Part 1 Skateboarding
In high school a new boy arrived at the Jersey Shore from California with a skateboard. Someone made them for all of us using old roller skates and plywood. We skateboarded downhill in forbidden cemeteries until dark. It was the 1960s. Skateboards were outlawed, not because they were dangerous but because they were unknown, not a part of the mainstream and somehow subversive. We hid them in car trunks and behind
old tires in the garage. None of us had standard-issue parents so we formed our own family. Our family stuck together, laughed a lot and listened to each other. The police chased us out of the graveyards, creating a deeper bond of secrecy and protection. We vowed to call each other, not our parents, if we ended up in the police station. Later on, one did, with a bale of marijuana. He didn’t call. He went to jail. Another drank too many beers, drove himself into a telephone pole and died.
Part 2 Abortion
I thought I should have an abortion. The boy I loved said I had to decide on my own. If I kept the baby we’d marry. If not, he’d never be able to see me again. How could a 20-year-old college student know that? He had more confidence than I, seemed less emotional, but had the same love for beer and the beach and rock & roll. She wasn’t hard to find, this illegal woman in Newark, NJ. When you reached a certain age in the ‘60s, everybody knew someone who knew someone. I drove alone.The three-story house had a small front porch. I climbed the wooden stairs, knocked on the rattling screen door. She answered and asked my name. Nothing came into my mind. Nothing came out of my mouth. She suggested I come back when I’m ready, but “don’t wait too long.” I drove to the boy and we started a family.
Part 3 Jesus
The poet pastor wandered around church saying hello to people with his Shrek voice, usually on his way to and from the courtyard. Sneaking cigarettes. I saw him frequently at the bar in a neighborhood restaurant. Sneaking scotch. As a former drinker and smoker myself, I had a familial attachment to him. When a spiritual crisis befell me, I found him outside, lurking among the Gothic arches of the colonnade. I told him I have something serious to discuss.
“Sure, how ‘bout this afternoon?”
Tears got in the way of explaining myself any further until later, in his office.
“I don’t believe in the Resurrection anymore,” I confessed.
“Huh? Most people don’t even think about this stuff, Rrregan,” he confessed.
“Do I have to believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus to be a Christian?” I asked.
“Well, it’s the main tenet of our faith,” I thought he exclaimed, but he probably just said.
“What should I do?” I asked.
“Wait it out!” He definitely exclaimed.
“You will always be in the church family no matter what you believe. Just. Wait. It. Out.”