"How bleak was my puberty." Agnes Gooch, Auntie Mame.
Just to recap, born early 60s, both parents second marriage, age of Camelot, raised American, entitled to pursue happiness. Self-discovery, awareness, path in life all came pretty early, shocking to my little mind but dealt with it through creativity, focus, empathy, lots of love, and later drugs.
Late 60s, family foundation begins to cave in, slowly, a constant string of negative experiences, bullied regularly, living poor, but my ideas and individuality were encouraged by my elders. Move to California for a couple of years, introduced to a whole new way of living, it was tough being uprooted but it did create a sense of adventure, then back to New Mexico, the onslaught of harsh times would really kick in then.
Focus focus, good teachers, good books, music, start coming out, trip the fuck out of a lot of small minded folk, learn not to back down. Create support system, amazing loving friends, elders, hell I even felt safe at church.
Okay, where was I? Oh yeah, calamity Jane.
Dad was a community activist, everyone loved him. He was the kind of guy that edited school textbooks, was invited to China after that wall fell or whatever. Built clinics, all for the cause, the poor, the Chicano people, wait a minute, I'm a Chicano? Anyway, so he was a grand public figure who gave voice to the under served, took some kind of vow of poverty or whatever, became a Communist after China, life was strange, but I had my outlets.
Then one night, boom, Dad kills himself. The community turned their back, my grandma, who once sewed my outrageous outfits, kicked us off the small plot of land, I blanked out. Took a month off, we, ended up in a trailer on the west side mesa, pretty much extricated from the idea of home, so I got gayer, and more productive. Then also it became clearer that even through all of this turmoil and upheaval, change, that I still had my dream. So I had to finish high school and get the hell out of Dodge.
It was then that I first began to dream about Santa Fe, it was only an hour away, obviously gayer, seemed a little more snobby and I could go to school to get my degree in acting. Oh wait, I forgot to mention that, yes I wanted to be an actor, well and a writer, a photographer, a video sensation, a ballet dancer, and something else, oh a model. The high school art teacher was originally from Santa Fe, she would tell stories of the time when she was a girl growing up there, you know it was a different time, kind of glamorous.
I didn't know how to apply to college, and even though I could pull a 4.0 average even under the duress, my records were shoddy at best. Then something like disco and the Village People, Punk, New Wave, all of those alternatives occurred. What about San Francisco? Hey I am talking late 70s here, the joint was jumping, and cheap.
In the meantime I was still being harassed daily, had accumulated enough credits to have art classes three to four hours a day, flunked algebra, never took gym, took typing and dj'ing instead, was out to my family, lots of drama from many sources within and without there, but mostly support, dated the class president, son of a state legislator, fell in love with a basketball player, went to church everyday at 7am, had my support, my derision, doubt, draw, write daily, survive.
Judy introduced me to Queen, the band, we were both members of the subversives, the ones that would take lunch in the art teacher's classroom. One day we put up some Monty Python-esque posters during the school elections, something about a Stalin like rat. We would intentionally fuck with things, it was fun, we were bored. Anyway Judy got me into Queen, I bought that t-shirt, that album promotion, it was a robot head, with Queen written in bold letters beneath the image. I wore that to school, some trio of boys say, "Hey Queen, where is your dress." I know, sounds trite now, but that was the least of it. I told my mom later, in the trailer on the mesa, the one that was never placed right on its supports, would rock in the desert wind. She replied, "Why didn't you tell them it was at the cleaners?"
Years later when Grandma and I became friends again, I was living in New York at the time, I would call her and grill her about the past, her past, mine, ours. She would tell me anything, happy to divulge, both of us happy to have that friendship back, but at a certain point she would say, that's enough, and that is when we would wrap up our conversation.
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