Rune Rofke - Glenn Emery

Potholes on Memory Lane


The Fall of Man lecture has me rattled. It's making me think hard about all of my past relationships with women. Not just for the couple of days I stayed with Imoe before I came back to the Family on August 6, but my whole life. I think this may be one of the most difficult and important entries I've ever made. This is the unvarnished truth about what happened to me.

I have a completely different perspective now on the phrase "falling in love." I'm thinking right now of my relationships with Susan and Laurie when I was at the University of Vermont. That first semester I "fell" in love right away, within the first two weeks, with Susan, as she lived in the girls' apartment across the hall from us at the Living-Learning Center. Within a couple weeks I wished our relationship had never started. It was literal hell sleeping with her. She said she had a short vagina and couldn't take it all the way. Maybe she was a virgin, I don't know. It wasn't pleasant. That was bad enough, but she attached herself to me in a way that made me feel I was suffocating. I finally had to tell her I just didn't like her so well now that I was getting to know her. She said she felt I had a big wall around me and that she wanted to just reach in and pull me out. There was some truth in what she said, as fallen people all have walls around their hearts, but my casual experience with her made me retreat even further. It was like castration to be involved with her. It's difficult to explain, but that was what I felt she was slowing doing to me. So I withdrew totally.

At Boonville Kristina had talked about how sexual relationships are like crazy glue. It permanently bonds you to another person, and when you pull away, it tears the heart. That's what it felt like now with Susan.

Soon after breaking up with Susan I became preoccupied with death, more so than usual, things like the right to die, which is the argument for euthanasia; Socrates: "Death may be the greatest of all human blessings"; Carlos Castaneda's favorite graffiti in LA: "Death may be the best trip of all. That's why they save it for last." Stuff like that. I was getting into the Grateful Dead more than ever. Here I was studying to be a doctor to save lives and thinking only of dying. Not suicide. Just a fixation on death itself. I had a deep realization that death is the one thing all men have in common, and that everything we do in life is a distraction to take our minds off that one simple fact.

For me it hit home with the song "Time" from Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon": "And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run. You missed the starting gun. So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it's sinking, racing around to come up behind you again. The sun is the same in a relative way, but you're older. Shorter of breath and one day closer to death."

So I started running for my life, running blind with fear of dying. I began to do drugs for the first time. Though I had been smoking pot for a while, beginning the year between high school and college when I hitchhiked out to California, I was always afraid of drugs.

But now my fear of death overcame it and I tripped for the first time on Halloween night at UVM that first semester, on some blotter another Susan gave me. We had been over to see a guy speaking in the auditorium named Art Kleps, who was founder of the Neo-American Church, which I think advocates LSD to find God. The first thing he said was, "If anyone here is tripping you might want to leave now. Some of what I'm going to say is really heavy and you might freak out."

We thought that was hilarious and couldn't wait to see what he had to say. Whatever it was I spaced out and don't remember anything except he was showing an old black-and-white Errol Flynn movie on the wall behind him. The movie was running backward. At first it was hard to watch, but as I became more involved with the movie, for a few moments I even had a feeling that time itself was running backward. Art Kleps was boring, so we left. It was kind of a jolt to walk outside and not have everything moving in reverse.

We went over to the Halloween party in the Commons Building of LLC. By this time I was starting to get off on the acid and I spent the next hour or so laughing my ass off. My jaw started to ache from the constant smiling and laughing. Everything just seemed intensely hilarious. I remember Ruthie Gordon and two other girls from her suite came costumed as the Three Little Pigs. Another guy was wearing driving gloves, a driving hat, and holding a sign for I-89 he had taken from down on the highway. He said he was an interstate. Betty and Brett came wearing black leotards and makeup that when they stood together formed a spider web. It was really weird.

Later I spaced out in my room, looking in the mirror. Susan came in but I sent her away. I almost flunked out that semester. I even failed music appreciation. My calculus grade saved me. Fortunately I had taken the exact same course my senior year of high school, so it was a breeze. Everything else was dismal, and I hadn't even hit the hard "weed out" courses like organic chemistry. Already my grandiose plans of becoming a doctor and joining the Peace Corps were starting to fade, and I was only a freshman.

I started writing letters to Sally and to Leslie again. I was feeling nostalgic about Leslie and would spend a lot of time just looking at her picture. I saw her at Thanksgiving and we went out. It was cruel of me, because she was so sweet and I was only thinking of my own selfish desires.

