I’ve been taking these nature walks with an old friend from high school, learning all about native edibles and medicinals. She and I finally got a tea date on the books, and we met at the most charming little place, a restaurant in a house located in our old haunt, Uptown. First, I must say, that they craft the best chai tea’s I’ve ever had. I had two of them and was bouncing off the walls with caffeinated glee. Catching up with my old friend was incredible. She is an herbalist and healer. She’s smart, sassy and totally pragmatic. She’s passionate about nature spirituality. Back in the day, we hung out a bit and did some drugs and drinky together, but I really didn’t know her all that well. She is a tiche older than me, and ended up leaving school too-soon and she had her own teenage angst issues that led her down some, as I found out, very challenging paths. It was a relief to talk to someone who not only completely understood where I was coming from because she’d had a very similar experience, but also has changed her life for the better. I am often frustrated by the fact that people that I run into from those days are doing the same old shite, and makes me leery of making connections with people stuck in the same patterns. And it’s hard to discuss my past with people who have had “traditional” upbringings, because they simply do not and can not get it. They gasp when I mention the things I used to do. It makes me feel like a freak. With her, she just GOT IT, and I didn’t need to explain or elaborate to try to paint a picture, she JUST KNEW. She was there. She’d done the same stuff. She’s seen and experienced a lot, and grew up hard. Harder than me, certainly. And she doesn’t judge me or think I’m a freak or act like it’s such a foreign concept to have had a different sort of life.
Back then, that’s all I knew, that’s all any of us knew. It was totally normal for us. But then you grow up and start working, and suddenly you’re with all these small town or suburban “heroes” who did everything right. They had married parents who loved each other. They took vacations. They did their homework, their mom or dad helping them and saying encouraging words as they did it. They did their chores, went to bed on time. They read books that stimulated their imagination, had birthday parties with cute little favors. They went to dances at school, went on dates to the movies with popcorn and soda, hung out at malls, learned to drive. They had cars. They made good grades, they applied for colleges. Yada yada yada. I grew up a little differently. I knew the twisted minds of people. I knew hatred, fear, and terror. I knew that men were dangerous and devious. I knew that women were tricksy and crazed. I’d seen how people cheated and lied and became successes because of it. I knew Santa Claus was a crock of shit, as was The American Dream. I knew people thought of one thing only: themselves. And I knew that given any chance, people would mess with you for fun, and they would take advantage of you. I learned early to never trust anyone, especially not myself. I learned to look for the motives in any situation, and found it almost never benefits any but the one holding the hand.
Digressing, it was a relief to just talk to someone who was there, who got it. Who had seen and known a similar world. And the best part was, we didn’t get hung up on it, we just chatted casually and had a great time. We had fun. We swept from topic to topic in lighthearted manner, touching on the serious but not getting bogged down with it. We enjoyed chai, talking of the past, present and future. We talked of herbs and nature, of healing and making potions, of our spiritual beliefs and ritual. We discussed dreams and mundane life in general. It was awesome opening another door.
“Gonna get my Ph.D! I’m a teenage lobotomy!”