It was an easy going time, back when I was an underclassman at the university, down in the mountains of North Carolina, way back when a smoke was cheap. It seemed I always had enough money, strength, and breath. The scenery, from anywhere around that school, was absolutely breathtaking. There was lush greenery and mountains everywhere one looked. The girlfriend, who took me hostage my first year, had a lot of knowledge of the natural things beyond campus. She was a wellspring of useful information. Didn’t mind doing all sorts of things.
She even knew how I could get more bang for my buck. One thing we always did was take to the Skyline Drive, and cavort down that way for awhile. Me and that girl did that maneuver regularly my freshman year. I also drove that girl’s father’s car up the steepest slopes of the mountain on the one side of town, not knowing weather her father’s VW Bug could handle the mountain or not.
Why it was I never totaled that car of her father’s, I’ll never know, flying on a rainbow I guess. I did a lot of driving in those mountains when I had the keys to that car. That girl and I did a lot of heavy breathing exercises everywhere we went, but she was only looking to force me to marry her. That girl was on a manhunt, if any girl ever was, and I almost got snared.
That girl gave me an education I almost had to pay for, with a commitment forever clause attached to it. She taught me how to broker food stamps at the girls’ dorms. When I was feeling like myself, I made a lot of virtual money, only spendable on that one university campus. She came up to Grandma’s house in the summer, uninvited, and demanded to marry me. I got really huffy at the age of nineteen and broke up with her then and there. It was her feminine duty to sit there and cry, because “Honey” wouldn’t marry her.
That same girl stalked me on the internet until I let her find me. She said she had five husbands, and buried three of them. Well, I asked her if she’d been visited by the Police Dept yet. I haven’t heard from that woman directly since. Shortly after my last email from this woman, she married husband number six. My good ole girlfriend, now sixty something like me, is busy spending the guy’s money going all sorts of extravagant places. She needs a pair of handcuffs and a jail cell.
I was just a kid then, scarcely out of high school, bounding up and down the steps, back and forth, to Grandma’s basement where my bedroom was. I slept with my brothers down there in that basement, whenever we were home at the same time. Grandma lived in Maryland. Mom and us kids, though recently traumatized in various ways, had finally come South from the cow pastures of SW Pennsylvania, to live with Grandma and Auntie on the quarter acre residential lot out in the country, a couple of miles out of town. Grandma had a really nice house.
My brothers were both older than my sister and I. The two of us, my sister and I, enjoyed an awful lot of convenient transportation with our older brothers behind the wheel, before we were old enough to drive. The two of us have always had similar thoughts, being only fifteen months apart. We had always been close as twins. My sister and I ended up singing duets in our brothers’ cars, not to mention everywhere else. But the singing was an innocent, childish thing we did, beyond every chorus, choir and band we ever participated in. She took up the flute, while I took up the guitar.
There was no limit on how much marching, either for practice or for performance, that I could do with the marching band. Also, there was no limit on how much I could walk or climb the mountains on that campus, or anywhere in the area. The weather was never a factor in getting around. There were plenty of mountains everywhere, and climbing them while singing, was no task for my respiratory health when I was young. I got drunk every now and then, but then, that was normal for a young college man, right? In those days, I was still singing everything I could think of, everywhere I went. With all the bands and ensembles on campus, I was always playing trumpet.
I believed my physical health, as well as my mental health, were essentially indestructible, at either the university, or when I was at Grandma’s, as I glibly ingested mind altering chemicals. For the most part, I believed I could never hurt any of my health in any manner, shape or form. I thought I could choose to do anything with my life and health, with impunity. The consequences, if any, would always be minimal. I would bounce back to my usual state of unshakeable health, if I ever managed to get the least little bit sick, as I had regularly done in childhood. I’d always be the person I knew myself to be at twenty, etc, strong, healthy and happy go lucky.
When it came down to choosing colleges, the high school chorus director, was an exceptionally accomplished teacher and musician. This man was nothing less than a mentor in my eyes. He had a talk with me after school one day. He would tutor me in music theory, if I were interested, before the fall of my freshman year at university, free of charge, as well as his write a letter of recommendation for me, to his own Alma Mater, so I could study music. I was a shoe in. I would go five hundred miles away from home, and miss out on the Vietnam War, all at the same time, as long as I kept my grades up. Perfect, right? Wrong. We couldn’t see what was coming.
Thing about that was that I went down to that school and blew out all the stops.
It was only a slight inconvenience, for a person to ride as a passenger the full five hundred mile trip between my hometown and the university. I always rode in someone else’s car, so I didn’t have to drive. Whomever came up with that idea was a genius. It was probably Auntie’s idea, the practical one. I’m certain I could have driven that whole way with ease. In fact, if I’d ever driven the trip down to North Carolina and back, I’d been way out on a limb. I had an old car, and no AAA. Also, I was very young, without the resources it takes to drive a car a thousand miles. You couldn’t convince me, one way or another. I just took a passenger seat and went the easy way.
Just set me up with transportation and let nature take it’s course.
It seems to me that my feet never touched those stairs in Grandma’s house, going up or down, until I was at least thirty years of age. Well before that time, Grandma was gone, of course, having been almost ninety, along with her senior citizen cat, which had gotten deaf, blind and stupid. My aunt was eventually selling the house, after Grandma was gone. Auntie and Mother were going into lifetime care soon. I heard that lifetime care is expensive. I knew I’d miss going home. I’d gotten attached to the house and surrounding countryside. No longer could I go home to drive the country roads of my youth, or hang out in the basement of that house.
Seemed my feet never touched anywhere I went at the age of twenty one. I could fly without the use of an airplane or a helicopter. It was the God’s honest truth. I kept dreaming I was back at the university, going out with that wonderful girl I’d broken up with over my chemical imbalance my third year on campus, before I came home from campus with disastrous health. I would dream I was with her, the love of my life. I even told that psychiatrist I didn’t like, whom I didn’t want to even look at, much less talk to, that I could fly. Let him worry about it. I always had a very active imagination. Besides, I was dreaming I could fly almost every night, when I was asleep in my bed.
That doctor of mine probably thought I was crazy, for some reason. Being the psychiatrist, the guy who probably analyzed and diagnosed my words as some sort of psychic pathology, I guess. He considered putting me back into a madhouse for being so out of touch with reality. I was rebelling against having a chronic mental illness, having to take a lot of medication, and being in psychotherapy with a jerk like him. I didn’t care what he thought about me. I had more choice words for the guy, but what I said was mild, comparatively. I tried to get the man to lock me up, but he was the great and powerful psychiatrist, like Oz. He would do what he would do.
Around the university, while I was still a student, my buddy Harry, from way up in my hometown, got together with me on campus my sophomore year, we kicking around the place like the couple of burnt out flower children we knew ourselves to be. We were long haired hippie freaks, with our hair getting longer and our joints of reefer getting shorter more quickly than seemed natural. Before my breakdown and my trip ti the laughing academy, we were threatening to burn the ends of our fingers, as we were blazing up in the woods, behind the men’s dorm after dark.
In the days I was nineteen and twenty years of age, and I was absolutely capable of doing a lot of things I can no longer do now at all. For instance, I could sit down on the ground from a standing position in one motion. I could also get up from the ground without anybody’s help at the age of nineteen and twenty. My mental health broke down when I was twenty. I came down with a chronic diagnosis too. Never mind that wild woman who let me drive her father’s car all the time, the one who would demand to marry me when she wasn’t even pregnant. I scarcely mentioned another girl, who stole my heart away forever. But that was at the time I lost my mind on strong chemicals.
I felt good in those days, till I got sicker than I could handle.