I turned my bicycle into Ed and his bike. I didn’t know he had chosen that moment to pass me, and he didn’t know I was going to turn left there into a driveway. But I knew a shortcut. I thought he was behind me following. I was pedaling uphill and needed both hands on the handlebars, so I wasn’t able to signal. He fell in the street and skinned up his leg, but he wasn’t mad! Skinned up like that anyone else I knew would have been furious!
My first boyfriend was Ed Wilson. I was 17, he was about 23. I had met him on camp-outs with my cousin, Mary. He had the reputation of being a strong hiker. I had proved myself also as being a strong hiker. By the time we had met, on my third Muir Trail trip, we had both heard about each other. He bicycled 200 miles round trip to visit me at my family home in Fallbrook. He lived in the Pasadena area. He bicycled all the way, past the orange groves and lemon groves that used to line the two or four-lane highway in those days, to stay for a few days in the boy’s room.
At the time of the bicycle accident, Ed and I were on our way to the Deluz wilderness area. We were still close to the house. We went back and he washed and wrapped his wounds, then we started off again. We knew we had to do as much of the trail as we could and get back before dark. We stopped to make out. I had never had a guy’s tongue in my mouth before. That was nice. He must have made the trip twice, two different weekends because he introduced me to one pleasure at a time. He didn’t rush me. On his first trip we got dropped of in Temecula and hiked down the Santa Margarita Valley to DeLuz, then walked up Willow Glen Road, then cut across from Hamilton Lane back to the house on Alvarado. During his second trip we rode our bikes down Willow Glen, then back up Deluz Rd. We kissed and petted, very slowly through the bases of the baseball game of love, but we didn’t make it all of the way to home plate.
After he pedaled back to his home, we wrote letters to each other. The selective service was trying to conscript him for three years of military service. To avoid that, he enlisted in the army for two years. He wrote me that he would call me when he got out of boot camp, and let me know when to expect his call, a few weeks after I would graduate from high school.
Pathetically, I would sit by the phone for hours, and he would never call. I would eagerly retrieve the mail, but would receive nothing from Ed. He who had introduced me to pleasure was mow introducing me to a bleak agony. I would find out later he had slept with another of my cousin’s friends, Lynn Foster, and lost his virginity with her. I would be devastated. I would feel that my whole world had crumbled around me. I would inflict anguish on him in return if I could.
I would mail him a letter with no greeting, no closing, only these 26 syllables:
my sandcastle was founded on an inflated balloon the balloon has been raped goodbye my fantasy
I would receive a response, a very short one that simply said something to the effect of, “That’s good, we will have reality now.” It didn’t begin to address the tremendous pain I experienced and was experiencing. I decided he lacked empathy and was not worth bothering with. But two years later, I would become involved, for five years, with someone just as short on empathy, maybe even more so.
A year later, when I would have a room at the House of Awareness near Hollywood and Vine, Ed and I would meet for an evening and night while he had leave from the army. We would walk around Griffith Park then spend the night together in my room. By that time I would have a few notches on my lipstick case, but would refuse to have sex with him. In later years I would hear that Ed had gotten through his two years in the Army okay, and had somehow avoided going to Vietnam. He would marry and work as a forest ranger.
Mom and Dad Care for Grandpa Jones
When my father’s father, came to live with our family, he was addicted to barbiturates and sleeping pills. Under a doctor’s direction, my mother weaned him off of narcotics. He was back to his usual self after that, but died a short while later. When Mom was caring for elders it was important to her that they be at home with loved ones, if at all possible, and not be drugged.
Singing at the Park
I would scan this photo on a newspaper clipping that I would find in a shoe box inside a trunk at my parents’ house many years later.
After graduating high school, the graduating class was bussed to Disneyland for the night. I hung with my three best friends, Rose, Margie and Lianne.
Margie and I had been in a talent show when we were Juniors. She had sung Summertime. This was prior to Janis Joplin’s rendition of it by a few years. I had played chords on the guitar for her.
I remember discussing perverts with Margie while we had been in high school. She had told about a Mexican laborer asking her, did she want to make a baby? She had thought he had been disgusting.
