I was 20 years old and my hair was past my shoulders, inching its way down my back. A glorious crown of ringlets I'd spent 2 frustrating years growing out. It is a cruel trick that nature plays on vanity. These days I just have hair on my shoulders and back. How quickly I digress. And how time flies by!
I'm talking about the day I left West Hollywood and my home state of California to move to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Ask any of my friends from that crazy scene I left behind, and they would tell you they were certain I was moving to the dead center of a cornfield with nothing but a mere transistor radio to keep me company on a frigid Winter's eve. Winter of course was something they had seen in movies, but was difficult to wrap the brain around.
Actually, I boarded a train with exactly 15 medium sized boxes, mostly filled with clothes and keepsakes. Stacey and I had sold off our furnishings when we vacated our apartment, and things like dishes, pots, and pans had been packed up and locked in a dry storage unit for when he rented his next place. What I'm trying to say is that I arrived with nothing...but my have I acquired a few things since then.
That day was September 29th, 1991. I remember very clearly my Mother driving me to the bus station in Santa Maria. I'd spent the week with her, but needed to hurry back to Los Angeles to make my evening train. We stood outside the door of the bus and assured each other that tears weren't necessary. I gave her a big hug and bravely climbed aboard. I stowed my satchel over head and settled into my seat. As the driver began pulling out from the station I looked out the window and down into my Mother's car as we passed her. Her face was buried in her hands, she was sobbing. She knew I wouldn't be coming back, and of course I didn't. I cried all the way to Santa Barbara.
Enter Lenny and Squiggy.
I've been feeling rather nostalgic over the last few weeks. I knew this 20 year milestone was coming up, but it only recently occurred to me that since I turned 40 in May, I've been here half my life now. Holy crap. I also realized that while I may have been born and raised in the Golden State, I grew up in Wisconsin. One does not come into his or herself without the aid of triumph and tragedy, and certainly friends and loved ones.
Over the past 20 years I haven't been home to visit my family nearly enough. The people who have stepped in and created my surrogate family are a colorful and diverse cast of characters. Over the next several months, I'd like for you to meet them through a series of pieces I've started writing, which will arrive here as I finish them.
For those of you who have found this blog more recently, its the outgrowth of a book that I had planned to write about my journey and those characters. It was to be called Killer Bees Make The Most Delicious Honey. Perhaps sharing these stories now will be the impetus to start putting that volume together. Or maybe I'll get consumed by other projects and 3 more years will go by. We'll see.
I marvel sometimes at the journey. So little of it has been as I thought it would be, and yet I know in my heart that everything is exactly what it should have been. I've done it my way, yes my way...making my dreams come true....for me and you. So what's next?