—From EF—

I’m gonna try again. I traveled to my high school reunion—a first for me—last July and didn’t get there. O’Hare was closed to all air traffic by a whopper of a storm, and I spent the night sleeping (?) on the cold tile floor of the St. Louis airport. I missed the next afternoon’s reunion, but did get to spend time with my only high school chum, Marilyn, staying overnight before heading to Milwaukee to see my brother Dan and my lifelong friend Flora. Let’s see if the Multiverse will let me hit the reunion this year.

1957, geez, that’s 67 years ago. I didn’t know much of anybody at Valparaiso High School, having been not only a nerd introvert but also more or less a prisoner of my mother, our house being nine miles from the school. Looking at the yearbook’s senior photos won’t be much help in recognizing people, and I sure as hell don’t look the same. However, I was modestly notorious, having been valedictorian and the school’s first National Merit scholar. There were two of us that year, and Lee Carlson was the other. He was my first-ever date and asked me to the prom. I wish he was still on this planet.

I’m flying out a day early, leaving time for two other reunions. First I’ll visit the family of John Davies, still at his old family home. It was a fifteen-minute walk down the dusty farm-country road from my house, and his dad and mine worked in the same Chicago office. He was three years younger than me and I knew his older brother better, so I wouldn’t say either was a close friend. But I did stay at their house more than a few times when it was convenient for my parents to be somewhere else.

In 1995 I surprised myself when I was on a solo road trip to join Conrad at a pagan gathering in Wisconsin. I suddenly took the exit from the Indiana Toll Road and drove to my old house. I had a little visit with the current owners, then stopped to visit John. We climbed a few levels up in the frame of his windmill and sat among the grapevines, learning who we were now. After some catch-up chat, he leaned forward and spoke in a low, direct voice: “You know, we all knew what you were going through, but there was no way we could do anything.” I nearly fell off the windmill.

My dad was a senior executive, John’s father was several ranks down, and my parents’ skimpy social world was among the older set. I have no idea how the Davies family knew about the abuse, but they did. I caught my breath: no, it was real, I didn’t make it up. John gave me a priceless gift, nearly thirty year ago, and I look forward to a reunion with him again.

Then I’ll spend the afternoon at my old house and its surrounding woods and fields. I know the house will have been renovated beyond recognition, but in the course of a lot of emails with the current owner, I know that most of the woods are untouched by development, and I will have my reunion with the natural world that kept me alive as a little kid.

I think all this will play a part in another reunion—the scattered inner family members who inhabit Elizabeth. I’ve been sending out “invitations”, guided by a friend who is a skilled therapist, and one by one they’re becoming visible. Each of them was born of necessity, allies in one trauma after another, but most of them so far distant in my childhood memories that they have blended into a diffuse cloud. I think this visit to their birthplace will give us all a better view of who we all are, and how our hearts are one.


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