Margie would be the only one of the three who would attend Palomar college with me the next two semesters. Margie would take Spanish the first two college semesters. She also had taken Spanish in high school. I would take Spanish my third semester, but she would not be at Palomar that semester.
The last time I would speak with Margie Groh would be around 1979. I’m not sure how we would find each other’s phone numbers since we both would move around a bit. She was friends with Jeri Bower, whom my parents would invite over to dinner with a man they would want to set me up with, Jeri’s boyfriend, and myself, after I would leave home, have a daughter, then return home when the marriage would fail. Jeri would hook up with the one Mom would intend for me and then would commit suicide a short time later. She would possibly be depressed about using a colostomy bag. Margie and I would discuss her suicide, and Margie would be fine with it, saying something like, “That’s beautiful, she did what she needed to do.” Margie would mention having sex with two guys at once during one of the last conversations she and I would have. She would express gratitude for giving birth even though she would have lost the baby. I would be sad for her. She would follow some group called Seth Speaks. It would seem creepy to me. Margie’s name would appear on the list of deceased at the 20 year reunion in 1986. I would hear a rumour that it was suicide. Guess my problems wouldn’t be the worst.
Rose and Margie would come to see me in Pasadena while I would be living there. Rose would have a sports car. Margie would tell me Rose was married and had a son when Margie and I last would speak. Rose had once told me that her dad had sexually assaulted her and threatened to rape her when we were high school seniors. I remembered her dad had picked me up and held me when I had stubbed my toe while visiting Rose at her family’s home in Rainbow, sometime during high school. He had seemed to be making more of it then it was worth. Once when she had spent the night at my family’s home she had wanted to sew something. We had found some material that my mother had said we could use, and we had made a sack dress for me with two different pieces of material sewn together. One side had been a black and white white print, the other half had been a solid red. During one of the sleep overs we had, Rose had wanted to explore sexually. I had loved her so much that I had not wanted to judge her for convincing me to masturbate her a little, but I had not been interested in being sexual with another girl.
Once we all had gotten together for a slumber party at Lianne’s and had discussed our favorite Beatle. I had felt I should pick one. I had picked George.
At Palomar, I would hear one of our classmates, Suzette, telling about Dennis and the daughter they would have together, conceived during our senior year in high school, while Dennis was class president. They were a white and black couple. A relative of Dennis’ would adopt the child. We would be part of a group and she would not be talking just to me. This might have been my third, their fourth, semester.
Grad night was great fun but exhausting. I probably knew it would be the last time I would see many of my friends.
The summer, of 1966, after graduating from high school, my mother and I spent a week at Unitarian Camp. It was held at the same campground in Idyllwild, California that the Foursquare summer camp had been where I had gone with my best friend, Leslie, the year earlier. Mom wanted to make sure I had some balance for the Fundamentalist indoctrination I had gotten at the Foursquare Camp. She was surprised and dismayed by all the group encounter stuff, where people said rude things to each other, and free love talk at the Unitarian camp.
That summer (1966) Benjamin Speck murdered student nurses in Chicago, and Charles Whitman committed the first mass killing that I had heard of with a high powered rifle that had a telescopic view, from a tower at the University of Texas. The Tonkin Gulf resolution of 1964 had resulted in a substantial increase in the deaths in Vietnam.
The Beatles’ Good Day, Sunshine! was blasted through the intercom at the Unitarian camp.
One of the speakers at the camp was from Watts. He ran a program called Operation Bootstrap. I’m embarrassed about this, but after he spoke, I stood up and sang, We Shall Overcome. Others sang with me. I had my guitar. Later that evening, I gave him a hug. He pressed one thigh between my two and gave me a sexy kiss. He tasted like tobacco. I enjoyed my heavy breathing arousal for a moment, then turned and walked away, my arousal dripping into my underwear.
Someone told me several women there had sex with him. He was the only black person I saw at the camp. I was glad I wasn’t one of those women.
