Jane & Eric in happier times in 1960 when my dad received his PhD
In 1965 when I was ten years old, my mom and dad got divorced. It was a family cataclysm that had been a long time coming, a severe emotional trauma in many ways, and a relief in others.
Now at age 53 I look back at the years leading up to my parents’ breakup – old pictures, my memories and my brother’s, and recalling things my mom shared with me later. I have pictures of my parents standing together (for the picture presumably) with happy smiles on their faces. I remember them together in the front seat of the car when we took trips to visit family or vacation back east, or taking us out to dinner at some local restaurant.
But in the years leading to their divorce in 1965, I also remember my mom’s angry words to my dad that there was not enough money, that she felt like a drudge, and that she needed the opportunity to pursue her own development as my dad was working for his PhD and later as a college professor. My dad would not say so much in response except to express his hurt at her anger and that he was doing the best that he could. Often later, after one of their verbal “fights”, he would share privately with me how frustrating she was. Continue reading →
Drinking (and to a lesser extent drug use) to excess is a legendary, mythologized aspect of college life. As the Whiffenpoofs song says, “Let us drink a toast to all we love the best”. I had my own encounter with this “self-hazing” cultural tradition when I went off to my first year of college after graduating from high school in 1972.
During my senior year of high school, I followed the conventional programmed path, applied and was accepted to two colleges – the University of Michigan in my hometown of Ann Arbor and Western Michigan University, 100 miles west in Kalamazoo. Since I was interested in theater at the time (see “JLO”) I decided to go to Western, because I heard that they had a better theater department. Since my mom was a single parent with a limited income (basically child support paid by my dad), I managed to get a financial need grant and a little bit of a scholarship as well, which paid for a large part of the cost. Continue reading →