Vanished in the Smoke

76  bar falls 29.70  0mph SSE dew-point 67  sunrise 5:55 sunset 8:44  Summer

Waning Crescent of the Thunder Moon

Echoes from the past.  Over time certain folks reconnect out of the blue.  Jerry Stearns is one.  We were part of the movement at Ball State.  Hard to believe, but we had a radical wing at this conservative midwestern teacher’s university.  We did some drugs, raised some hell.  He’s kept the faith working with Central American guerillas and medical groups like medicine sin fronteras.  He’s still at it doing hospice work now and using the money to help develop clinics with the Zapatistas and sub-commandante Marcos.  He brings word of folks I’d forgotten about long ago.

Those days.  They were so different than now.  So formative for a generation, at least a chunk of the generation.  As I’ve written elsewhere, we engaged in struggle in our own lives, with our friends and lovers, in our own communities.  The personal was political and the political personal.  It was, really, politics drugs sex and rock and roll.  We went on road trips, driving through Indiana small towns flashing the peace sign and shaking our long hair. (Yes, I realize how ridiculous this sounds now.) We smoked dope, dropped acid and listened to acid rock.  We demonstrated, wrote, loved and then disbursed.  Jerry stayed in touch with more folks as near as I can tell, but I never looked back.  After Dad and I split, I left home for Wisconsin, then Minnesota.

Intense. Those days dripped intensity.  Everything, every tiny thing mattered.  It was, for this cowboy, too much.  The more intense it got, the more I drank.  I gave up acid and marijuana early on, but I hung on to beer and whisky.  The sexual revolution kept going and going and going up until my second marriage, then it stopped until my divorce.  At which point it picked up again.  Then stopped again when I married Kate.  And happily so.

Back then I was an introvert trying to function as an extrovert.  It took a lot of chemicals and a rich dose of denial to stay at it.  When I finally woke up, I was on my second marriage, working for the Prebyterian church and wondering just what the hell I had done with my life.  Treatment brought me into contact with a new reality, my true self.  It was, though, as it often is, ten years before my maturation caught up with me after I stopped drinking.  18 off and on years of Jungian analysis.

All the drugs and sex, the politics of rage, make the true effects of those years difficult to sort out.  They were painful in so many ways, yet pain and growth are old partners.  The overall affective tone of those years has a negative valence emotionally, but a positive one in terms of commitment, struggle, victories.  So much of it vanished in smoke and the slosh of beer. I mean my memories are unreliable, in some cases extinguished, or at least very hidden.

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