Prisoner of The Freeway
“Wondering if where I been is worth the things I been through....” James Taylor
I am sixteen years old, on the road to my own portable Hell. I got so angry with my father, I left after he let-into me, for forgetting to lock the stupid bathroom door! His
screaming with that much disgust (me with my pants down) made me feel disgusted
with him. Me a whore? I ran upstairs and threw my clothes into a paper bag and split.
Walked a mile out to the highway and stuck out my thumb. The bag ripped and my
clothes went flying across the highway. Goodbye, identity! I’ve stood at that ramp in
Hartford for up to three hours before. When people did stop I’d size them up before
I’d get in any car. Single men in beat up cars had stopped, but I could usually just tell
when it was not right to get in. Sometimes it was the beer cans, whisky bottles or
trash.... Other times it was the roughness—voices or faces—sometimes it was a
glazed look. I’d say, “Never mind, go ahead.” They’d go through changes. “Are you
"Yup. Go ahead.” But today I screwed up. Maybe it was because of the heat
or my anger or fatigue. Or maybe Dad did make me feel that worthless that I’d ride
with anyone…. When the white pickup pulled over to the curb, I just got in. The guy
didn’t say much. Suited me. I leaned back and closed my eyes. A few minutes later
when I open them I notice we’re getting off the highway. And he revs up fast, turning
down a side road. Trying to sound calm, I ask where he’s going. Says, “Do you like
art? I thought we’d make a stop for a while in the woods. I’m going to take some
pictures.” Then grimaces at me, all sly. Then this glare that stops me from speaking.
I squeeze out a kind of defiant, “What are you talking about?” tight, controlled voice. ”
You like nature? I’m going to photograph you; real natural.” I freeze. He drives. But,
trapped there, I find that all I can do is just notice him, as if to find an entry into the
part of him that is humane. I see he enjoys this... smiles, says, “You scared? You
don’t have to be scared. I tell you what. You do everything nice; exactly like I want it
and maybe you don’t get hurt. O.K?” I’m, like, emotionally anesthetized by it all. I’m a
chess piece, a prop in a sport of terrorism—he wants the power rush; to see my
reaction, gloat as he sees me squirm there. But that makes me feel the same anger
that led to running from Dad. I refuse to give him that satisfaction, even if he “does
me”, he won’t get to enjoy that scent of fear, the thing he preys upon. Suddenly, it’s
like I can see into him. What I see is that I am not real to him, which makes what he’s
saying sound hollow to me, as if he’s rehearsing a script or reciting something he saw
on TV; trying it on for fit. This is clearly his game, not mine. Then something happens:
I feel like I’m in a trance I’m getting so calm, some control even, and the amazing
thing is that this feeling (all I can think of is, “Grace”) is totally dissolving any fear in
me. I know that if I’m going to get fucked, I’d rather get it nicely, and not with a knife
at my throat. And there’s something else I feel in this state of mind: a part of me is
actually feeling really bad for him. I can sense how incredibly bored he is, numb, so
miserable. “Neglected” and “lonely” don’t even come close.
All at once, I just know what I have to do: I move closer to him. I reach, real gradually,
and extend my arm around him. And I am not even myself, but more like someone
sleepwalking: I’m speaking softly, soothingly, and the words are just passing through
my mouth. “Look, I know you feel lonely. But you don’t have to scare me to get what
you want. If what you want is someone to give you love, I can do that.”
The guy turns red. He slams on the breaks. He reaches over me and pushes open
the door. In tears, he starts screaming, “Get out, GET OUT!” He pushes me. “Get the
fuck OUT of here!” And by the time he slams closed the door after me, he’s actually
sobbing. I’m back on the road as he tears away. I hear twittering in the trees. I keep
saying, “Thank you,” as I straighten my clothing, breathe in the spring breezes and
think to myself how good it is to be alone with Nature.
