Thursday, August 27, 2009

Way Back When

As I mentioned in yesterday's post about Facebook, we had dinner last night with an old friend of mine I hadn't seen in 30 years or so. Her parents are still alive and live in the town we both grew up in (where I still live); she was here visiting them this week.

She became a Mormon when she was 20. She married another one of my friends, who was brought up in a Mormon family. They moved to Salt Lake City, had a couple of kids, then her husband died about 20 years ago. She's lived in SLC as a single mom with kids ever since (one daughter is married with a baby, living near San Francisco, the other still lives at home with her mom).

So, we caught up on 30 years of history. We talked and talked and talked and were practically the last diners in the restaurant when we left at 10pm (way past my usual time out on a school night!).

One interesting thing I noticed during our conversation were some of the observations she had of me and my family from the time we were hanging around together back in the 70s.

My version of the early 70s: I started getting high on pot when I was 13, in 1969. I then proceeded to spend as much of my time high as possible for the next few years. I hung around with a group of about 10-12 people that a teacher in our high school dubbed "the Party People." I cut class, was regularly suspended, and eventually my parents sent me to boarding school for my last 2 years of high school in an attempt to get me back on track academically. Not surprisingly, my parents and I had a difficult relationship during this time, especially with my father. He and I had angry battles at the dinner table often (in memory, it seems like every night).

My friend's comments about that period: my parents were cool and very laid-back. I had a good relationship with them, the best of all her friends with their respective parents. She was impressed there was no tv in our house (the tv broke when I was about 9 and my parents didn't buy one again until I was in college).

I get along wonderfully with my parents now. I see them every two weeks (they live about 2 hours from here) for a social visit and to help with bill paying, balancing the check book and the like. They are wonderfully supportive of Skip's and my relationship. They are big fans of me, for which I feel quite lucky, especially where things were not so great between us in earlier years.

My friends comments got me to thinking about my relationship with my parents during my teens: was it really as bad as I remember? I suspect not. Sure, when I got suspended or got caught smoking dope, there'd be a confrontation about that, probably multiple confrontations. And, my father and I argued at dinner pretty regularly. But, I also remember lots of good times in our everyday lives. My father always had projects going and I often helped him out (especially when I was the last kid left at home, being the youngest with 2 siblings off at college). One weekend, he and I planted 2500 Christmas and fruit trees together (no, that is not a typo, it was 2500 seedlings). He had a huge garden and each July we'd have a big strawberry jam-making session with bread and butter pickle canning later in the summer. My parents were always welcoming to my friends who came to visit.

Interesting how an evening's conversation can supply new information and perspective to help shine a different light on one's personal history. The memories haven't changed, but my emphasis on one side of the story has shifted a bit as a result.


awb said...

Sometimes you need someone to point out what you actually remember. It's great you and your parents share good times together, it's important. Sounds like we wouldn't have been allowed to play together when we were younger!


Cranky said...

Andy - so are you saying you were a goody two shoes as a kid? Or that your parents tried to steer you clear of bad influences? :-)

awb said...

Is a sissy the same thing as a goody two shoes? I have sister that was our resident bad influence. She taught me to smoke when I was 8 so I couldn't tell on her.

Herrad said...

Hi Cranky,
Love your post, good to catch up with old friends.
I met my first best friend when I went back for a visit to Trinidad in 1997.
We left when I was just 11 in 1962.
Meeting Gillian again was brilliant.

Have a good day today.