Odd, though I spent six years there, my memories of my teenage years are not so much string of beads, one thought attached to the next, as they are a small pile of unrelated incidents—like these blogs—which have to be picked up and considered individually. Of course, the more I think about those years, the more memories surface.
I suspect that one reason my memories of my teens are not more organized is because I wasn’t very fond of them. Lots of minor teen-type angst, lots and lots of raging hormones. As already indicated, I did not like my high school days and have almost no memories at all of them, except for an unrequited crush I had on a trombone player in the school orchestra. Being gay in high school is not easy. I had to put up with all the problems that come with puberty, plus dealing with the acute awareness that I had almost nothing at all in common with my “peers.” I don’t recall many incidents of harassment, and I was out to no one, not even my best friend Lief. However, I did take full advantage of the fact that raging hormones also affected my straight male classmates who were more than willing to experiment. (I distinctly recall a couple of times when, in the course of this experimentation, I was almost caught by my parents.)
I’m sure I had several acquaintances I might have considered to be friends at the time, and there are a number of names and faces which swim to the surface as I write…people I liked to varying degrees, and a couple I would rather like to run into again.
That I did not date is hardly surprising. At one point, my parents lined me up with the daughter of one of their friends. She was a student nurse at a nearby hospital. I arrived to pick her up and was told she was unavailable. I was vastly relieved on the one hand and not a little hurt on the other because I do not take any form of rejection well. I attended one party where Spin the Bottle was played, though I was excruciatingly embarrassed. I think I did kiss one of the girls simply because I had no way to avoid it, but really would have preferred one of the boys. Perhaps that was the beginning of my deep resentment of the arrogance of heterosexuals in assuming everyone is like them.
As for academics, I was a C+ student, largely because of my oft-mentioned laziness. I do not remember ever taking homework home.
We did not get a television until I was, I think, 14. I remember how people used to gather in front of hardware store windows to stare in awe at snowy images on huge, clunky-looking floor-consoles. Rockford was 90 miles from the nearest television station, in Chicago, and did not get its own station—singular—for another year or so.
I used to love coming in to Chicago, a two-hour bus trip, and would usually be so excited at the prospect that I would not sleep more than a couple of hours the night before. I took my first commercial airplane flight on a 20-passenger DC-3 from the newly opened Rockford airport to Chicago’s Midway airport. There was no O’Hare at the time.
Everything changed when I left for college, of course. I entered an entirely new world and an entirely new phase of my life. I felt, in some regards, not unlike a butterfly breaking out of the cocoon of my high school years. Whereas I was utterly neutral to high school and everything and nearly everyone associated with it, I to this day look back on my college years with nothing but delight—and, of course, the inevitable-for-me sense of longing and loss at the fact that they are gone forever. And if I was a different person when I entered my freshman year in 1952, I was different again when I returned from the Navy in 1956 to pick up my studies where I’d dropped them to join the NavCads. But by that time, I was no longer a teenager.
So many doors have closed behind me, but always there has been an unopened door ahead. I must learn to be satisfied with that.
This blog is from Dorien's ebook of blogs, Short Circuits, available from Untreed Reads and Amazon; it's also available as an audio book from Amazon/Audible.com: