Sunday, November 22, 2009


It was 1973 and all things seemed possible. I bought a Subaru that year, but first I have to tell you how I came to buy it.

It was maybe April, 1973. I was weeks from graduation from nursing school. I decided one evening to visit a friend and I brought along a new album to share and listen to. It was Fragile by Yes. A new horizon was barely visible and Yes music was perfect. This friend was someone I had met through my ex. He worked at the only computer business in Birmingham at the time, so I was impressed with his knowledge and cutting edge-iness. When he answered the door and I showed him the album, he pulled out the same album from his collection- Yes met Yes. It was an Event.

It turns out the this person I will call D was a frickin genious. The real thing. I could relate to him in some ways, but mostly I felt that I was learning at an accelerated rate. Remember the movie with John Travolta where he starts learning languages, learning everything, faster and faster. It was like that. The atmosphere was rarified with energy and real knowledge- not just philosophy and conjecture but actual stuff- mathematics, physics, biological sciences, architecture, music, acoustics, art, history, politics. He was talking about getting a personal computer. People did not have personal computers in 1973.

We ended up setting up house in Crestline Village. His parents owned the house. I finished nursing school and started work at the VA. For some reason he quit working and just stayed home. I made enough money to live on and then some, and it was fun to have someone take an interest in me. I was pretty much on my own in the world, not much in the way of family, so I enjoyed being taken in. I failed to notice that I was the only one working. I worked hard, and then had lots of time off to go on short trips, go to the beach, whatever. D held court all the time at the house in Crestline. We had all sorts of people dropping by to take part in the scene there and it was quite a scene. I was educated, but my folks were like the best of the hillbillies. D's family was well off, and well connected. I guess they tried to accept me- I was never treated unfairly by them at all. Everything was so loose back then, it was hard to know what the "norm" was.

We traded in D's van and I sold my Opal. I bought the Subaru. The subaru had an "airplane engine"- the newest thing. And it was lime green. Too bad we burned up the engine.

One of the most astonishing things I remember about that time was a trip to see the Grateful Dead in Indianapolis. We went with a strange group of unlikely people in a van. We all took some kind of acid and D drove without any problem. It did not seem to affect him at all. We were incapacitated for hours, some people worse than others- I mean really nonfunctional- and he just drove on, talked with me, in the most nonplussed fashion. It was like riding the jet stream. I knew then something was very different about D. It was a great trip, and the show in Indianapolis was fantastic in every way.

Initially then, everything was fun and very stimulating. I met some wonderful people who are still good friends today.

I will never forget our house. On the wall behind the sofa was a huge color graphic painted on the wall by one of D's friends who was an artist. We had orange plasic parson's tables with small orange plastic lights. At the time, it was ultra hip in a kind of futuristic way- not the hippy stuff I was used to. The house was in a small village so I could walk to the grocery store or library. It was a nice change from Southside, although most everyone who came over was living on Southside. We were just sightly removed and safe there, ie I did not feel like the police might bust in at any moment!

I made elaborate macrame plant holders and we bought huge lovely plants for the porch. It was the nicest place I had lived in thus far. We talked about everything, especially politics. I started reading the New York Review of Books.

We started a company to do software. We went to Atlanta and finally acquired something like a prototype of a computer. We could run it by connecting by modem to the main frame at the University. Just as that started to take off our partner the software writer moved to California. That was the end of the company.

Then other things started to shift. Our newspaper friend, J, moved to American Samoa to work for a paper there, and to have a South Sea adventure. D had started becoming more vociferous about various events. Of course we all were more and more concerned with the Vietnam war and the horrible things we saw on tv on a daily basis. It was a paranoid time, a time for paranoids. It was hard to separate things out.

The first strangeness was American Samoa. Coincidentally, Doonesbury was all about American Samoa at the same time- not before-at the same time that our friend arrived there. I cannot describe what was happening in my head then. It was all aswirl. The best analogy is Apocolypse Now! I was losing my footing in reality, and it was not from too many drugs. I rarely did anything at that point except smoke pot. Everything was too real- I did not need anything "recreational" to enhance what was going on.

So, to this day, I have no explanation for the things that happened in 1973 and 1974. I wish I did. From then on, things got crazier. There were more unexplained connections and coincidences. D was getting more manic. It became, and indeed was, just like A Beautiful Mind. None of us knew it, but D was descinding into Schizophrenia. It was tragic.

There was an intervention eventually, and more strange events that included Humphrey Osmond. What he was doing in Alabama at Bryce Hospital I will never understand. I survived somehow and had to remove myself. I moved back to Southside.

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