Home > Fifty Five Is The New > 25 or 6 to 4

25 or 6 to 4


This is Thursday’s actual entry…the one before was actually for Wednesday, but I didn’t get to it ’til after midnight.

Today, Fifty-Five is more than the title of a song by the group Chicago. It’s about-well….

By February of my 25th year, I had been married, recently divorced and was heading to California on a Greyhound Bus. Diane was traveling with me, apparently she didn’t have anything in common with our former neck of the woods, either.

That’s not to say the place was bad…East Coast Philadelphia Suburbs can be very beautiful! In the spring and summer there were lush, green tree-lined streets, little row housed enclaves and bigger houses made from local quarry stones. In autumn the trees shown in a multitude of colors as the leaves shed their green through all the colors of the rainbow. In winter the place was covered with snow, until traffic had its way with it.

Beautiful.

But I didn’t belong there. Neither did Diane. We were two rebels, artists, liberated women in a place where most girls left home by getting married and most guys worked at the local so-and-so or went to college and worked part time at the local so-and-so until they graduated and opened up their own so-and-so, or inherited one from a somebody or another.

Well, I’d followed local protocol for the feminine of the species; got married to a great guy and set up housekeeping. We visited the families, had our share of parties with friends, and tried to make a go of it. Our gatherings were legendary. During the summers we held the annual Beggar’s Banquet, friends came from all over the place….we ate, we drank, we jammed.

We were great at throwing parties, but when it came to the marriage there’s only one way to say it; point blank, I was crazy.

No gory details needed for now, suffice to say that it was better all the way around that we went our separate ways. He survived Hurricane Me and went on to be a productive member of society.

We’ve stayed in touch off and on through the years and are on friendly terms to this day. Our birthson is in his thirties and we’ve been blessed with not only getting to meet him and his family, but to have an ongoing relationship. But I digress.

After we broke up, Diane and I (we’d met a few years earlier) became room mates. We planned to go to California once we had enough money saved.

Now, I’d wanted to go to California for a long time…since puppyhood just about. One of my high school friends had moved to San Francisco and enticed us out for a visit. Once there we were hooked. It’s scenery, multi-cultural experiences and people resonated with us like “back east” never could. These people KNEW about things like hot and spicy food, instant happenings, corners to sing on…and had a great assortment of it all to choose from! Sure, they had those things in Philly, but it was different…just not my flavor.

We came back from California and started saving up every extra penny. Rents back home, back in the day, were a heck of a lot cheaper than San Francisco. We kind of knew that. But the true level of sticker shock awaited us when we hit The City (never “Frisco”).

Several things contrived to make our departure swift and unceremonious. Most extractions are. Suffice to say we left after selling everything at a frantic pace…the only things we carried were in 2 matching sets of Fingerhut luggage, a very large back pack and a guitar in its case. Funny story about the Fingerhut luggage….we ordered one set for each of us. Time was getting close for our departure and we needed that luggage so I called the company and complained. Next thing I knew we not only got our original order, but two other orders as well!

We called the company but they didn’t know what to tell us. According to them we got our one shipment and that was it. Okay….fine. Only what were we going to do with the extra sets? As it turned out they made great Christmas gifts for a couple of friends who were also going on a trip! Ahh, the art of re-gifting!

Anyway, the night of our departure, my parents insisted we eat dinner with them, then drove us to the bus station. I knew they were upset. I knew they thought I was crazy…and I knew they were right. But I knew that California was my destiny. It was the only thing I was sure of at the moment. I was going to either make it or break it out there. Diane, I felt sure, would be okay even if I ended up weaving baskets somewhere.

My dad bet we’d be home in six months. That’s all I needed to hear to remove any vestiges of doubt. No way was I going to be the one to pay on that wager!

Mom and Dad objected all the way up to the ticket booth, then insisted on paying for traveler’s insurance.

When the bus engine rumbled to life I turned to my parents and looked at them, knowing it would be a while before seeing them again. They looked smaller than I’d ever seen them. I felt a pang of guilt, certain this was killing my mother. Did any of me want to call the whole thing off, say “Stop it, no! I don’t wanna!” ?

No.

Not in the “I have reservations” sense. Admittedly, I felt homesick even before the bus pulled out. We got our seats and waved to the folks ’til they were long out of sight. I knew mom was crying, I went into the bus’s chemically smelling bathroom and cried too.

I felt bad for hurting my parents, for being such a unique kid and for growing up into such a confusing/confused adult…but I did not feel bad for moving to California. In truth, I believe to this day that doing so saved my life.

Meanwhile back at the bus, I looked in the mirror and made a mental note to remember the moment. (At the time this was a greater feat than one would think) “Well,” I said to the dimly lit reflection, “no turning back now.”

What brings me to this Fifty-Five feeling today is life and energy and taking leaps of faith then sticking around long enough to enjoy the ride all the way to its conclusion…be it Butch and Sundance or Thelma and Louise.

That’s what Fifty-Five is for me today…Fifty-Five is the New 25 or 6 to 4…the end of an era, the beginning of something new and the roll of a dice.

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