Summer of Love 2017

Digital drawing titled "Self Portrait."

“Self Portrait”
Digital art by Estela.

It’s the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love 1967.

Maybe I’ll get around to doing a Haight-Ashbury Tour before the summer’s out. Or get out there and take some pics. If I can get passed my agoraphobic panic. I want to do something in celebration of this SOL 50th anniversary. Mainly, to celebrate my life.

I was 17 in 1967, the historic year of the Summer of Love. All the hippie dippie stuff was going on here in San Francisco. (I lived in a small, innocuous town near Sacramento.) I heard about it through media–radio, tv, newspaper, magazines. But I didn’t pay much attention to it. I was in my sad, limited, world. Full of family drama, as dysfunctional families are. For me, 1967 was my Summer of Despair.

I got married in March. I turned 17 in April. My son was born in October. I didn’t officially drop out of high school, I just didn’t bother to go back for my senior year (1967-68). I didn’t want to be in this marriage. But I didn’t want to be back home in that mad house full of drama either. So, I stoically settled into my forever life (I assumed) as a housewife and mother. My son was an adorable little thing. I read Parent’s Magazine and Dr. Spock. I wanted to be a good mother.

Long story short, I couldn’t create an idyllic life. And things only got worse as the years went by. By the time I got divorced, thirteen years later, I was a psychological mess. But I got myself into college and into therapy.

Life is what it is, you are who you are. All you can do is your best. The beat goes on.

Lately, I’m focusing on my agoraphobia. I don’t know if it’s clinically agoraphobia, but I am labeling it that. I’ve never addressed it in therapy. There was too much else to deal with. But I have the space now to look at this, research, and if I have to, I’ll look for a therapist. It’s anxiety for sure, but I don’t know if it’s agoraphobia, because I’ve read that agoraphobics avoid crowds. When I have to catch a bus, or walk somewhere, I feel safer where there are more people around, not less. It’s the isolated places that scare me. In a crowded space, if I were attacked, there would at least be witnesses, if not someone to help. That’s my reasoning.

But I do have this fear of going out the door. I’ve had this “forever.” I don’t want to go out there.

The last few years, I smudge first, and I carry or wear a fetish. It doesn’t get me out the door, but it helps me feel better (stronger, more courageous) once I get out there.

The monthly poetry reading I attend is just a few blocks away, a few minutes’ walk. I am conscious of the fact that it’s an important part of my life, of who and what I am. And I really want to share my work. If I don’t do this, I cheat myself. I’ve actually been pretty good at cheating myself, a good part of my life. I’ve woken to this realization. I try to be mindful of it. It helps me get out the door.

I like this particular poetry reading. It’s been going on for 4 years, at a book store. I’ve attended for 3. (I’ve missed a few, unable to get out the door). Recently, this guy who works at the book store said he thinks this poetry reading and open mic is “the CBGB’s of poetry readings” here in San Francisco. Yeah. Sure. Cool. I’d like to think so.

Pin with peace sign and the words, "San Francisco Focus" and Summer of Love 1967-1987."

Button commemorating “Summer of Love” 20th anniversary.

At the reading, a couple weeks ago, there was a young woman who sat in front of me. We talked during the break, and she said she was visiting from Brooklyn. She said she had learned that day about the poetry reading, so she dropped in to check it out. At the open mic, I read a poem called Nemesis. When I returned to my seat, the young, Brooklyn chick (looked fresh out of college, 20-something) turned around, all excited, amazed, really, I mean, really, amazement was on her face, her brow way up, her eyes open wide, and she says, “I really liked your poem!” I said, “Thank you. That means a lot to me.” And she repeated, “I really liked it!” That was a shot in the arm.

In 1967, I had no idea that twenty years later I would be a student at UC Berkeley, studying literature and taking creative writing courses. 1987 was the year Freddie Freeloader was in my life. He gave me a button he bought from a Telegraph Ave street vendor (in Berkeley). “Summer of Love 1967-1987.” I still have it. That’s actually when the Summer of Love entered my consciousness. I said, “Oh, that was in 1967!?” It was a significant year for me, but it had nothing to do with historical times. Heart shaped peace sign, outlined in green, spaces colored white, yellow, red, black on light blue background.

2017 is my Summer of Love. Sure as hell, got nothing to do with historical times. Seem to be the best of times and worst of times. The times are not tidy. Freedom is pretty much down the toilet. Paranoia abounds. But, as Blake wrote, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, and hell of heaven.” Or as (the late) Bill Cunningham said, “He who seeks beauty, will find it.”  ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥


About Poet Dressed In Black

Poet. Artist. Grammy of one, a granddaughter. Mom of three, son and two daughters, all grown. Individualist. Care-taker of Isabel, an agoraphobic, fear-aggressive, very nervous, delicate flower, Chihuahua mix.
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