I received an invitation to my 45th class reunion at Monrovia, California, several weeks ago. My life in Monrovia (and school life therein) had been blacked out for most of my adult life.
In 2010, for reasons I do not understand (or do not recall), perhaps on a whim, I googled my name together with the school’s name, Monrovia High School, and discovered I was on a roster of dead alumni, class of 1969. It really seemed (in a bizarre sense) apropos, I had a belly laugh and it still brings a smile to my face.
I dutifully sent an email to the owner of the website and notified her this ‘stray cat’ was still alive:
“I googled my name and Monrovia and came up with a linked page at your website ‘stray cats’ and ‘in memoriam’ and thought to mention I am not dead (yet)
“This is many incarnations in this life later-
“I’m not certain I remember you but saw some familiar names among the ‘missing’ (and perhaps I should remain missing) but if you are aware of anyone from that eon ago who’d particularly expressed an interest in my fate.. well.. now you have my email”
Subsequently, I was informed I’d been raised from the dead, and so presumed I’d been re-listed in the category of ‘stray cats.’ I just went to the site again and discovered I’d actually vanished, removed from the dead but not listed with the missing or living. No one had seemed particularly inclined to inquire after my fate in the meanwhile, until my invitation to the 45th reunion a few weeks ago…
Related to this, I recall an event, it was in 1973, when I’d briefly worked a security job at a retail outlet in Pasadena, whilst attending college in Azusa. I’d seen a woman staring at myself as though I were a ghost. I knew her from my high school days and walked over to say hello. Her shock had stemmed from hearing I’d been killed in Vietnam. I did have a couple of close calls in the war but never received life threatening injury, let alone meet my demise. But it was like putting a wax seal on some now ancient record, as I was about to put my Southern California days behind me and indeed I left knowing most of those apparitions of my split childhood on the one side, would move on in this life believing I was dead. And I subsequently mostly forgot about (or blacked out) Monrovia and Monrovia High School until I’d turned up on the ‘in memoriam’ list for dead class alumni.
Now, for the sake (no longer forsaken) of those surviving ghosts of a life I’d deliberately put behind me, here are my ensuing years:
Army & College
1969 – 1973 (4 years) f’n everywhere
Infantry training, aviation school, Vietnam April 1970 -November 1971, Army Reserve & college (GI BILL), Jesus Commune (Tucson Arizona), working sawmills in the Pacific Northwest, war games at Fort Hood, i.e. several years of FUBAR (for those who know the expression)
NCOIC Intelligence & Operations, Detachment 1, Company C, 5th SF Bn
19th Special Forces Group
1974 – 1975 (1 year) Kalispell, Montana
Assessment, design and implementation of training operations to penetrate, ambush & assassinate and/or sabotage targeted installations, personnel, equipment and munitions et cetera
U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery School (Distinguished Graduate)
1975 -1976 (1 year)
Following retraining in surface to air missiles (Advanced Hawk System) and regular army assignment to Germany, I came down with Silk Road Disease and my military days were over.
‘Up The Line’
1976 – 1978 (2 years) Kalispell to Browning, Montana
Drunk and/or stoned
Remedial reading teacher
Project for Alternative Learning
1979 – 1980 (1 year) Helena, Montana
Taught remedial reading to gifted but learning disabled high school kids
Survivalist at self
1981 – 1988 (7 years) Greater Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex and surrounding area, Montana
Foraging, horseback riding, hiking, hunting, fishing, playing Stick Game, living on the pow-wow road, wintering with Blackfeet Indians, et cetera. During this period I’d retrained myself as a paralegal and volunteered (free) services to Blackfoot Indians dealing with government bureaucracy.
1989 – 1999 (10 years) West Glacier, Montana
Investigator for Mueller Law’s Montana cases. Freaking out corrupt corporate personalities, busting criminal rings working the inside of government, protecting sacred Blackfeet lands by winning a case against all odds (CHEVRON put its tail between its legs and backed off, not often you’ll see that)
Stay at home Dad
2000 – 2006 (6 years) Sandia Park, New Mexico
Being a best friend to my kid, coaching AYSO soccer, designing home school program, raising a kid who can ACTUALLY READ, and all of the mundane attending tasks, doctor appointments, cooking, you know the score, all the while free lancing investigations into the power corrupt of the USA’s military-industrial complex and making enemies resulting in circumstance you’d typically only see in spy novels and movies-
July 2007 – Present (6 years 10 months) at large
Life in exile on account of my former anti-corruption work. My position allows for writing when I like, sleeping when I can, and deciding if, when, and what work I might be interested in, that is when not engaging multiple intelligence agencies devoted to my literal extinction-
To my former classmates, a short explanation is in order. My sometimes life in Monrovia was, quite honestly put, more than a drag. Having been a product of a split custody arrangement (examples given, my missing freshman year, and absent summers) with a Monrovia home life best described as growing up an abused lawn ornament when contrasted to taste of ultimate freedom with my part time life in Montana … with horse, rifle and wide open space. It was a no contest, contrast.
Basically, I could never fit anywhere at Monrovia. I did not make life long friends and in fact was by high school age allergic to close or emotional relationships. So I ran with the misfits (where I was a misfit.)
There are people I recall somewhat fondly from Monrovia, oddly (or perhaps not) these are mostly on the very ‘in memoriam’ list I’d managed to survive to see my removal from, some 40 years after the fact. How it was I had been reported dead is a mystery to me, but looking back at how many times I likely should have been dead (career/lifestyle) I cannot but wonder if it were cosmic forces wished me dead and I’d managed to defy this for sheer ingenuous stubborn streak.
In closing I will observe, although I do not regret crossing Mr Strube on multiple occasions, nor the fact I’d managed somehow to successfully cut class for what seems like half of my sophomore and junior years, the one act I do regret is setting off a cherry bomb, canceling e-flag (I wanted to try it once and enjoy the 3 days suspension.)
Insofar as my senior year, I sat on the ‘senior wall’ once, it didn’t feel like a fit. Then I walked out into the lawn by the wall (reserved to upper class) and sat down, lit and smoked a cigarette in full view of the administrative offices as an act of defiance (none noticed) and returned to the illegal off-campus haunts of the social rejects, bad kids and generally alienated. I turned in my books at the attendance office on a Friday in February, 1969, as by the following Monday I would 18 years old, keeping a promise I’d made to myself in 3rd grade.
Nevertheless, there are a few persons I notice are yet alive, I will spare them the embarrassment of mentioning any names, to whom I send fond greetings from far, far away (in both space and time)
Greetings to the class of 1969