We went to Europe in the summer, right after my 10th grade year of high school.
I took 11th grade in Europe, and when that term let out I had to return to the States for summer school so I could graduate on time with my friends. To do this, I left Europe early, flew home and spent the summer by myself in our house. My mother and my sister continued to travel throughout Europe without me.
I had gotten contact lenses in Europe. When I got back to the States, I was told that a certain clique of girls decided that they liked me, because now I was cute. It was the first time I had ever been faced with the shallowness of some of the people I was growing up with. The very idea kind of blew me away. They liked me now. Jesus.
I had to take a bus across town to do the summer school thing since I didn’t have a car or a driver’s license. I wasn’t the only one having to take summer school to catch up, but I was the only one for whom it was not a disciplinary thing. So now I was with the bad crowd on a daily basis. This crowd smoked. Now, this was North Carolina in the 70’s. Most of the adults I knew smoked. So when my friend K.M. offered me my first cigarette and I took my first drag on it, I swooned. I couldn’t believe how it made me feel—it got me high. (Malcolm Gladwell has some things to say about that in The Tipping Point. He described how there was a certain portion of smokers who could never quit and these were the people who got high the first time from it. I can tell you that was true for me and even now, I must have my nicotine. I chew Nicorette now.)
That wasn’t the only thing I was turned-on to that summer. Some of my childhood friends were getting high and tripping. I fell right into it. This was the 70’s! We were hippie wanna-be’s. Pot, acid, speed, mushrooms—we did it all. And beer. Especially beer.
I fell for a cute boy that summer—M.S. He had long dark hair, pouty lips and was poor and from a broken home. He lived with his grandmother on a little farm inside the city limits. He had dated my friend C. H. and I thought he was amazing. He was the first person who got me high on pot. I began acting like him and could mimic how he used his arms when he spoke. I could “do” him. I became obsessed with him in the short amount of time we hung out. Eventually I “lost my virginity” to him. It was horrible. I don’t think he actually got it up. But we fumbled around on a couch and had to make sure his grandmother didn’t walk in on us. And I claimed that as my “losing my virginity” story. Sheesh.
My senior year was a trip. I will always believe some writer from the Simpsons knows someone from my high school and modeled Otto after our bus driver. Our bus driver was in his early twenties, had long dark hair, smoked pot and was actually dating one of my friends. There was one time when we got to school, decided it was a nice day, got back on the bus and went skinny dipping. I swear to god this happened.
I partied my way through senior year. K.M. and I would often drink beer during lunch. I remember being asked by the the Vice Principal, Ms. B. whether I was high (from smoking pot.) I could truthfully say no, because we’d been drinking.
Before I went to college I had a gynecological exam and discovered someone had given me VD warts, caused by Human Papilloma Virus. I always thought it was M.S. who gave them to me, but after I remembered my rape forty years later I realized it could have been P.H. It was the only STD I ever had. The warts had to be burned off and it was excruciating. Many visits were involved. The doctor’s office made me give them/demanded a list of all my sexual partners so they could be notified about the STD. I’m pretty sure there was only one guy on that list, but it was embarrassing nonetheless. I don’t think they do that these days.