Part Two: All That False Instruction
First boy I loved time has come I must sing you this sad Goodbye song... When we were
seventeen I used to know you. Well, I want you to know we just had to go ... I want you to
know we just had to grow….You know I would think of you, in the sick sad morning, making
love to people that I didn’t even like to see…. Incredible String Band
Circa 68/69 I became friendly with a classmate, Susan, who told me adoringly of her
brother Jonathan, who was away at Wesleyan University. I became obsessed and
repeatedly asked her when he was coming home. I counted the days. I didn’t know
why. Other girls had older brothers and I wasn’t hung up on meeting them. Finally
he came home for a visit and Susan obliged me and invited me over.
Jonathan turned me on for the first time with hashish and we sat on a two-person
wooden swing in his back yard, gaping at each other. “I can’t believe I’ve found you,”
he emoted, and flattered, “Where did you COME from?! You’re in High school?
They sure didn’t make them like you when I was in high-school!” There were only
two years difference between us. But he wasn’t a virgin and I still was and that set us
ages apart. I ran as fast as I could away from concerns of my family and school,
toward what I perceived as the light and positive energy, to my first true love,
Jonathan, and his dynamic college friends who treated me with affectionate
In his bedroom while his liberal parents were right downstairs, Jonathan gently
initiated me to the wonders of love. When he discovered blood on his sheets after the
first time we did “It,” he was ecstatic at having performed the sacred honors. “My
God, A VIRGIN!” he exclaimed not believing his great fortune. Then he became
appropriately somber, as he realized his responsibility as an older man to protect me
from the world and teach me everything. I was his vulnerable young gift from God.
He began to frequently pull me into the bathroom with him, begging as he undid his
pants, “ I’m so tense, “ he’d say. “Could you just this time, please, it would help me
so much, my parents make me so uptight... I hope it wouldn’t make you
uncomfortable...” . The floor was hard on my knees but I would listen pityingly and
eventually demure believing that it was my duty as an initiate and a woman to
comfort Jonathan. I would give him a wan smile and wonder if Florence Nightingale
gave blow jobs.
“What will your parents think we’re doing?” I would ask nervously, kneeling down as I
heard them arguing in the kitchen.
“They don’t care. It’s cool.” he’d reassure, impatiently grabbing my head.
His father worked during the week in D.C. for the Johnson administration and it was
common knowledge that he had a mistress there. We could hear his parents arguing
The next day Jonathan would be tense again and promise me this was the last time. I
loved him regardless. I would have gone knowingly to Hell with him, just to be near
his intense friends and to hear his heart-breaking cello playing. Six or eight of us
would get stoned and would inevitably be riveted toward Jonathan’s every word and
movement as he told a funny story or closed his eyes to us and the world and
stroked his bow tenderly, trembling, across the womanly body of his cello, biting his
lips or sucking on his mustache to keep from falling to pieces in agony or ecstasy as
he played. My father sighed disparagingly to my mother. “That Jonathan....” was
trouble. There was too much electricity.
“What would Jonathan do to me?” I demanded of my mother, thinking them ludicrous
They sensed danger about him and I welcomed it.
After the infatuation began to wear off, Jonathan began to detect my imperfections,
my insecure and somewhat depressed personality started to worry him. He began
withdrawing and I became more and more worried about what it was I continued to
do wrong. He had a law that he had to always stay high and I was breaking it.
“Seeing you brings me down,” he declared one day. I stood in Jonathan’s bedroom
doorway for the last time and was so desperate and depressed that I would have
offered anything to him if I thought it would make him change his mind.
I trudged home and locked myself in my room and played Bob Dylan over and over
singing “You just want to be on the side that’s winning.”
Brotherhood of The Spirit
WW Three/ Dream
I dreamed I was watching a black and white movie entitled “This is Your Life.”
I saw myself, walking to work at the Bess Eaton donut shop, where I worked my first
job. It was an eerie, morbid day, some time in the future. The sky was looming
heavy, grey and ominous.
Sluggishly, I trudged to work; nothing mattered.
An uneasy, oppressive apprehension. I looked up at the sky and stopped. Jet
bombers. I felt paralyzed “Why do anything? Run to what?”
I wished I were dreaming. Bombs began falling but I just I stood there.
