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August 16th, 1979
Exhausted now from nearly a week of a summer cold and anxiety:
That moment out on the street when I realized that I had just been struck by that bunch of boys: the immediate humiliation of being ridiculed and doing nothing to defend yourself. My hostility since has risen to a high pitched noise that is hard to ignore. That absurd act has inflamed huge sores long buried in my psyche. The sissy kid bullied by the Walker boys across the street fro me. Being afraid to walk to school. The threats made to me in the schoolyard before the other kids: we’re gonna get you– you wait till after school. And the horrible afternoons of me waiting. And the even greater horror (at least in retrospect) of having my irate mother storm to the principal’s office and insist that something be done to stop the harassment. And always the lurking terror that my father might decide to visit the school. Even the, in the third or fourth grade, I was horribly embarrassed by my family. I knew that my father was not like the fathers on television who wore suits to work and took his kids to the moves on the weekends. I knew there was some wildness to our house that other kids never knew. I knew, even then, that if I could keep my parents hidden, I could compete with real world kids from normal families. Even through high school I repeatedly described my father as a “businessman” on the forms we all filled out at the beginning of school years. And my mother as “housewife.” Quickly I associated myself with the Dramatics Club and the Library Club and in the Journalism Department– all the activities that were almost completely on-campus involvement. I identified with the academic, achievement oriented part of high school society and maintained a snobbish profile of contempt for the fraternity and sorority types: the rich kids who smoke and had cars and partied. Instead, I wrote feature articles about teenage marriage and editorials on marijuana and got the lead in the senior play. And carefully kept details of my home life private. I lived in an okay neighborhood, dressed okay, and even got a car as a present on my sixteenth birthday. No one ever knew that my “businessman” father was in fact a wild truck driver that popped white pills like crazy and hauled bawling cows through nighttime America for a living. Or that my mother the “housewife” was a waitress who worked every night till midnight and would would come home bone tired with calloused feet and rayon pockets filled with quarters. Or that I would go to our house at night and dress in my mother’s clothes and wear her makeup and masturbate in my parents’ bed; pretending to be a whore.
Now, years later, we have a 28 year old man masturbating to visions of gang rape by tough straight men and chain smoking at the knowledge that he lives in a ghetto where his very life is in danger.
I want to go away.
Tomorrow I want Susan to call from California and tell me that she’s taken the job in Oakland and that she wants me to be her Production Manager. Good money and extraordinary benefits (of course they’ll pay to move me out there). Wendy and I decide to go. Robert calls an old friend in San Fransisco and has a fantastic job offer. The three of us leave and take a house in San Fransisco. Suddenly I am okay.
But to think of this– for months and months– Dear God, I’ve spent a decade in this godforsaken bureaucratic city. Ten dismal winters and ten suffocating summers and ten years of not knowing what to do next. When the cue comes to move on honey, don’t miss it. The final wrong is a missed cue.
I am about to change:
in times of metamorphosis it is good to draw near to you the gifts that nourish; in order to carry them with you.