Wednesday, April 26, 2006

I remember driving my friend, Jon....

We had come into Vancouver from Langley to see Grapes of Wrath play at the Luv Affair. It was 1985 or so, and the Grapes were "the next big thing". Jon was old friends with the Hooper brothers from the Kelowna days, and I was excited to see them play. We parked about a block away from the space, and I was hopping to get in there. Jon pulled out a bottle of some sort of liquor, I don't remember what...."Want some?"

Oh, brother, what a nuisance. We were going to miss the band! I took a small swig, then passed it back. "Come on, Jon, lets GO! They will start any minute!"

"You go ahead. I want to drink for free out here instead of paying what they charge for drinks in there. I'll be there in a minute."

I left him at the car and ran into the club. The Grapes put on a good show, played all my favorite songs...but where was Jon? They were finishing the show and I realized that Jon was still nowhere to be seen! As they ripped into their encore (a hilarious version of "Smalltown Boy" by Bronski Beat), Jon came stumbling in. He was tanked!! Gassed! He could hardly walk!! Even more incomprehensible to me, he had missed the entire show! I helped him up to the stage so he could say hi to his friends. Tom just started laughing at him, slapped him on the face, hard...and Jon just wobbled and smiled. "Thish is my frien', Tom." Tom thought it was the funniest thing, slapped him a couple of times just because Jon wasn't stopping him. Nice guy.

It was then that my dilemma hit me. Jon drove us there from Langley. We both had an 8 AM class next morning. Jon was too drunk to walk, let alone drive. I did not have my driver's license. I didn't know anyone in Vancouver. I began explaining all of this to Jon as we made our way to his car. I had to explain it a few times before he got it. I was NOT going to drive to Langley at 2:30 AM, an almost hour's drive on a big highway.

"Jon, do you have a friend near here? Can you direct me to a friend's house?" Once he understood that he had to navigate, I started up the car and began driving. Yikes! I kept playing over and over in my mind what I would say to the policeman who would probably pull me over, how I had to drive so Jon wouldn't kill us both. The trip took awhile because at every corner I had to ask Jon if this was where we turned, and then he'd have to think about I would slow down. I was quite freaked out!

We made it to Jon's friend's house, probably 3 AM. I had to knock on the door of a stranger in the middle of the night, hoping it was the right house, hoping he actually liked Jon enough to let him in and not just slap him and laugh at him like his friend, Tom, at the show. Thankfully the guy was still up. I explained the predicament to him, and he agreed to let Jon sleep if off for a few hours. As soon as Jon hit the couch, he passed out.

Now what? Here I am with a complete stranger, watching our mutual friend sleep. It was awkward. I don't remember his name, but he made coffee and we sat up talking the whole night. I wish I could remember what we talked about. I'm sure at least part of the conversation revolved around the folly of drunkenness!

I shook Jon awake at 6:45 AM and made him drink a bunch of coffee. He drove us wearily back to Langley and we both made our 8 o'clock class. This would have been a great lesson for me, as I couldn't believe Jon had missed something so great as a concert for something as lame as would have been a great lesson if I had learned it. If you search through the archives of this blog, you will find many examples of me doing pretty much exactly the same thing. I guess instead of a lesson, it was foreshadowing....and I should have considered myself warned.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I remember wishing I had a car...

It was probably 1984, and I was still an earnest young student at Trinity Western University. I helped put out the school newspaper, and was given the lucky task of interviewing Larry Norman at his upcoming show. Yippee!! I loved his music, and I couldn't wait to grill him with earnest young questions.

I caught a ride into Vancouver, almost an hour away, with my friend, Walter. The show was fabulous. Larry was touring with his younger brother, Charles. (He looked EXACTLY like he did in this picture, which was the only one I could find on the internet of him in those days. Did he hide them all? I don't know why he would, he looked hot, or at least I thought so.) Anyway...after the show I got to go backstage and interview Larry. I found I didn't really have to ask any questions. He just talked and talked and talked, roving from one subject to another, all of it good. He wandered off to talk to someone else, and I got talking with Charles. By now it was late, 1 or 2 in the morning maybe, and I could see Walter looking at his watch and glaring at me.

I remember the next few moments very clearly. Charles, who was quite shy, looked up from beneath his glorious nest of hair and asked, " you want to go to McDonald's or something and get something to eat with me?"

Yes! Yes, I did!!! I was 18 years old, and all of a sudden I wanted to go to McDonald's very, very much. "Uh...I have no ride back to school. Ummm...just a sec!" I ran and pleaded with Walter to come along, but he would not. Walter is a very stubborn person. He wanted to go back to Langley at that very moment. I did not know what to do. I couldn't remember ever feeling more frustrated at not being able to drive. I gave Charles my regrets, and Walter dragged me out of there before we could say anything else about it.

In hindsight, I think I should have gone with Charles and risk being stranded. What a wimp, to not take a chance, to not grab the adventure before me, simply because I did not have a ride home. I am pleased to tell you that six years later, when another stranger chased me down and asked me to go for coffee, I didn't worry about the consequences or schedules, but instead said yes. Then I married him, and fifteen and a half years later, I'm still not sorry I did it! Perhaps I learned something from Charles after all...

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I remember watching "The Exorcist"...

Back in 1981, I was still not allowed to go to movie theatres, so when a movie was shown on television, it was a really big deal for me. They had been showing ads for "The Exorcist" for weeks. Mom kept clucking her tongue. I expressed no interest in watching the movie, though I secretly wanted to. It didn't look possible to watch it anyway, as I was going to be helping a friend babysit that night.

