24 November 2007

Calling Olson, Calling Memphis

Sadly, I am not in possession of a misspent youth, but I did misspend a good portion of my early twenties to make up for it. Let's see:

College in Greenwich Village dreaming of black Doc Martens and blacker eyeliner. This was before the days when goth was popular with the under-15 set, back when it actually said something. Back in the days when you had to shop at hole-in-the-wall thrift shops down past Bleecker Street because there was no Hot Topic to make it trendy. My army coat was from East Germany, and my pea coat was vintage US Navy, not Old Navy, and had some guy's name stenciled on the neck label.

Flannel over tank tops and t-shirts. Not because of Kurt Cobain, but because of the dust and factory-height windows in the scene shop, which made heating impossible.

Tattoos and random body piercings. Yup, but this wasn't until I was 25. Again, this was when it still pissed people off. Annoyingly enough, my mom thought my first tattoo was cool.

Ditching out after college graduation and fleeing to the Pacific Northwest to become a poet. I picked Spokane partly because it was as far away as I could get from both New York City and my parents without leaving the country or getting wet.

Knowing several different ways to smoke weed without the use of rolling papers. To quote Carolyn Kizer, "After Spokane, what horrors lurk in hell?" I didn't really understand this quote about my beloved adopted city until the eighty-seventh snowstorm one December (with winter not safely ending until April) when the only thing open was the Rosauer's on 14th and Monroe, and the furnace quit.

Crossing the country in a 1965 VW bus with everything I owned, and my cat. It only took about ten travel days, plus four hours for a blown tire outside of Missoula, a tow for a fan-belt replacement that wouldn't stay replaced in Butte, three days waiting for generator parts in Livingston, Montana (which explained the whole fan-belt issue), and two days waiting for a master cylinder rebuild in Bloomington, Indiana, which is where we ended up when the brakes failed and we couldn't stop in Martinsville.

Rolling Rock, cough syrup, antidepressants, thyroid replacement hormone, pot brownies. Never eat the small brownies. They're small for a reason. That reason involves not leaving your body.

Psycho boyfriends. More than my fair share. I still can't convince my parents that this was as much about me as it was about them. Also, it should probably be disturbing that many of them had the same two first names.

Social disorder. No, not the kind in the DSM-IV. The kind that involves nearly getting arrested for all the right reasons while wearing a bag over your head to protest torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners. Except that was technically in my thirties.

Protests and general rabble-rousing. Well, this has actually increased as I've aged. I think I've finally gotten past my fear of being wrong, or being heard and misunderstood, or (worse yet) heard and understood. More importantly, I think I've finally realised that this angst? This tightening feeling in my ribcage? Is put to much better use when it's not all about me. That my adolescence was only part normal desire to rebel, to break on through, to lash out, to brood--and part serious clinical depression and odd behavioural traits that may or may not contribute to a diagnosis.

Because, frankly, that's what I lost those high school teenage years to. Not general stupidity, or partying or bad choices or melodrama or general operator error. But black, stifling, unabated mental illness. And I wish to God that one of us--even me--had seen it for what it was, and stayed at me until I got treatment sooner. My parents blame themselves, I know. But it wasn't their fault. They were the ones I was trying hardest of all to fool.


paisley said...

sometimes i think that might be whats wrong with me... but i really don't want to know.....

Tumblewords: said...

I'd never heard that comment of Carolyn Kiser's and am still chuckling. Ah, yes, indeed. I, too, have found that Montana is where cars break down. Repeatedly.

thorns said...

That is an awesome use of angst.

Patois42 said...

I'm struck by your insight into your past. It must have been often very scary for you.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Excellent post, you combine humour and insight very well.

I still buy my goth clothes from thrift shops.

Jo said...

Excellent post, we could have hung out.

Anonymous said...

Salvation Army was the mecca for the old greatcoats we all used to wear. Hot Topic is for n00bs.

I am totally mirroring your last paragraph, if I could only go back and visit my fifteen-year-old self and tell her what to do, and what NOT to do…not that I know so much now, but what a difference a few decades makes…