A rumbling behind me. I turned. I saw a crowd marching right through the debris from
the bombs, which were falling all around them. Everyone in this parade looked alert,
somber, determined, and were completely unaffected. There were hundreds of
people, unscathed, protected by some invisible shield. A narrator in the dream,
explained that it was a “negativity storm,” and that an “electro-magnetic field”
Someone at the head of the group transfixed me with a purposeful look. “Come on,
you fool!” he said telepathically.
I just stood there, unable to think or move.
I awoke with a pounding heart and sat up. My bedroom was blazing with a gold light.
Very moved by my extraordinary dream, I the realization hit me viscerally that there
was nothing more powerful than a unified group of people. Their collected intense
focus and energy had defied even technology.
I thought of the Brotherhood of the Spirit.
The next morning when I went to high school, a poster that someone had plastered
up the night before on the front door donned the face of the very man in my dream
who had said “Come on, you fool!” Above his head were the words, “Spirit in Flesh”
and below his photo was written, “Positive Energy.”
I had come to the conclusion, weeks before, that I was a spirit, residing temporarily in
flesh and that the only thing that was hindering me from being my real self was the
negative energies of the congested and frantic suburb in which I lived.
This had come to me one night when I had been sitting in the kitchen of my parent’s
house and I’d heard a car sputtering and coughing outside. Because I was stoned,
I’d analyzed the sound and vibrations I felt from the car, and came up with the term,
“negative energy”. I realized with the sudden euphoria that comes with being in an
altered state, that what I needed was positive energy. It was as if I had just climbed
off of an elephant that I’d been living on all of my life and only now could I see what I
was sitting on- Elephant! Negative energy!
Lost in stoned-out thoughts, I continued to analyze what I felt. Electricity was flowing
through the body. I came to the conclusion that I was a spirit living temporarily in
Seeing the words “Spirit in Flesh” and “Positive energy”, coupled with the man’s face
from my dream was all the proof I needed. I was sure that God was telling me to go
there but I had no car and knew no one who would bring me.
All That False Instruction
“ It was all so very painless when you ran out to receive all that false instruction that we never
could believe...but I want you to know that while we watched you discover no one would be
true... I myself was among the ones who thought it was just a childish thing to do....” from
“Tears of Rage” by The Band [Words by Bob Dylan, music by Richard Manuel]
In that sweet and crazy Spring of 1969, when an acid undertow pulled so many kids
out of the suburban woodwork to seek refuge in gatherings and communes, my twin,
Cindy, and I were sixteen years old. My older sister, Jackie, dropped out of Brandeis
to flip out on drugs and join a commune in Warwick. I began dreaming and hearing
about that place, although I was as oblivious to Jackie’s exact whereabouts as I was
to all things outside of my immediate mission at my boyfriend Jonathan’s house.
After he broke up with me, my focus shifted from the goodies Jonathan had offered to
following Jackie’s lead in escaping academia and sanity: In a state of chemical-
enlightenment, I deciphered that humans were “Spirits in Flesh.”
When the next day I’d climbed the steps of my High School and discovered those
same words written on a poster that had been cemented to the front doors, an
electric storm went off in my brain. After repeating with disbelief the words, “Spirits in
Flesh,” I vowed to do whatever it took to find a way out of the maze in which the state
of Connecticut and the state of my mind had been miserably entwined.
“Screw going to Goddard. Come to think of it, screw everything!” I said.
The first step was to put the screws where they really belonged: my parents. Since
they had imposed a thirty-mile-driving-radius rule on their station wagon, I seized it
when they were away one day.
I’d heard that the commune was on Shephardson Road in Warwick but neglected to
find out the state. After about an hour and a half of driving through Rhode Island, I
found Warwick, but no Shephardson Road.
“You must mean Shepard Road,” a station attendant said, directing me to a working-
class neighborhood where there was absolutely no sign of a commune.
At a convenience store, I consoled myself with pretzels and orange juice for the long
ride home, then turned the ignition, but nothing happened. I tried again and, when
jumper cables failed, I wondered if my parents had magical, punishing powers.
How was I going to tell them? All my life, Mom had dealt with my frequent
emergencies and with what she felt were my bottomless needs: “You want what you
want what you want!”