Mom drove into Raychelle's driveway. "Don't watch that horrible movie."

"OK, Mom, no problem."

She drove off and I ran into the house. Raychelle met me at the door. "Hurry!! I put the kids to bed already, and 'The Exorcist' is just about to start! Come on!!"

This is where I had a decision to make. This is the moment where I had to choose whether to obey my mother or to disobey her. I didn't even think twice. "Awesome! Is there popcorn?"

We sat in that farmhouse, side by side on the couch, and watched that movie in the deep shadows of the living room. I was terrified as the story unfolded. We shared a blanket, both becoming seriously freaked out. We had never seen anything like it, and we were all alone in a creaky old farmhouse in the dark. My mother's advice suddenly seemed like good advice, and I wished I had taken it, but it was too late.

As soon as the movie was over, Raychelle and I turned on every light in the house and sat in the kitchen waiting for her family to come home. We sat there for hours.

Monday, April 17, 2006

I remember starting to smoke...

I had tried a puff or two of other people's cigarette's when I was in High School, but I had never bought my own pack. To me, the level of your addiction was always related to whether you paid for the goods or not. I was only smoking vicariously through other people's habits...

...until I got back from that drama tour I wrote about in the previous entry. I had a summer job lined up, selling T-shirts outside of Expo 86 in Vancouver. I had a roommate and we had a place to live, a little travel trailer in the backyard of a Salvation Army preacher. And I no longer had any reason not to smoke, since I no longer counted as valid anything I'd been taught about behavior and morality.

The first pack of cigarettes I bought myself was More Menthol's. I figured they'd look good with my red fingernail polish. (It is all about looking good, isn't it?) I LOVED how they looked. I'd smoke while I walked to work, admiring myself in shop windows as I passed by. I'd smoke while I drank cups of coffee, learning to blow smoke rings and French inhale. I would smoke at the Luv Affair while I danced. I smoked as I waited for the bus. I loved smoking!

It didn't take long to become addicted all on my own, without any of my friends to blame it on or bum smokes from. Of course, back in 1986, you could buy a pack of smokes for $1.50 at the cheap smoke shop. I soon switched from More's to Peter Stuyvesant's, a Dutch cigarette, when I could find them...and if I couldn't find them, Player's would do in a pinch. I pretty much smoked non-stop for at least four years after that.

Monday, April 10, 2006

I remember having nothing to say...

I was a second-year college student at the Christian school, Trinity Western University. My major was Fine Arts, concentrating on Drama, minoring in English. I had joined the little drama troupe, Spectra, a five-person team that performed sketches and little plays. This was a great thing for me, really challenging but not beyond my abilities. I enjoyed being a part of it. To be honest, I had quite a crush on Dirk (yes, that was his name), but he never returned my affections. Oh well.

Anyway, at the end of the school year, we had a three-week tour booked all down the West Coast to California and back again, playing at churches to represent the school. The evening would consist of about half an hour of sketches, then one of us would give our testimony (for the unchurched among my readers, this means my little story of what God had done for me lately), and then the school staff member would give a plug for the school. We each took turns giving our testimony, one per night.

I'm not sure where on the journey this exactly happened. I was sitting in the back seat of the van beside Dirk, watching the highway roll by. The staff member called back from the front of the van, "Paula, it's your turn to give your testimony tonight." I was quiet for awhile as I thought about this. What had God done for me lately? What had He impressed on my heart? What difference was He making in my life? I couldn't think of a single thing. I watched Dirk watching the road roll by. He was so beautiful, so unattainable.

"Celestina?" I called up to her, "I can't give my testimony tonight. God hasn't done a bloody thing for me, and I don't want to lie to anybody."

It was very quiet in the van after that. Everybody used most of their energy to not look at me. I could feel them not looking at me. Dirk quietly asked if I was OK, and I said "yes". Inside, though, it felt like I had just jumped off of a very high bridge. I was realizing that the whole foundation on which my young life had been built thus far was, at worst, meaningless to me, or at best, unfathomable. All of a sudden my future was completely blank, wide open...empty.

Everyone kept me at arm's length for the rest of the trip. I performed my bits in the sketches, but I wasn't asked again to give my testimony.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I remember listening to my sisters' records....

The year, 1972 or -73. My two older sisters would once in a rare while be allowed to spend their money on records IF it wasn't rock and roll music. Simon and Garfunkel were allowed, but just barely.

I'm not sure where my mother or other sisters were during this memory. Perhaps they were out in the garden or cooking in the kitchen....but I remember having the living room all to my eight-year-old self. I remember the scratchy brown chesterfield and the knubbly green carpet. I remember taking Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits out of it's white paper and carefully placing it on the record player, then moving the heavy arm over and gently placing it on the black vinyl.

My favorite side was Side 1. They mentioned Jesus in "Mrs. Robinson" for starters, they felt groovy...they sang about silence having a sound. But the song that really got me was "I am a Rock". I would sit there, cross-legged on the floor with the record jacket on my lap, and sing that song with all my childish heart. When the song was over, I'd lift the needle arm and put it back at the beginning of the track and listen to it again, and again, and again...

I was a year younger than everyone else in my class at school, and I didn't fit in there very well. This song made me feel strong inside, I think. I read the lyrics now and they almost make me laugh. They read like bad junior high poetry! But I'm glad that song was there for me when I was a lonely little girl.