Either my 20s blew or I blew my 20s. I cannot seem to recall; but I have a feeling it is the latter. It was an accumulation of bad decisions, bad direction and bad habits. It pangs me in those nostalgic moments to realize how I squandered the young, good looking, skinny years of freedom with bad relationships, drugs, alcohol and loneliness. I should have been in college when I was at the Grateful Dead concerts. I should have been creating a healthy family instead of fixating on destructive relationships. I should have been working out instead of smoking, drinking and (cough) other things. But I didn’t. So when I flash back to a hidden memory my heart breaks a little and I grieve for that which never existed.
At 18, I couldn’t move out of the house soon enough. My step dad was super strict and I had little freedom or privacy and I was out as soon as possible. Because of this, I was truly never prepared to be on my own and had to subsequently move back in several times – each time worse than the last. When I was about 18, I moved into an apartment with my best friend Paige and her cousin, Wendy. I was a horrible roommate. I was a fuckin’ kid with no work ethic and a new found fondness of weed. Up until age 18…I was pretty innocent. Never went to parties, never drank (maybe twice my entire teenage career), no drugs whatsoever and I was a virgin until almost 19. But once I tried pot…I knew it was the one thing in this world which could make me feel better. For once I wasn’t concerned with – or I should say obsessed with – what other people thought. I started to gain some self awareness instead of focusing on others. I stopped being so freakin’ depressed. I could laugh and laugh. That year was speckled with many good times. I just didn’t know when to say when.
Anyway, yea, roommate fucktard is what I was. I never paid my bills on time. I never wanted to work. I mean my friends and boyfriend were in college during the day (sometimes lol) and partied at night. And although I lived several blocks from UW Milwaukee…lived minutes away from campus aka party central…I did not attend. First biggest mistake was not making sure that I was able to go to college. My grades were very average in high school – it simply bored the piss out of me. My ACTs were very good, but because I wasn’t in the top half of my class…getting into a “real” college would have taken more than just filling out an application. Other steps needed to be taken, all the money would have to come from loans and I was just not responsible enough to grab the reins of my life. My parents never really pushed for college. Lord knows they couldn’t afford it. And I just really think they never expected that I could accomplish something like that. I was never once persuaded to attain this collegiate goal. Neither of them went to a four year school either. When I think about how much I missed out on by not living that college experience…it really makes me quite sad.
Living with my best friend ruined our friendship. We were friends after and still are today (though she is across the country) but it was never the same. I always knew that much respect was lost and I cannot say I blame her. At that time I was also starting a relationship with someone whom was a friend, Eric. He was my “first” and we roller coastered through the next 3 years with many injuries to show for it. We were both pot heads with big dreams and no ambition. We were so “in love” but fought 90% of the time. We would break up every so often just to find us back together like a quit that wouldn’t stick. I often wonder if it was really love or just a mutual addiction to the fine mess we created. I mean, sure I loved the guy…but were we together because we were ‘in love’ or because of our dysfunction?
After my one year in Milwaukee and his two, we moved back to Racine. We lived in this seedy apartment for a while. We worked various jobs before we’d get sick of them and quit. I quit one job because I wanted to go to a Grateful Dead show in Chicago. I mean, my priorities – even for a 19 year old – were absolutely fucked. Soon after was my first move back to the parents. Ugh. And the rules were INSANE. As soon as they knew I was smoking pot…they pretty much did anything they could to get me to break away from Eric. It was a tremendous clusterfuck and one big giant brawl which eventually ended with my step father literally pushing me out of the door with no place to go. Eric and I were already on the verge of breaking up, but because of my sudden homelessness at age 20…I had nowhere to go but to be with him. It was the beginning of thee lowest point in my life.
After a few months of staying with virtual strangers – one who strangled me and left bruises around my neck – sleeping in the car and staying in nasty motels…My friend’s mom invited me to stay with them. I was finally in a home. A comfortable home which though was not Beaver-like in every way…it was much more a home than I had ever really known. Mom, dad and 2 daughters. They were free to be themselves, but still had basic rules and mutual respect. The cupboards were filled – no PACKED – with food. This family lovingly opened their home to me. And I never once took that for granted.
My friend, Erin, stubbornly did not let me contact Eric even though she was friends with him too. She – and everyone who knew us – knew we were destroying each other. She would not let me near the phone and always seemed to know if I had sneaked away to find another way of calling him. It was like she was the bouncer in my crack-addict-like thought process. She played an instrumental role in helping me get over the addiction I had to this guy. And her mother played a huge role in getting me back on my feet…at least well footed enough to regain some dignity. Not to say that the trouble ended there…but it was never that bad again. I will never be able to thank them enough. Erin’s mom died several years ago. I hope she knew how much her kindness meant to me. I did write to her in her later stages of cancer…I hope it was not too late.
Eric and I broke up for good, I got a new job and moved back to my parents by the time I was 21.
To be continued…(upcoming…The Jiro Years, Dad’s Death, Panic and Jack Daniels)…