There is only one story I can write when I hear Joplin. It’s about the summer I started reading Kerouac and Dostoevsky and cheating on my boyfriend and smoking pot. Condemn me now if you want to, it ain’t no gateway drug or I’d be living a different life right now. Instead I found the kind of love I didn’t need to stone myself for and I started being honest. But that was later.
In 1993 I was off into the world at 18 without anything specific to my name. This is where I tell you I don’t believe in guidance counselors, don’t believe most public school education sets us up for any good damn thing and that there were only English teachers who ever gave me a nod. And only a few of them were any good.
I talked about anger. I told you about not having any bearings on myself. I had a whole rolly-polly life, like when you get a flat tire and the car wants to go one way and you want it to go another. That’s how it was. I spent a lot of time trying to steer my racky-tacky car and calling out for help. Turns out a lot people have uses for racky-tacky cars like mine. Turns out they like to see how far out of line they can take it.
So back in ’93 I was turned loose. I re-met a guy I’d known for a few years. He adored me like weren’t nobody ever going to adore a girl like me. Everything he did he meant well. And we roared.
We weren’t responsible, couldn’t be. We wanted to run wild with the wind, take to the mountains and the seas. We wanted one thing–a big, fat, heaping bowl of living.
And we wanted to laugh.
There’s no real future in this kind ramshackle wanting and it didn’t last forever. I was an ugly sober, man. There was no me in me back then. I was all pulse and no bone. I burned on fiery blue and indigo. I ranted and raged inside myself hating it, hating me, hating past and present and now, this now that I didn’t even know could exist. This now where my children sleep in soft beds and warmth and safety. This now with a husband who trusts and knows where my ugly hides. This now where I write and am finally, finally that truly free.