From Memory’s Caboose

Sitting here listening to music from 1977 thinking about 1977, my 1977, not 1977 in general. It was a year. I turned 25 in January. The dangerous-yet-not-evil X was visiting his family in Colorado Springs. He wasn’t living with me. The marriage was breaking up (for good reason) and at that time he was a grad student in Laramie at the U of Wy. So, my friends (they weren’t really friends) were there and we were sitting around on the obligatory residual avocado green carpet in my one bedroom apartment a block from the University of Denver drinking champagne and listening to music.

What else do grad students do?

One of my guests was a beautiful, brilliant man with a developing interest in me in spite of the complexities in his nature (he was gay).

The party decided to take the champagne and go out in cars (not smart but…) and we headed to a building where a few years earlier I’d gone with. my mom and grandma to hear Lena Horne and another time to hear the Mills Brothers. It wasn’t that club anymore. Someone else drove my car. I was in the back seat with the wine. At some point I tossed a glass out the window. We got to the — I don’t know what to call it — it was a disco with a back room right out of Goodfellas. As Peter took me through the place, showing things to me, though I was bleary-eyed drunk, he said, “What’s this, Martha?”

“They’re gambling. It’s a casino.”

“What I like about you is you’re so real.” Peter said that a lot but I never knew what he meant. Everything about that place was illegal. Open after hours. Gay dancing. Gambling.

We sat around for a while on some opulent sofas then left. Dawn was breaking as I pulled my VW into the parking space at my apartment building. I came in, exhausted, sober and mildly confused. I knew I was heading into a trajectory like that which sent the moon astronauts on their way back to Earth, but this trajectory wouldn’t bring me home.

Alone in my apartment I put on an Emmylou Harris album and headed for the bathtub. I had to teach in an hour.

33 thoughts on “From Memory’s Caboose

  1. 1977 was the year our daughter was born. I actually had to get a day job that paid more than music did. No insurance, of course.

    • I know. Back in grad school toilet paper served as dinner napkins. $450/month, $99/mo rent. People all around me were having kids and getting real jobs.

  2. Emmylou Harris – brings back memories. Saw a TV interview from a while ago with her, Linda Rondstadt, and Dolly Parton. What a trio!

    When I move to California I met a girl who was the daughter of her manager.

  3. Keep going….”on a trajectory that didn’t lead home”…I love this. The music, the times, your “realness”. I love Emmylou. I’ve been overwhelmed by technology and took a day break. Working in yard today and Finn and I sitting in spring on the deck and this was my first read. Thank you. ❤️

      • True!! I don’t know if I’m growing grass or just more rocks. But I’ll keep on trying. I bought a battery-operated lawn mower yesterday. You’d think bubbles would come out if it by looking at it. Not too shabby. And light~which is what I have to have. Tell your beans hello. And of course, Teddy and Bear. Happy Easter from Finley and I. 🤗🐶💚

        • Happy Easter, Karla and Finn! Bear, Teddy and I are going to services tomorrow. ❤ Considering who we met on Palm Sunday, no telling who will show up tomorrow. Yesterday we met Judas.

          • Finn and I are too! Then we’ll head to my Mom’s and I’m to bring a LOT of deviled eggs ~this is the largest gathering we’ve had in a year. You made me giggle{Judas} . I met a Jesus yesterday. He’s name used Fred. He’s 85 and working at Home Depot. He told me all about his girlfriend and how God loves me and him. I asked what his girlfriend’s name is….and he couldn’t remember. We just strayed giggling. Later as I was looking at tomato plants he approached me and said, “Her name is Millie!” Aww “That was my Grandma’s middle name!” ❤️

  4. Ah. 1977 and my Freshman year of college. Of course I was in Indiana and at a rather conservative college. I declined the offer to go to the “party” college… It makes me a little wistful to think that what I thought of as turbulent times was actually smooth water, comparatively speaking.

      • Conservative~? I got you both beat, I went to an evangelical school and yes it is true, preacher’s kids do make the best dates~! But I did visit women colleges because some of those girls get so lonely that they may even go to men’s gay bars for a date~!
        I feel a poem coming on~!

    • OK, if we’re talking colleges, my first ill-fated attempt at college was at a Catholic women’s college. (It had actually turned coed a few years earlier, one of the actions for which the nuns who ran it were defrocked.) When I was threatened with arrest for jaywalking and had to show ID, I used my student ID instead of my out of state driver’s license. The officer accused me of forging it since I was a man and it was a women’s college. I narrowly escaped jail, which would have been bad since I was on the way to a movie theatre to watch an assigned film. I got my degree 27 years later.

      • “Oh yeah? Well I got so drunk one weekend (the first time I had hard liquor and it was a fucking brick wall) I was still drunk on Monday. One of my teachers said I needed ‘Hair of the dog’ so we took off walking two miles in the heat to the closest bar by which time I’d fully sobered up. Try telling kids today that an they won’t believe you.” 😉

  5. But, but then what happened~?? If you are are going to tell us a “caboose story”, at least get to the end of the train~!!! So now you can start with that bath tub; or will it be in your next book~?……. and while reading the first part I thought of at least three similar stories I could tell you about, complete with an ending (almost)~! What we need is a big fire, and a bottle of wine.

    PS: I did not “study” under Ansel Adams, in fact I found him a bit of a jerk, as so many famous people get when they become too popular~! But I did learn a lot from the short time I was there.

