Re-collecting memories • the second dozen

1972       13         Peru, Indiana - Ninth grade - I buy a go kart - zip around cars in the neighborhood - two inches off the ground - 25mph (40kph).  Exhilaration.  I feel like I must have "got one over" on my parents because this feels like a loophole in their 'no motorized two-wheelers rule' and is crazy-dangerous times ten squared.  
                            Peru, Indiana - Ninth grade - winter jamboree with the Boy Scouts - home after ten hours - no feeling in my feet - sitting on the kitchen counter with my grey toes in slowly running ice cold water - crying as the water is gradually warmed.  Miserable.  Unbearable pain.  This is what torture must feel like.
1973       14         Peru, Indiana - Tenth grade - the local newsstand is more than willing to take my dollar - step dad's advice: "best not let mom find them" - no longer am I pent up in the house now that I have an ever-growing gallery of nudes to peruse - boy do I play with myself a lot (until the novelty of buying my own wore off).  I feel—secretly—more mature.  Crossed an invisible milepost on my way to becoming a man.
                            Peru, Indiana - Tenth grade - unconscious for about five seconds - I turn towards a slap shot - field hockey puck coming at my face - nothing - a ring of teammates peer down at me - broken nose bones just get a piece of tape "to remind you and others not to bump it."  Foolish.  Clumsy.  Note to self:  duck faster dumbass.
1974       15         Peru, Indiana - Eleventh grade - youth group returning from a summer weekend trip to an amusement park on the church bus - night - teasing and being teased by the cute junior high school girl in the seat behind me - she gets a pillow and holds it over her - encourages exploration.  Unexpected second base!  Thrilled by the invitation to touch.  Fear of getting caught by a chaperone.  Apprehension that she might later tell someone because she's so young.
                            Peru, Indiana - Eleventh grade - for months on end, dozens of nervous phone calls result in a handful of "dates" - all failures - sweaty hand-holding, uncomfortable silences, pecks goodnight.  Rejected.  Unwanted.  Not good enough.
1975       16         Peru, Indiana - Twelfth grade - awarded the highest rank a Boy Scout can attain - I am an Eagle Scout.  Elated.  Successful.  Accomplished.  
                            Peru, Indiana - Twelfth grade - parents think we are at the Friday night movie - my girlfriend and I decide to "go parking" - I get the family car stuck in the mud - walk to the nearest house to use a phone - parents have to borrow a car to come push us out.  Caught.  Ashamed.  Anger (after she tells friends).
1976       17         West Lafayette, Indiana - Freshman - carbide lamp - college buddies with experience and maps - several all day spelunking expeditions in little-known southern Indiana and northern Kentucky caves.  Amazed by the sights.  Physically challenged.  Slightly scared (spiders near the entrances).      
                            West Lafayette, Indiana - Freshman - clearblue easy says it is time to pay for an abortion - $179 - girlfriend is afraid of her family so I agree to keep it secret.  Foolish.  Not proud.  Not ashamed.  Unnecessarily burdened.
1977       18         West Lafayette, Indiana - Sophomore - Yes concert - Donovan is the warm-up act - everyone, including my college buddies, are getting high - must have a contact high because afterwards I'm famished.  Convoluted thoughts.  Strong emotions.  Blown away.   
                            West Lafayette, Indiana - Sophomore - Papa died unexpectedly - he was 62 - the weather is appropriately wet and dreary - I feel his absence even though we didn't talk regularly - his immediate and extended family's comments after the funeral are vile.  Sorrow.  Quiet.
1978       19         Milwaukee, Wisconsin - move from a state where the drinking age is 21 to a state where the drinking age is 18 - drop out of college - get a job and an apartment next to a bar.  Giddy.  Happy.  Intoxicated.
                            Milwaukee, Wisconsin - consecutive terrible roommates - one left the front door open for days during a snowstorm and refused to pay the utility bill - the other kept open jars of urine in his bedroom and (somehow) killed my hamster.  Victimized.  Vandalized.
1979       20         Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Junior - the machine shop lays me off in June (planned on going back to school in August) - I fake all the job search documents for three months - unemployment compensation funds a cheater vacation.  Lucky.  Pleased with my good fortune. 
                            Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Junior - broke my foot playing racquetball (walking cast) - benign testicular cyst removed (surgery) - impacted wisdom teeth extracted (surgery) - poor health is on a fifteen-year cycle (see 1964).  Gloomy.  Blah.   
1980       21         Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Senior - experimenting in advanced acrylics - I tack a plastic sheet over the classroom window - painted layers depict the essence of what is happening outside at the moment (from different points and times of day) - professor: "can I steal your idea?" - the next semester: dozens of plastic paintings cover the interior of most of the windows in the fine arts building - all his new students creating paintings like my experiment.  Excessive pride (to the gloat level).  
                            Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Senior - a handful of guy "friends" only call when they need to get somewhere (I have a car) - the few girls I want to date just want to "be friends".  Used.  Bummed out.  Tired of rejection.
1981       22         Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Super Senior - week of camping with my fiancee - "discovered" a semi-private lake while exploring upstate.  Blissful.  Peaceful.  Content.    
                            Milwaukee, Wisconsin - Super Senior - wedding preparations, ceremony, reception and honeymoon night all according to plan (hers) - went along with it to make her happy - foolish inner dialogue: "it's just a ceremony," "it's just a day".  Miserable.  Uncomfortable.  Unheard.  Almost immediately:  regret.
1982       23         Clarksville, Tennessee - PFC - graduate from the 101st Infantry Division's Air Assault School (after completing Infantry Basic Training) - rappel from helicopters and down walls - twelve-mile full-gear forced march (with a time limit).  Very strong.  Learning to adapt. 
                            Milwaukee, Wisconsin - college dropout - "birth control failure" and she refuses an abortion - leave college (one semester shy of a degree) - join the Army.  No longer in control.  Petulant.  Grudgingly conforming to the expectations of others.
1983       24         Clarksville, Tennessee - SP4 - 30-day training deployment in Puerto Rico - passenger in a blackhawk helicopter during a serious malfunction - gifted with a twelve-hour pass and a free round-trip flight to Saint Thomas in the US Virgin Islands - a day on an incredible beach.  Ultimate relief (cheated death!)  Maximum relaxation.  Blissful.
                            Clarksville, Tennessee - SP4 - never enough (time, money or distraction) - wife never happy - motherhood not what she imagined - fall out of love - she moves home - collateral damage: become estranged from parents and sisters - all next year I'll be stationed in South Korea.  Anxious.  Disillusioned.  Tired.  Responsible.
                                                                                                                                          the third dozen

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