This is my first post in mental health. I created this offshoot site to have a little privacy with my thoughts though I am not that familiar with WordPress to know exactly how private my posts may be. My hope would be that anyone happening upon these words find some value for themselves, a loved one, someone they care deeply about, or even for themselves – we are told of course before we may love anyone else we always must find ourselves first. My story begins decades ago when I was around 10 years old.
I don’t really all the pieces of my story except to say I was a normal kid growing up in a midwestern town with a set of neighborhood buddies I hung with, and as we progressed our years in elementary school those numbers would grow. I remember finding new friends that moved into my neighborhood, and somehow they always had an impact on life as it once were and now would become.
I don’t remember names well, actually the ones I’d rather not remember come to mind far too easily. I suppose it is the romantic part of my childhood that I seem readily able to block out rather than recall that gives me the loneliest memory of those times. I would speak of (jen) being my first love when just a young catholic altar boy, filled with guild and shame in even noticing the pretty ruffles on the shoulders of her blouse one summer afternoon. She and I became close friends the summer of my 1st grade. In 2nd grade she moved away, and it only being across town, when you are 7 years old, she may as well have moved across the country never to be seen again.
Losing my friendship with (jen) might have been my first experience with true abandonment. We were dear friends, we laughed with each other, could walk forever through neighborhood yards and woods and alleyways and new gravel roads together. We could even sneak across the two lane road on our bicycles and go to the grocery store, buy candies, and smile as we raced back home in an all day summer sun. We didn’t what romance really meant at that young age, but I do think we understood love.
When (jen) left I felt out of sorts. I wandered from friend to friend. Oh I have very close friends from childhood, but a good friend of the opposite sex had moved away, and I was left to only wonder why. It would be in the coming years that I would grow to know attraction, and wonder about the sweet mystique of a young woman drawn from my imagination while watching my family engage in the courtship of dating, marriage, socializing, entertaining and lies. I was never told why (jen) and her family moved away, but I also wasn’t told that my dad and hers never got along. It is funny some of the things we don’t really think about when all we are doing is trying to figure out who to go outside and play with on a beautiful summer day.
The night he died the following morning, we had won our city basketball tournament. We were so pumped. Jimmy had poured in 45 of our 57 points from the top of the key. Everybody in the city called him ‘gunner’ but it was a well earned label. I sat on the bench and reveled in our victory. It didn’t matter I didn’t play, I was watching my best friends take us to the hoop. Nothing could ruin such a fabulous morning. I remember getting a ride home from Jeff’s mom and a strange idea went through my mind. I wondered about that phone call that we had gotten late in the night, on a Friday night, before my basketball tournament the next morning. When a phone rang after 11 PM in 1972, there was some odd purpose, that an 11 year old kid wasn’t supposed to really care about. I don’t even remember getting a ride to the basketball game, there wasn’t a lot of conversation in the home that morning.
(to be continued)