I returned from my odyssey of backpacking through Europe for eleven weeks, a changed and still changing person in equally changed or still changing circumstances. I focused on exploring the dimensions of those changes while reconnecting with my family and close friends and trying to find a path forward into a life beyond my youth. Click on the chapter heading to read the chapter.
PART 1: CLUBIUS – I awake at home in my bedroom, now transformed and doubling as my my mom’s office, the next morning after returning from Europe and begin a busy day with plans to reconnect with friends and my ‘feminist aunt’ Mary Jane, that will culminate with the much anticipated Alice Cooper concert.
PART 2: THE BLUE FRONT & BICYCLE JIM’S – Continuing my first day home from Europe I happily trek the route I’ve walked a hundred times before to the local newsstand where I purchase an important accessory for my solo sex life. Then on to the restaurant where at my ‘feminist aunt’ Mary Jane’s suggestion, she, her son Keith, and my mom listen the story of my travels and annotate a map of Western Europe with the highlights I share.
PART 3: EBERWHITE WOODS – After lunch and sharing my Odyssey with my mom and ‘extended family’ at Bicycle Jim’s I head out on my own on foot across town and through Eberwhite Woods to Avi and Jerry’s, where after a brief encounter with Jerry’s mom, we meet up, get stoned, and venture to McDonald’s for dinner before we start our trek back through the Woods to Crisler Arena for the Alice Cooper concert.
PART 4: BILLY & ALICE – My long first day home from Europe finally comes to its anticipated climax with Jerry, Avi, Clark and I suitably stoned for the Alice Cooper concert, though the opening act, an up and coming Texas band called ‘ZZ Top’ almost steals the show. I am taken with one of Alice’s new songs ‘Big Apple Dreaming’ and Avi loses a cowboy hat but gets a kiss.
PART 5: THE BASEMENT – The next morning after the concert, I wake up in my bedroom now more of a guest room doubling as my mom’s office. Given I want somewhere in the house I can smoke weed without disturbing my mom, plus her interrupting some intimate ‘private time’ in my former room, I decide that everyone’s peaceful coexistence in our household will be better served if I move my bedroom down to the basement, such as it is. My mom is incredulous, at my suggestion, given our basement is dark and has an unfinished concrete slab floor and cinderblock walls, but assists me in lugging furniture from the attic and old upstairs bedroom down to my newly claimed digs. Then I use some old decorative fishnets to create at least the illusion of a separate space.
PART 6: LANE & ANGIE – I make an important reconnection with best friends Lane and Angie, the two originally conceiving the European trip that I eventually embarked on with just Angie and after one week in England ended up on my own. I give them the highlights of my tale, while Angie fills me in on what she did in England after she parted company with me in London.
PART 7: REHEARSAL – At Lane’s suggestion, she, Angie and I crash the YTU rehearsal for Rogers and Hammerstein’s musical “Cinderella” and reconnect with some of our old theater group buddies, particularly Tania, Morgan and Max.
PART 8: BARRACUDA – After my mom decides that she can’t spend Christmas down in Dayton with Aunt Pat because she is still mad at my dad for the whole Mary thing, it is agreed that dad will come up and at least take us down to his place in Xenia for a long weekend together.
PART 9: DR Z – My brother and I hang out with our dad in his tiny upstairs apartment in Xenia and indulge in all our usual pass times there. We head out to Antioch college where my dad teaches part time to use the gym there to shoot some baskets and play paddle ball. We end up at a little campus coffee shop staffed by one of dad’s students, who gives us a glimpse into a different aspect of his life.
PART 10: LONG DRIVE HOME – My brother, dad and I experience yet another sad Sunday, like many in the past, when he needs to drive us the four hours home to Ann Arbor and then repeat that four hour drive to back down to Xenia. I am struck by that sacrifice dad has made every time in the past five years he has driven up to Ann Arbor to bring us down to his place for a weekend. At breakfast at one of his favorite cheap diners in Xenia, before leaving for our long drive north, I invoke my new ‘Coopster’ persona and initiate a discussion of the issues between him and our mom.
PART 11: MISTER JIM – On a day home alone, with nothing else on the agenda, I smoke some of the killer Mexican weed on ‘loan’ from Clark and take a deep audio dive into the Who’s new ‘Quadrophenia’ album that my mom gave me as a Christmas present. I am drawn to the central character of their rock opera, Jimmie, but am particularly struck by a certain piece that clashes with my budding feminism.
[More to come!]