When I was in Palomar Community College, during my first semester, I had a blushing problem. Certain words seemed to trigger an emotional state that I apparently had no control over. It was completely mystifying how aroused my embarrassment would become over words that had nothing to do with me. Many years later, I would gain the insight into what was going on. I had some kind of an emotional knot of reactivity that, once triggered, made any attempt at a rational response impossible. It had probably formed when the words heard during a traumatic experience had become associated with the trauma. Later, those same words elicited a perplexing emotional reaction.
As a college freshman, I would turn crimson every time my German teacher mentioned his wife. It was beyond embarrassing. Later, I would speculate that my father may have yelled something about, “my wife…” while beating me, or shoving my face in a puddle of pee, when I had been small, and those words had become so associated with physical and emotional turmoil that the very words would trigger emotional turmoil. At the time I understood nothing of this, so I made arrangements to see my cousin’s psychologist about my blushing problem.
My cousin, Mary, was in group therapy with a Freudian psychologist in the Pasadena area, where she lived at the time. I had met him and his wife about a year earlier, when breaking up with one of Mary’s friends, Ed, the one who had ridden his bicycle 100 miles each way to see me. At that time the psychologist and his wife had counseled me a little, telling me this was just the first in a series of heartaches I would face before finding a successful match eventually. Mary arranged for the psychologist to see me one day on a weekend about the blushing problem. I just told the parents I was taking the bus up to see Mary. They never knew about the psychologist nor the horrible advice he gave me that would have them wringing their hands and wondering where they had they gone wrong.
Dr. Dale Dunlap told me I needed to lose my virginity, and his wife, Margaret, agreed. After advising me to shed my virginity, there was some discussion about birth control. I thought that if this is what I am supposed to do I won’t need pharmaceuticals. (In other words, if I am doing God’s will, God will protect me from unwanted consequences without taking drugs that I knew to have some unwanted side effects. I didn’t mention anything about God out loud because this was just my personal faith. I couldn’t expect someone else to understand it.) They must have reiterated their point and I must have suggested getting myself sterilized, because I remember the lecture against doing that. Thank God I didnt!
Much later, I would have had the chance to find what I really needed, which would basically be a life of spiritual practice, which I was doing one of the things, reading scripture, but the other thing, daily meditation, I would learn about later. When I would learn the transformative power of meditation, and do that for myself, I would be as appalled at the lazy way this psychologist treated me as I was the day I received his advice. The only difference is, at the time I received the advice I only suspected he might be wrong, I wasn’t sure, so I decided to give it a shot. After all, I had come to him for advice, and what did I know?
My friend, Robin, whom I had met at the Unitarian summer camp where my mother and I had gone the past summer, took me to a Halloween slumber party in 1966 in Topanga Canyon (Los Angeles area). Prior to the Halloween party, Robin had taken me to Ojai (about an hour beyond LA). Robin and I attended an outdoor lecture by Jiddu Krishnamurti there, who was in his eighties at the time. He spoke of finding your core values and being who you are. The way he spoke, to a group of people standing around him in an outdoor seating without a microphone, with everyone quiet and listening intently, made me think how it might have been listening to Christ in the first century. It would be many years later that I would learn that Theosophists (those in a movement founded during the 19th century in New York which emphasises spiritual unity and direct knowledge) had wanted to present Krishnamurti to Christians as the second coming of Christ, when he had been young, but he had rejected that designation.
Then, I met Robin’s parents and enjoyed a vegetarian dinner with them at their home in Ojai. They served baked winter squash, a salad of fresh greens and whole grain bread. A year and a half later, I would become a vegetarian myself after participating in the butchering of a pig on our family farm, not the first time I butchered, just the first time I had been completely appalled by the suffering of the dying animal.
Then Robin and I went to the Halloween party in Topanga Canyon. It was a sleepover and I was in my sleeping bag next to Robin after the sharing of consumes (I was a court jester) and treats. He made it clear that he was not interested in helping me with the Dunlap’s prescription.
I was thankful for having the opportunity to go to Ojai and hear Krishnamurti in person and to have a delicious dinner with a vegetarian family.