Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My July of '85

By early July after a few weeks back in my home-town of Azle from college, I'd written nearly 50 poems in a deeply unhappy, yet somehow receptive, state.

My mother has always been incredibly blatant about how much she doesn't like me --- she didn't like me at 12, didn't like me at 19 (and still doesn't like me). I'd been living in the swamp of her hate, not knowing any differently, until I went off to college in the Fall of '83. After that, coming home for summers was difficult for me psychologically, since I'd been elsewhere and been interacting with people who actually LIKED me! :)  Being back in her presence meant re-conditioning myself to feeling like shit.

In the Summer of '85, after a few weeks of being again immersed in the Hatred, I finally couldn't stand the overt negativity any more and "ran away from home" (if you can call leaving home at 19 "running away"), back to my college-town Austin with my Ford Pinto loaded up and no place to stay.

I got in town, read the college newspaper ads for apartment rentals. An efficiency just a few blocks from campus was $315 a month --- still pretty high for 1985. The landlady was a canny elderly woman whose dead husband had been a real-estate mogul and had left her various properties. I had my Azle-summer-job K-mart money with me, and so I could pay the first month's rent and deposit right away, but... it would take a couple of days to get the electricity in the apartment on... She saw my panic, saw my fully-loaded Pinto, and gave me a place to stay for free in one of her other properties for a few days until the utilities situation kicked in. (A garage apartment, too expensive for me --- I still remember how pretty the leaves outside the windows looked.) Also, she called my mother! I obviously looked too-frazzled upon my arrival, and my apartment application did include my home phone number back in Azle... Once it was determined that I wasn't dangerous, just a desperate kid, I was allowed to move in.

The Summer of '85 in this furnished efficiency with avocado-green shag carpet and burnt orange couch and chair... Right after I arrived, I went to the Government Department on campus, where I'd been a work-study student the previous school year. I asked if they needed anyone full-time during the summer -- they did! Every weekday, 8 to 5, I went to their office, then came home and drank wine until I was drunk until precisely 10 o'clock. I was young and still-disciplined, and made myself stop at precisely 10pm so I'd be able to get up with the 6:30am alarm.

Between 5 and 10pm for the next 6 weeks until the Fall Semester at UT started, I didn't see another person aside from work people. All I did was come home and get drunk and listen to Simon and Garfunkel (on album), and write poems to Ginny, like this one:

Oh! to have you
on my doorstep
in the cloud
and through my hair

What fun
with you here!
the roaches for laughing
orange and green
the height of art décor

Come! and make me Picasso
these walls I tame
and will paint for no one else.

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