Friday, April 03, 2020

Your Input Requested: A preview, Kind Of

Taken summer 1989, 3 months after high school graduation.

What follows is an except for the start of my memoir. It's not really *my* memoir, is that of Paul Gilles, 1971-1992. I would so greatly appreciate your input on this format. We are moving through time, from the 1990's through present day. Does that work? Would you read on? Let me know. And I am so grateful for your honest feedback.

12/18/90 Random Dream

A couple nights ago I had a strange dream. The setting was an old farm or some type of rural building. I was there with an older man, possibly the owner. He was somehow shot and killed and I was shocked by his death. However, this wasn’t the main part of the dream, as that happened quickly at the beginning.

The burial was the appalling part of the dream. His body, no casket or coffin, was lowered by two ropes into a grave which was filled with water. He was bloated and white, but once under the water he took on a greenish cast. They took the ropes out from under him, causing his body to roll in the water. A dirty glass was placed over him and planks were nailed over the glass, spaced apart so you could still see his body. His body floated up to the glass, pressed against it in a desperate way as if trying to escape. Then I woke up.

Good beginning to a diary, isn’t it?

Hindsight: A Little Background

Here’s where you’re dropping in: It’s 1990. I am 19 years old, living in St. Cloud, Minnesota, during my sophomore year of college. My parents moved around a lot when I was younger, but when I was in the 6th grade we moved to Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, a place I will call my hometown the rest of my life. Since my family expected my sister and I to go to a four-year college, I made plans to go to college somewhere as far away as home as possible without being too expensive. Far enough that it was a pain-in-the-ass to drive, 9 hours one way, but not so far that you needed to buy a plane ticket because we didn’t have the money for that. It was also a state school in Minnesota that had reciprocity with Wisconsin. I couldn’t go to an in-state college for cheaper. And, since my parents divorced when I was in high school, I figured the cheaper the better, because I would end up footing this bill. Eventually.

The divorce, my childhood, my being in a different school every year from 3rd through 6th grades, is a different story. Back to the story at hand.

My high school years were spent in a small town in a small school. Which means that I never dated anyone from my high school. My romances were always summer romances, discovered on the shores of Lake Michigan with boys from Sheboygan North or South, two high schools from the larger city nearby. We often met at the beginning of summer and broke up once school started. I was far too busy for romance during the school year. Plus, I didn’t want the drama of ever having dated anyone from my own school and the awkwardness that happens after you date and break up, so I never dated anyone in my school. Okay, once. But…he was the exception. Regardless, I spent my high school years in happy geekhood, spending time in the band room practicing my saxophone, or in the theatre, or as a part of the speech team, the ultimate geekiness in high school. I couldn't care less, I loved high school. 

Paul and I probably met in middle school band, I honestly don’t remember when. He played trumpet, I played saxophone. I remember him during our band trip to Florida my junior year. He was quirky, quiet, and made me laugh a lot. After that we probably talked a little during band practice, and he was in my advanced math class and helped me a lot because math wasn’t my thing, but otherwise we didn’t talk outside of school. I knew absolutely nothing about his family, his background, his growing up, except for who he was at the time.

Until. Until.

A week before our high school graduation our yearbooks were delivered, and the senior class had a party at the local park to sign each other’s yearbooks and share memories. I wanted to have him sign my yearbook so I approached him while he sat among his friends, all lean, muscular boys who were on the cross-country team with him. He wrote something like, “We should go to ‘Dead Poet’s Society’ together this summer,” or something like that. I took that as an invitation, and about a week after graduation I called him and asked when we should go see the movie. We set a date and that was the beginning.

That summer, we did everything together. We went to movies, we hung out in the ways that only teens can hang out, doing nothing but everything at the same time. We laughed together. Hard. We watched “Monty Python” episodes and movies, something he was trying to introduce me to but I really wasn’t getting the humor. We went to a Brewers baseball game in Milwaukee with a group of friends, who having not seen us since graduation, saw us together and said, “Wait, are you two together?!”

By fall we were madly in love. And I was bound for St. Cloud, Minnesota, 9 hours away, and he was bound for Sheboygan Technical College 10 minutes away from our hometown, which was cheap and saved him money on room and board.


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