Friday, March 12, 2010

My son, Bob, stopped by on his drive back to the ranch from the mountains ... as he often does these days ...

and I showed him the photo below, taken at Stebbins Institute lo those many years ago -- his response was interesting. He recalled that trip into Carmel Valley on the Kesey bus, though he remembered it as an all-children's tour. I knew that it was for families because permission was not granted by the conference for the group to take the children along without their parents. There's a message in there somewhere -- maybe the parents were eclipsed by the colorful Pranksters so thoroughly that parents ceased to exist even in memory; not surprising. Everything that week was larger than life and remains so in looking in the rear view mirror.

Bob confirmed that the LSD "rumors" were well-founded. As a young teen at the time, he was probably more aware of the beginnings of the era of the drug culture than I, his abstinent non-adventurous mother, would ever have been. During that eventful week, it was my generation that was wide-eyed.

That summer was surely the threshold into an unbelievably wild and crazy decade or two; decades filled with wonder and awe and disappearing boundaries. We were witnesses to the advent of unimaginable disconnections between the generations, and between modern suburban and urban life. This would be the dawning of the sexual revolution and the emancipation of women; this time "for real," and not as in WWII when both were snatched back unceremoniously when the war ended and we were fed two decades of June Cleaver and Donna Reed in high heels and aprons. We witnessed (in my household and in the Academy) a coming-together of western physics and Tibetan Buddhism; with cults and communes replacing the family structure in many ways. We would begin to hear the word "alternative" used almost as often as today's "diversity" and "multiculturalism" are scattered throughout the most mundane of conversations.

Our family managed to survive pretty well intact over the next few dramatic years of revolutionary social change. Only our eldest, Rick, was a casualty of the times, but it was not from drug addiction but from alcohol which eventually took his life in a thinly-veiled suicide in the mid-Nineties; though his alcoholism was symptomatic of a complex combination of causal factors that were overwhelming; including sexual identity.

Yesterday, March 11th, would have been Rick's birthday. There is always some reason why he returns so sharply -- and always outlined boldly in black on each anniversary -- still.

This time it's a weird little snapshot of his mother with a star painted in the middle of her forehead ... .

Happy Birthday, Rick!