      • Thanks for “Inspired by Plagues”; it tells a lot. I must agree with the comment of “curioussteph”. A great relationship or as you may call it “Lov” may turn into “hate” through marriage, which which does not need another negative element, as you allude to from your breakup of marriage. You and Peter did the right thing. I guess I too could write a book about this, but would never even try, due to not knowing enough about the subject~! But after my having a lucky life of Love, I am content to having lady friends who, like your Peter, make my life as full and as happy as I could expect, just being my friends. Most of them I may never even meet in person but I learn to know through this blog.
        PS: I wonder “who” or “what” decides when “comments are closed”~!

        • I think it was me who set up when comments were closed when I set up this blog. It’s supposed to keep people and or bots or human bots from spamming me retroactively, I guess.

          We learn a lot about our relationships as we grow up (meaning older) and come to understand how our childhoods and family life indirectly influence our choices. One of the men in my life (a guy I met when I was 19 and last saw in 2004) accused me of playing games. I didn’t think I was, but later, understanding the dynamic in my family and my mom’s method of loving her kids, I saw games. For me, that was normal, that was love. Now I think the opportunity to love someone as a friend, lover, dog, mountain, painting, journey, natural scene, Sandhill Cranes whatever stirs our hearts deeply is a great privilege and a great thing.

          • I fully agree and like your approach. I feel that you may be an only child, I was one of six, and none of us had the same relationship with the others, while at the same time fine. Some great and some just good siblings. I may “Love”my dog, but only “lov” one of the two cats, however I feel sorry for the other one as she was badly abused before I adopted her, and does not trust anyone or anything except me, so I show her equal love.

            It is rare that you know the full story. My best lady friend and the one I consider my bellwether has been married three times. Now I must at least wonder why~? Bad choices, or is there a little of both not clicking. So I would not consider a marriage to her, because I value her too much as “my best friend” and would not want to loose her.

            When she was feeling low due to problems with her past life, this is the poem I wrote to her:

            “Love does not consist in gazing at each other,
            but in looking outward together
            in the same direction.”
            Antoine de Saint-Exupery

            MY BELLWETHER

            A quiet walk in the woods
            then sitting by that cool lake
            talking about things understood;
            secrets we can give and take.

            Understanding pain that we share
            telling of things long gone past
            even admitting truth we dare
            to remove the hurt at last.

            One of the things I love in you
            short strides that path so narrow
            suggesting what we need to do
            how to face our sorrow.

            My life now is so very full
            from the things you do for me
            you turn my day to light from dull
            lighting the way for me to see.

            As we walk you hold my hand
            along this happy path together
            talking of everything we plan
            for you are my bellwether.

            • I was the oldest of two.

              That is a very lovely poem, and clearly a lovely friendship. ❤

              Apparently I am extremely independent (I've been told) and that's OK with me. My family had concrete problems (as many families do). My dad had MS, I learned the truth about my mom from Eminem (and her doctor). My brother was an incorrigible drunk and a very talented artist. I had the role in the family of keeping everything together. How does an alcoholic mom keep the responsible kid in tow? Turns out, my mom was pretty classic and a secret drunk so I didn't even KNOW until a few weeks before she died. It's a tired and sordid story, and all too common. So my romantic choices? As my therapist explained, we choose in love what feels normal and comfortable for us. I chose abuse.

              Anyway, all old stories and not very interesting or novel. So, love? I don't even know if I ever met "the one" or if such a thing exists! I've known some amazing men and that's very cool whether or not I understood what was going on or supposed to happen. 😀

              • Oh wow, if you have read my post’s you must know that I did have “true love”, but I had gotten a lot of devilment out of my system and we just clicked, I was 30 at the time and she was only 21 just getting out of school, and very smart. Sort of a “yin and Yang”, fitting together like a jigsaw puzzle. Where she was soft I was hard but I lived to please her as she did for me where I was weak in knowledge, she was strong, she was too loving of everybody but I was her protector, etc…. If I had a hard day at the office my secretary would call her and she would meet me at the door with a drink and loving consideration. Seldom a bad experience. We lost one child and two sons grew to adults. So yes, love is possible, but must be a common binding thing. The down side of it is when it suddenly stops through death~! Then half is gone and you are lost~!

                That heading statement by Antoine de Saint-Exupery makes a lot of sense. Yet he too had a difficult life as well.

                My mother was a “loving church going evangelical” who never seemed to realize how much bigotry was in her religion. You saw this when they supported such as Trump~! She sent me to a Nazarene college to break up the high school “love” I had for a Catholic girl~! In a way this is when I learned that I had been raised in something that passed for “christian love”.. Blacks were allowed in their church but must only sit in the last pew, etc. If you were not a member of their church you were doomed to a fire in hell~! The effect this had on me was to make me a better person in the opposite direction.

                • In my opinion, 30 and 21 is the ideal combination of male and female. I love happy love stories. There are some around me and I think they’re wonderful. And yes; losing the great love has got to be the hardest thing next to losing a child and you’ve survived both. Wow.

                  I’ve read some of your posts, but nothing regularly. I’ve been illustrating a little book and various other projects which have kept me from being the best blog reader in the world.

                  Moms. It’s really a crapshoot. In spite of being who and what she was, my mom gave me a lot of the qualities that have made my life happy. I guess, for me, the bottom line is that bad things happen, unbelievably bad things, but on any given day, things can be incredible, amazing, beyond our imagination and that’s where we live.

  6. avcoado green carpet, drinking champagne…you took me there…I could have been sitting on that rug with you!

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