Sunday, February 22, 2004

My Year of Living Dangerously

What year of your youth was your favorite and why? Remember?

July of 1974 through November of 1975.

Worked in a restaurant that closed at 2 am, stayed after hours, sometimes all night, drinking beer, playing strip poker. Home at 6am, sleep for three hours, back to work by 11, eyes feeling like sandpaper. Got fired from the job (which became a recurring thread in my life!)…NOT for hanging around drinking beer after hours, though, hard as that is to believe.

Made THREE cross-country road trips. The first one was in August of 1974, with my sister and her jerk of a boyfriend, when she moved to Oregon. (Heard about Nixon’s resignation on a car radio somewhere on the back roads of Arizona, and wondered in a detached sort of way if the world was going to end.) I left Chris in Medford, living in a tent, and flew home to resume my life.

Then in May of 1975, I drove to California with a guy from work…to this day I don’t know why the hell I decided to do this. It wasn’t meant to be a romance, and turned out NOT to be one after all, though it sort of almost kind of was for a few days. The highlights of this trip were sleeping under the stars at a forty-five degree downhill angle, on a mountainside above Salt Lake City, with patches of snow within arm’s reach. And getting a speeding ticket, also in Utah. I hate Utah.

In September, my sister Donna decided she needed to move to Oregon, too. So three of us---Donna, Lauren, and I—planned a "grand tour" road trip that would land us in Oregon so Donna could check out the possibilities. We left Illinois in September, and were on the road for eight weeks. Three girls, three sleeping bags, a tent, a Coleman stove and lantern, and my guitar. Crosby, Stills & Nash…Dan Fogelberg…John Denver. Drove to California through Kansas, Texas, New Mexico and Arizona (the Grand Canyon!), then up the coast of California, through Big Sur, Carmel (sigh!) Landed in Eugene in early November, then rode the train home just before Thanksgiving. (Donna left her car in Oregon to bolster her resolve to return.) The greatest time of my (unfortunately NOT misspent) youth.

About two weeks after our return home, this good-looking guy who worked at Kmart with my sister Lauren, started calling me on the phone… And so ended my days of footloose wandering!


  1. This actually sounds like a lot of fun to me. The cross country trips, drinking, sleeping under the stars. Ah--to be young again...

  2. After reading your best year ever, mine would seem soooo boring! This had to be so exciting. I would not be brave enough to travel cross country!! Kristi

  3. Ah, this does bring back memories...the late nights, the wanderlust, the camaraderie. I too did some wandering in my wild & largely misspent youth, supporting myself working as a waitress or bartender wherever I happened to land. Oh, the glorious lack of responsibility! Freedom, youth and Karen says...'to be young again'... :)

  4. Great story ~ I love the 8 week sojourn. That would be my idea of heaven.

  5. Did you say strip poker? LOL

    It sounds like you had made some wonderful memories. :-)

    I can't imagine having to answer that question. Talk about difficult! I'd have to think about it for few days...

  6. Could you imagine if you had a young daughter who wanted to do that trip now? The answer would be: NOT on your life!!!! Those were better days. Great story Lisa! Thanks for your kindness!

  7. What an incredible year. I wish that I had been that adventurous.