Saturday, May 13, 2017

Summer 1970: A Time of Transition

Me, June 1970, wearing a woven bark bead necklace from Finland
and a culotte dress in a very 1970s print.
Graduation was exciting. I wrote I had "reached success" because I had made so many friends and was "surrounded by love and friendship." The whirl of parties and people kept me high. I saw old friends and made new ones who I would never see again. There were guitars and singing, TPing trips, dancing, and swimming.

Everywhere I went I saw Kimball kids. Cars honked and hands waved. I had come to Royal Oak knowing no one. Now it was home.

I wrote free association in my diary, writing about feeling in limbo:

"I am held in mid-air,
not a part of  Kimball, the past
my loves and friends,
not a part of tomorrow and college.

I am ended.
I am waiting.
I will begin again,
seven weeks from now.

I must leave behind
my childhood."

And another time I wrote,

"I am leaving
torn again, part left behind
     part to travel onward—
I am pierced
       broken
        between time."

The summer of 1970 brought my first job, the loss of my exchange student sister, and a boy.

This magazine ad was my inspiration
I had it on my bedroom wall.
When I graduated from high school my mom was 38 years old. Dad was 39. My brother was 10. And I was still 17. We all had summer birthdays.
My family around Christmas 1969
On July 23 I helped Elina pack her suitcase. Uta and Elina's best friend Paula came to our house for dinner and then we went out for ice cream. The next day we drove Elina to Saginaw Valley College where all the Michigan exchange students were gathered before flying home. I wrote,
Mom teaching Paula to jitterbug
"July 24, 1970, Friday
We got up early— Went to Saginaw Valley College.  All night I had recalled waiting for Elina to arrive, her late plane; and now we walked in the fine rain under gray, crying skies, to take her on her way home.
The dorm room was nice—small but pleasant. Her roommate was a Swedish girl, peculiar, a hopeful writer, nice. We talked. They’ll be busy & have fun.
She [Elina] saw Hannah [another Finnish girl] and her girlfriend from Rovaniemi. The other girl turned, crying, her family moving off in a white car.
Mom said goodbye to Elina, then I. Elina was tearless, smiling, cheerful. We got in the car and drove off, waving.
Mom had her tears before we left, crying on Elina’s shoulder.
Dad later cried, on his bed.
Tom wouldn’t kiss her goodbye.
I walked into what had been Elina's room, opened the windows. I wondered what to do with the remnants, and then I cried."
Elina, Lancer 1970 photo
I needed to find a job. I first was hired for a job in telephone sales making $1.60 an hour but was looking for something better. I applied for jobs at the Main Theater and other places, but really wanted the job at Barney's, the Save-On drug store at Crooks and 13 Mile Road. I had often stopped there on my way home from school to buy a notebook, magazine, or paperback book.

I got the Barney's job as a cashier at the front register. Dad taught me how to count change back to the customer. One day a man pulled the old trick of trying to confuse the cashier. He gave me a twenty dollar bill and I gave him change. He then decided he wanted me to return the twenty and he'd return the change and asked me to give him different denominations back. I don't know if he was successful but I recall being confused.

On July 29 I wrote,

"I am officially 18, though, because of saying it’s my age for months—I feel like I’ve been 18 all year.
Uta’s leaving after tomorrow.  Alta’s coming over tonight.
I am sad—read many sad things today: Thomas Mann's Little Herr Friedemann, The Big Eye--sci-fi short stories, Mausappant. etc.
I am 18 & Mom says I’m 'on my own'. I miss Kimball. I’m anxious for Adrian."

My old beau contacted us to say he had married his girlfriend, the girl we had broken up over, several weeks previous.

On August 3 I wrote that Uta's American Mom said that Uta 'cried terribly' upon parting.

The upside of working at Barney's was seeing so many Kimball kids. But I felt I was living in a 'shadow land', with high school in my past and college in the future.

On August 15 I bought a new coat at Fields in Royal Oak. I was gathering what I needed for college.

There was a partial eclipse of the moon on August 16 and we saw the Northern Lights. Dad always knew about these things and made sure we saw them.

On August 18 I talked with my Adrian roommate on the phone. I was disappointed because she was interested only in coordinating the dorm room with matching bed spreads. I wanted to know if we had mutual interests and might be friends. The college 'matched' roommates, and in a superficial way we were 'compatible.' We were both active in school. I had been in journalism and choir and had an exchange student. She was class secretary and on Homecoming court. Quite different backgrounds!

On August 26 My friend Alta came to my house with her childhood friend, who was visiting the area with his friend Jim. I wrote that I had on bell bottom jeans, a flag t-shirt, bare feet, with my hair held back in a clip.

It appeared Alta had told Jim about me. We talked about authors and books. I was surprised when Jim started quoting from Romeo and Juliet, holding my hand, and then he kissed me. Things were going awfully fast for a first meeting. I was a little starry eyed but also suspicious.

He returned a few days later and had his brother take a photo of us together. He made it clear he wanted to have a long distance relationship. We had fun together and unlike any boy before, we did share a love of poetry, writing, and the arts. But I wondered if he was 'snowing' me. And why would someone settle for a long distance relationship?

So I went off to college with a 'boyfriend,' someone I barely knew, who had a girl in his hometown but was talking about plans for 'our future.' I was doubtful about the whole relationship. I warned that I was not going to be tied down, that in college I hoped to met many new people and expected he would date, too.

I kept in mind a line from a favorite poem by Robert Hillyer: “Illusion shatters, the idea is much more ruthless than the real." I did not want to jump into a relationship that was not based on really knowing each other. I'd been down that road before.

College represented a journey of growth and further knowledge of the world.

In my diary I quoted Ecclesiastes,

I have acquired great wisdom, surpassing all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has had great experience of wisdom and knowledge, and I applied my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this is also but a striving after wind.  For in much wisdom is much vexation, and he who increases wisdom, increases sorrow. (Ecclesiastes, 16-18).

Then I added, "It may be true, but such is my vanity that I want to obtain much knowledge and be wise, and discover much truth, and hence I’m off to college."

I had written on my college application that I wanted to understand the Big Picture, how history and the present, the physical world and the created world, all linked together. I had great curiosity. I applied as a teaching major, too unsure to say "writer." I had thought about teaching since junior high school when I was Mrs. Hayden's class. I had 'taught' my little brother, taught friends guitar chords and piano, and personally loved school. I liked understanding something and translating what I had learned to share with others.

In my diary I wrote, "I want to go to college for the potential friendships that may come in the small college atmosphere. I plan to meet and know many people, branding some with the name of 'friend'. I want to finish my learning and want nothing to hinder it. I have many football games and concerts to attend, and many friendships to establish and keep fueled, and much to learn and to become."
I bought this wristwatch. 
I had a Hot Pot, the plastic case 'Mustang' Hi-Fi my folks bought me at K-Mart for Christmas in 1967, a Love Story poster from Jim, my Kimball class ring and the gold cross from Confirmation, my Charlie the Tuna wristwatch, and my books including Pascal's Pensees, poetry books by Stephen Crane and Robert Hillyer, my leather bound Confirmation presentation Bible, and You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe. I had my high school skirts and sweaters, the tiger stripe fur hat from Dorothy and Kathy, a poncho with Astrology signs, and bell bottom jeans.

Best of all I had confidence and hope.

Here I am out in the woods with Dad