Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Playing with Fire
I could add two cents here about reciprocity theory, but I know how you feel when I lapse into academic discourse. So instead I will marvel that of all the people with good stories collected up in their heads, insurance agents top the list.
Frankly, I'm surprised more of them do not become novelists. I am a writer, but I don't have any stories. What I need is an insurance agent!
Fires, floods and accidents--accidents as a result of horrendous negligence or as the result of an ordinary thoughtless moment like the ones you and I have every day. Never mind acts of God.
But it's all covered under renter's insurance: falling asleep with candles burning, adolescents hiding burning incense under the bed, using paper bags to carry out the ashes from your woodstove, tossing a bunch of solvent-soaked rags into the corner of your garage.
When I got home, I gave my son a bunch of warnings, and he asked, "Mom, don't you trust me? It's like you trust me less now that I'm older." I said, "Part of growing up is to look into the future and see possible outcomes so you can take precautions."
Not that I was very good at that myself until the awesome, overwhelming responsibility of motherhood entered my life. In fact, I lived the riskiest of young adulthoods: I was a gypsy vagabond.
On the subject of stories and outcomes, I was looking at a group on Facebook called "Grateful Dead Tour: 1980s." I was wondering whatever happened to some people I knew from my vagabond days.
Of course, people went by nicknames in those days, and we are all middle-aged now, so looking through the list of 1,500 people and their little thumbnail photos didn't help much.
There was a spot for people to post photos from back in the day, but unfortunately, a good 30 percent of the pics were of tie-dyes, ticket stubs. concert posters and acid hits. Who the hell cares about such things?
I want to see people, movement, dancing, colors, clothes, children, puppies, rosy cheeks, tents and vans.
There was also a discussion board called "Where are they now?" I read it, but it didn't bring back any good memories, quite the opposite: it reminded me how dangerous our lifestyle was.
There were so many drugs so, of course, people became junkies, sold out their friends, lost everything, died. Numerous, numerous people are dead since then, people younger than I am.
In those days, some people also sold drugs, so there is considerable lingering paranoia in those discussion threads. I learned that one of my former boyfriends just got out of prison after serving 17 years. Seventeen years --his entire blossoming prime -- behind bars!
This was a very sweet, kind guy. But last time I saw him was in summer of 1988, when he had already begun "jonesing"-- had already begun the descent into drug addiction.
As always, the difficulty lies in the fact that "drugs" is such a catch-all term. There is quite a continuum of seriousness, addictiveness, deadliness, with marijuana & magic mushrooms one one end and heroin & crack cocaine on the other. Sadly, many people don't have the critical thinking skills to do some drugs, avoid others. I thank my lucky stars I was cautious even then.
My kids like to ask me why I changed, why I am no longer a hippy, no longer "sav" (savage) as they call it. Whatever I do, wherever I go, I will always be different, a misfit. A dilettante perhaps, but I know when something is dangerous and destructive, and it's time to move on. So I move on, a lot.