I grew up in a time where war and peace were joined together. A time where teenagers wore their hair long and flowing, sat in the park in numbers, and smoked pot and sucked on sugar cubes coated in LSD. A time where acid and flowers were the sure way of stopping the war; and a time where protests and rallies were subject to awful police violence.
In 1967, the summer of love, I, Pam Gershwin, was eighteen. My grades were excellent and I had a position at Yarsher, one of the top colleges in my hometown of Brooks, Florida. I was planning on going to college and living at home. I had a job as a waitress at Yarsher Yummies, a fast food restaurant near the college that was run by the college students.
My father, Jack, was a WWII veteran. He wore his patriotism on his sleeve. As the damned Republican he was, he believed that the war was right and it was the only thing that would keep the U.S. out of trouble.
My mother, Mary, agreed with everything my father said. She was weak, both politically and disciplinary. What my father said went. That was how it was. No questions asked. If Dad said that the sky was green with polka-dots, Mom agreed. If Dad said that Mickey Mouse was the best candidate for our new President, Mom said that it was a fantastic idea. If Dad grounded us for no reason, Mom said he was perfectly right to do so.
My sister, Janis, was a rebel. She was twenty and had dropped out of Brooks College, the local two-year. All she did all day was play her guitar in the park with her hippie friends and smoke pot. She’d even have sex with her boyfriend in that park to make a rebellious statement. Her long blonde hair was loose and wavy all over her face and back. She never wore a bra or underwear anymore—just loose peasant tops and long, colorful skirts. She was only home at mealtimes. The only reason that Dad didn’t kick her out was because he knew that it would break Mom’s heart, and even though he didn’t care about her views on anything else, he respected the fact that she wanted her daughter to be safe and sound.
I was not the rebellious type. I wore the clothes my mother picked for me. Usually they were nice skirts—single-tone, mind you—and button-up blouses. My hair was halfway down my back, but was always put into a braided bun held together with orange ribbons.
“Your hair is the perfect tone for orange ribbons,” my mother always said. And so it was. My hair was long, straight, thin, and white-blonde. It shined so brilliantly when it was brushed. I did everything I was supposed to do when I was supposed to do it. I never back-talked my parents or did anything against their wishes. I think that this is why I fell apart in the end—why my rebellious side was so strong when I left. My perfect child complex nearly led to my demise—and my near demise led to my mother’s and father’s.
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