Just before Christmas Laurie moved into the girls' apartment next door, and that relationship almost destroyed me, although it may have also done me some good somewhere. She was really into film, especially anything by Igmar Bergman and anything with Marlon Brando. We used to go see films around campus a couple nights a week. I really dug it. Anyway, we practically lived together and it was a totally selfish relationship on my part and before long I regretted having gotten involved. I really came to not want to have sex with her but feeling like it was something I had to do if I was normal. And for the first time I began to wonder if I was a homosexual or something, although that didn't seem to fit. But still I felt really bad about our relationship and I lost myself in dope and calculus and thinking about Leslie. But when I saw Leslie over one holiday, then I missed Laurie. Now I was really getting confused and tried to lose myself even more in my books.

I did really well that semester, but I couldn't wait to get out and away from school and Laurie. I kept thinking I was going to be with Leslie and it would be all right, at least for a while. All I wanted to do at this point was get stoned and listen to music and learn how to drive big rigs. I figured I'd just travel around the country driving trucks until I could get my head together.

That summer, 1974, I was free. My family was in Alaska and Leslie and I got together again. We both had jobs, me driving a 20-ton dump truck for Teal Construction in Dover and she was a lifeguard at the Quality Court Motel on Highway 13. She was so pretty and tanned, and she loved me I could tell. I loved being with her. Her parents hated me, but I didn't care.

I spent all my free time high on pot and spaced out in front of the stereo, playing harmonica, not caring about anything. Bill Seifert lived with me for a while at the beginning of the summer, but I kicked him out after a while because he was even lazier than me. He had a party and didn't clean it up, so I told him to split. Then I really did nothing except work, which was OK. At least I was physically busy.

Leslie would come over a lot and we got along really well. But I was beginning to feel guilty about my relationship with Laurie, and finally I told Leslie and she got up from the couch and walked out the door without saying a word. I could see I had really hurt her, and I felt miserable. I didn't see her for a few days.

Eventually we got back together, but it was never the same. Soon after I watched a buddy get killed on the job, run over flat by a dump truck. It could have been me. We were standing next to each other, joking and talking at quitting time, and we both had the same thought at the same time of hopping on the saddle tank of one of the trucks that was dumping a load of gravel, and then catch a ride to the top of the hill to our cars. I hesitated and he didn't. Just as he jumped the truck lurched forward to dump the rest of its load, and he ended up in the space between the fuel tank and the wheels. He fell down, and before he could get up, the tandem wheels were on his feet. He was pinned and knew he was going to die in another instant. It happened so fast neither of us could scream. He looked at me with sheer terror, and then it was like he just lay down. The giant wheels rolled over his body from feet to head, crunching him down into the stones. A moment later I was staring at his flat lifeless body embedded in two feet of pale gray gravel, thinking that's what I would have looked like if I had jumped. There wasn't even any blood. It was horrible and the driver, a big black guy called Babe, was bawling like a baby when he finally saw what all the commotion was about. I went home and kept playing the awful scene over and over in my mind. A couple days later I quit work and headed up to Vermont for a few weeks to see all my friends from the year before. I just wanted to forget about Leslie and Kyle's death and everything and go someplace and start over.

I stayed with Laurie and Brett, but it was obvious Laurie hated me. I couldn't blame her, considering the way I had used her. I read Hermann Hesse's "Steppenwolf" while I was there. It really made an impression, especially when I was up at Bolton Valley tripping on the mescaline. There was a line in a poem called "The Immortals" in the book -- "star translumined ice" -- that just fit my concept of the universe. I was really starting to space out, to say the least.

After about three weeks I decided I was going to go south for the winter to Atlanta and eventually out to San Francisco. I stayed at home for the holiday and left Dover on January 2. After I had been in Atlanta for about two months or so, I met Imoe. I started driving the tractor full time for Pack after he fired Shorty, the dwarf, for stealing diesel fuel. Shorty would go to the filling station down by the interstate, where Pack had a fuel account, and fill up the tanks, then go to the truck stop and sell it to some other trucker and pocket the cash. Shorty had a bunch of kids to feed, so I guess he felt he had to do it. Pack obviously disagreed.

I met Imoe the same day I started driving the tractor full time. Before then I only drove it when Shorty wasn't around. The rest of the time I ran parts for Don, who was the shop manager. After work each day, Greg, one of the mechanics, and I would smoke dope in his car outside the gate and then we'd drive home. Pack and Don would drive by while we were getting high. They knew what we were doing, but they didn't care. As long as it was after work and not on the property.