I trudged over to the pay phone, reciting my grandfather’s maxim, “The truth is the
“Hi, Mom...I’m in Rhode Island.”
“Are-you-all-right?” she exhaled.
“Well, I’m not bleeding or anything! Look, don’t say anything. I know it’s too far ... I
mean, I didn’t know at the time.... it was just a little further...and then it turned out to
be further... No. I can’t come right home ... there’s a little problem.... Look, I’ll never
drive again, OK?”
When my father, Lennie, climbed out of the black 1966 Ford station wagon a few
hours later, he looked calm and well in command of the situation. Normally he would
have turned red, trembled and removed his eyeglasses to rub my pathetic image
from his eyes. Now all he said was, “Let’s go.”
This unexplained behavior made me feel more bewildered than ever and for a
moment an equally uncharacteristic wave of love swept through me towards him. Yet
I couldn’t apologize. My crimes and those of my parents were too mingled—and
besides, I’d never learned to say, “I’m sorry.” Ashamed and angry at myself as much
as with them, I climbed silently into the familiar old car and shattered quietly like
breaking glass in a silent movie.
What I didn’t know at the time was that my father, Lennie, was undergoing his own
Dad’s Satori and Demise
Something inside that was always denied for so many years…She’s leaving
home, bye, bye….The Beatles
JP/Jackie crashing home
Jackie dropped out of Brandeis University and was now living at the Brotherhood.
She returned home on a short visit with a couple of fellows from the commune. She
had a strange air about her, which I couldn’t read.
A heavy, bearded fellow followed her in through the kitchen door, bumbling in to my
home and my life. He had long dark hair, tied back in a pony-tail, glasses, and
seemed like a cross between a Jewish lawyer and a hippy. He quietly, but not
without importance, informed me that he was J.P., the community’s finance manager,
and quickly interjected that he was starved. I told him he could have anything he
wanted, and to feel free to look for himself. I had a fetish for looking in my friends
and relative’s refrigerators. Sometimes I’d open the fridge just to see what was in
them, even if I wasn’t hungry.
J.P rummaged through the cupboards and removed much of the contents of the
fridge, leaving a mess behind him. Then this reckless, fuzzy creature proceeded to
wander through the house restlessly.
I felt invaded, but I didn’t want to be uptight. So I went outside and sat on the front
steps to get it together. Watching birds pecking at the ground under the maple tree in
the yard, and inhaling the Spring air, I began to feel content.
The screen door swung open and J.P. plopped himself down next to me. “You’re not
I looked around. “Me?” I said stupidly.
“Yeah, you’re not happy,” he said and put his arm around me.
I didn’t know what I what I was supposed to do. Argue, put my head on his shoulder,
Turned off, I pulled away, but began considering. I had my guitar, harmonica, a few
friends and my drugs. I mumbled, “Yes, I am.”
“On the surface you might be, but underneath you aren’t.”
I felt tight and irritated. “How could he know more than I do about that?” I brooded.
Jackie came outside and asked me if I wanted to meditate with her. Gladly. She and
I settled down in the guest room in the basement while J.P. stayed upstairs. I closed
my eyes and soon saw an intense violet circle of light zooming in toward me. “Jackie,
I see this amazing circle of light,” I said, with my eyes closed.
“That’s your spirit.... How long can you ignore it?”
The circle disappeared as soon as her words hit me and I felt deflated. These
psychic police hurt me.
My father must have come home in the meantime, because soon he tentatively
rapped on the door. He wanted to know how we would like to all “sit down together to
have an intelligent exchange of ideas.”
Impressed with our first experiences in family therapy, he now believed in the power
of rational discussion.
The forum began: Jackie and J.P. talked at him. They proselytized, not in their own
voices, but in what seemed to be borrowed rhetoric. “The earth is going to turn on its
axis and three quarters of the earth’s population is going to die within our
lifetime....There is no death; only the body dies.... We’ve all been here
before....Eventually all people will be forced to look beyond the material illusion and
to see each other without conceptions but as spirits.” Jackie talked robotically,
mournfully, and monotonously, like a person reciting scripture, only to be interrupted
by my father, at the other end, throwing up his hands and saying, “You’re using that