldn't be all bad no matter.
But at home there was mom and her mania. Yeah.
I escaped deep into fantasy weaving happy worlds out of my fervent imagination. Then in adolescence I discovered chemicals that produced mad escapes from reality into wild worlds that could fascinate and terrorize and provide insight into the world I was trying to make sense of. I was terribly insecure and shy and yet a braggart self possessed with piss and vinegar and the belief that I was better and worse than anyone and I could and would do anything or nothing but no matter what never be mediocre because -- and here's the most important point -- I was so special. Me. Me me me me me me. How I loved myself except for those seconds when self loathing won out and god was I awful then but mostly no I was the be all and end all. I charged forward into life with reckless abandon. No fear of death. No fear of living. But a fear of life. Somehow I survived myself. Miracles.