But on this day I went in a bit early because now I had to do Shorty's job. I was in my '66 VW microbus, with "Sandtown Elementary" still painted in white on the side, waiting at a light on Moreland Avenue. Imoe pulled up behind me in her orange 1971 VW with the pop-up camper. She was smiling as I looked at her in my rearview mirror. I thought it was odd, but I figured she was probably reacting to something she was hearing on the radio. Then she waved.

I thought about her the rest of the day. I left early again the next morning to see if I would run into her again or not and take that as a sign. I had this idea that everything was a sign, and that when I was in tune with the cosmos, all the traffic lights would be green for me. I wasn't in tune with the cosmos very often. But this day I guess I was because I saw her filling up at a gas station on Moreland. I pulled up next to her. She remembered me from the day before. She said her name was Imoe, but most people called her Candy. I got her phone number and address. She lived on Clifton Road in Candler Park, not too far from me. There was a laundromat on the corner of Clifton and McLendon where I did my laundry. So that night I went to the laundromat, put my clothes in a washer, and went up the street to her house.

We smoked some Colombian reefer and talked. She was really nice. A real earth mother type with a little boy. She was 27. We talked about San Francisco, which is where she had just moved from, leaving behind a husband who was an artist. I started hanging out at her house more and more and spending the night, and after a couple weeks she asked me to move in. I didn't think her half of the duplex was big enough for her and Jason, not to mention me, but she persuaded me to anyway.

She reminded me a little of my mom, which kind of freaked me out if I thought about it too much. After a while I got burned out on having sex with her, and it started to make me feel unstable about my sexual identity. I got a urinary tract infection. She also had a lot of gay friends that she was very close to and who would come around a lot and get high with us. One of them tried to kiss me one time when we went to a gay club. It really freaked me out and I pulled back. He apologized, but I could tell he wasn't sorry.

Imoe was a really good companion, but something was wrong and I began to withdraw more and more. She asked me if maybe I was a homosexual because I had lost interest in sex with her. The question startled me and made me really uncomfortable, but I knew I wasn't. I didn't have any desire to be with men. On the other hand, I was really confused about my feelings for her and why I could be with someone I really liked and suddenly not want to be with them anymore for no reason. It didn't make sense and I couldn't figure out what was going on in my head. I had no standard of truth to guide me.

Soon after I moved in with Imoe, two of Imoe's friends from Hawaii moved back to Atlanta and crashed with us for a few weeks. So now I had to adjust to really close living quarters, even though Imoe and I had a bedroom in the back. Susan and Robert and their little girl Anatai stayed in the living room. Most of the time they never wore any clothes. At first it was kind of shocking, but gradually I got used to it. They were like Adam and Eve, naked and unashamed. I envied their innocence. It was actually very pleasant while they stayed with us. They were into batik and macrame and were planning on selling their creations at crafts fairs to make a living. It seemed like a good plan and Imoe and I began talking about maybe doing the same thing, even though I knew nothing about either batik or macrame.

Inside I was slowly going crazy. We got into tarot cards. My relationship with Jason was no good. I spanked him a lot for no reason, and this just added to my inner turmoil. Then Rick and his girlfriend Chris moved into the duplex next door. They were both beautiful young hippies and I enjoyed getting high with them. But by May Imoe started talking about going west to Flagstaff, where her friend Vicki lived on a commune. At first I didn't want to leave. We had just seen Pink Floyd play "Dark Side of the Moon" at Fulton County Stadium, and the Grateful Dead were coming to town soon and I didn't want to miss them. But she said it would always be one more show, so we had to go now or not at all. So I gave in.

I was so confused about who I was that I was ready for anything. I sold my VW and my trumpet, which I had had since sixth grade, and then I did something really stupid. I used $300 of the money to buy a flute. I didn't even know how to play. I thought I'd learn when we settled on a commune. I also spent a lot on a really nice Gerber hunting knife, which I also rationalized we would need. Imoe was not pleased that I was so impulsive, but she let it go.

The day before we left there was a heavy thundershower in Atlanta followed by a double rainbow. I took it to be a good omen. Even the tarot deck said that travel would definitely benefit me. We drove her camper from state park to state park, slowing moving west a few hundred miles at a time. It was nice and peaceful, practically idyllic. In Flagstaff we met up with Jerry and Joel, and together we traveled to the Grand Canyon to drop acid.

That's where I started keeping this journal. We had been on the road for two months, and at the Grand Canyon, the big split in the Earth, I left Imoe for Karola. Imoe never complained or said a harsh word to me. She just insisted I be straight with her. I told her I wanted to be Karola. She said she understood.

Then she took Jason and went to San Francisco. 

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