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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Child of the 60's



1970 High School
I have been in a reminiscent mood lately. 
Been thinking about my life, 
and how hellish hard it's been,
but also how crazy fun it's been; 
how I have always marched 
to the beat of my own drum.

Sometimes that's worked out the way I planned.
Sometimes I just "rode the wave."

I was a teen during the 60's,
an exciting time to be alive!

We marched for Civil Rights.
We marched for Women's Rights.

We watched in shock
as Kent State unfolded.


We burned our bras
and watched while male friends 
burned their draft cards.

Tossing those bras in the FREEDOM Trash!
We had sit-ins, and love-ins.
We made love, not war,
and we believed in Flower Power!


My friends and I weren't bad kids,
but we were bold.

Dickens describes my childhood perfectly:
"It was the best of times and it was the worst of times."
I was constantly running away,
without really knowing from what.
Maybe I was running TO something?

I went to the beach 
with my girlfriend, Pepper, 
when I was 15.
We slept on the beach one night 
and at a Buddhist crash pad another.

The Buddhist hippies waylaid us
while we were walking on the beach. 
They were dressed in bright-colored robes,
seemed real friendly.

They were a little older than we were,
maybe in their late teens.
They talked us into following them
and led us to a house, 
where there must have been 
50 hippie kids, 
all sitting in front of an altar, 
chanting
"Nam-myoho-renge-kyo"


I have since learned,
these were Nicherin Buddhists.
Here is a sample of the chanting.
I imagine a minute or two 
will give you the idea.


They told us if we chanted, 
we could have whatever we wanted.
So we did.

For about an hour.

And well, 
I guess the chanting worked!
I've traveled the world,
 married and had beautiful children and grandchildren,
and I am rich in memories and life experience.
Everything I wanted.

One thing I was reminded of today 
by my Facebook Friend, Tina Valle, 
was that when I was 17, I ran away 
all the way to Puerto Rico!  

Look at that sweet face!
I looked so young and innocent back then,
but 
I was fearless!


After graduation, I had ideas of my own
about what I wanted to do with my life.
My parents had different ideas,
and so I ran . . . again.

I caught a flight to San Juan, Puerto Rico,
where my biological father was living with his girlfriend.
I got a job as a Go-Go dancer in a tiny bar 
called The Big Bamboo 
in Old San Juan.
There was no enforced drinking age then.
If you could sit at the bar and order, 
they served you.



I lived in a house in Levittown Lakes 
which was across the Cataño Bay. 

Each afternoon, I caught a "publico," 
which was a private minibus,
to the ferry.
I would just stand on the side of the road and wave
and the guy would stop.
The fare was 20 cents.

I got off work at 3 am and then 
had to ride the ferry back across the bay. 
That was a little scary at first because of the lepers.
I had never been exposed to anything like that before.

At the end of the 19th century, 
a leper colony was established on the island, 
Isla de Cabras.

In 1926, a leper asylum was built 
on the main island (Trujillo Alto) next to a church, 
and the residents of the colony were moved there. 

As late as 1970, t
here were still lepers living nearby 
who would ride the ferry with me late at night. 
It was a little unnerving for a 17 year old, 
even one as adventurous as I.

The ferry was an old one, like in this vintage post card. 
Sometimes, there would be a publico available
when I got off the ferry going home.
Other times, I'd hitch a ride
or walk.
The worst thing about the walk 
were the land crabs
that would come out and cover the road
 like a horror movie scene.

I loved my job.
I LOVED it!
I danced from 8 pm until 3 am.
I made great money
and made many friends from other countries.
Old San Juan was a port for sailors,
and they came in from all over.
It was fun meeting people from different countries
with all their different accents.
And all we had one thing in common,
"You like the Beatles?"


We did wear these funny outfits
and we did dance like this back then.
Are you old enough to remember?
This is a You-Tube video if you want to hit play.

In Puerto Rico, I met my first husband
and had my eldest son. 
The marriage didn't last long,
we were both too young,
and I was soon on my own again.

From Puerto Rico,
I moved to St. Croix, Us Virgin Islands.
I got a job as a legal secretary
and then with an architect.

I lived in the ruins of an old Sugar Mill.
It was an awesome place, built of stone.
I could see the sea from all my windows.
I had some fun parties at that place!
In St. Croix, I met my husband, Joe #1.
That's me in the white chair in the back, talking to my one-day husband, at the tail end of one of my parties.
While in St. Croix, 
my father and brother were killed in a plane crash.
My eldest son and I were supposed to be on the plane.
But that's another story.

Joe #1 and I married, and our family grew
to the 3 wonderful sons
who bless my life so richly today.


We lived in St. Croix, then Miami, 
and then Joe was transferred to Georgia
where we bought this pretty little brick house
for $29,000.
Can you believe it?
House payments were less than $200
and we wondered how in the world 
we would ever make those payments!
It's funny now.


Those were some happy times.

Joe and I eventually went our separate ways,
but stayed closed friends for the sake of our children.
We all still talk to him regularly.

I moved to Bakersfield and worked as a legal secretary 
and for Chevron Overseas.
I typed reports in Spanish for 12+ Venezuelan geologists.
That was the first job I had using a computer.
Little did I know how much that Spanish would help me!

I went to college and got a degree in Wildlife Management.
When I got a job offer with US Fish and Wildlife Service,
I packed up my boys and I moved to Oregon.
While working with the government,
I transferred into a job with Fisheries in Seattle,
then back to USFWS at an Arizona refuge,
and from there back to Oregon.


After being in Oregon many years,
I met my friend, Joe #2


We tried a romantic relationship,
but decided we were happier as friends.
And after nearly 20 years,
Joe is still my best friend, 
and my walking buddy.

When I was diagnosed with MCS,
the doctor gave me several options for treatment.
One was long distance walking
to help chelate the chemicals that were making me ill.
In searching for a safe place to walk for 4-6 weeks,
I discovered the Camino Santiago de Compostela.

I wasn't afraid to go alone,
but Joe offered to come along, 
and we have been walking it each year since.

Here we are in SJPP setting out for our first Camino:

So there you go.
It's been a wild ride,
but I've survived,
and I give thanks for every morning I wake up alive.
I am the luckiest woman on earth
and I'm blessed!

I won't say it's not important where I've been,
because those challenges are what honed me
and made me strong.

What is more important, however,
is where I'm going.

And that is back to SPAIN in 2016
to walk, once more, 
the Camino Santiago de Compostela.

Come walk with me!
Let's talk about the 60's!
We'll have a blast!

Love,
Annie

3 comments:

  1. May the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, be with you and remain with you always.

    Your sincere friend, JGE+

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Father. I hope you are healing quickly. Did you enjoy your Camino?

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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