Dreams of Escape was the title of my very first book of poetry, written in my early twenties and nearly forgotten until tonight when I found an old printed copy. The title is prophetically appropriate.
My entire life seems to have been a perpetual cycle (circle?) of escapes: from unpleasant experiences, bad situations, and - undoubtedly foremost - escape from myself.
Escape from oneself is, of course, an exercise in complete futility - - but I pursued it enthusiastically during my life-long course of discontent.
I don't want to get philosophical (mainly because I lack the qualifications). I'm merely thinking, remembering. Talking to myself.
You're merely an innocent eavesdropper.
I suppose my first great escape was when I left home and moved to Hollywood. I was nineteen - a late bloomer and greener than moldy cheese. I've previously written about this enough times for it to become trite and stale.
It happened after one of the worst (physical) blow-ups I had with my father. He won, hands down. Choked me into unconsciousness, knocked me through a plate glass door. It was weeks before I began to physically heal.
Before I left, I had planned to kill him. Got his revolver. Sneaked into his bedroom late one night (he was a very heavy sleeper). Stood there deciding whether or not to shoot him through the head. Weighed the pros and cons.
Decided to let the son-of-a-bitch live in his own misery.
The cold, seedy, dangerously anonymous streets of Hollywood are about as far from Tinseltown glamor as anyone can get. I quickly learned about survival - and about sex, drugs, booze, and hardcore realms of escape that I never previously thought were possible.
It was a long and delicious escape - mainly because I became someone other than my real self: mysterious, elusive, seductive, dangerously reckless, unconcerned with consequences.....
I'm only scratching the surface of an incredible journey into self-destruction.
And suddenly I'm thinking of all my other attempts of escape, which - filtered through the sobering distance of time - seem as futile as they are ridiculous.
Escape from the heartbreaking end of my first sexual relationship. It lasted only three months. I was nineteen. The...other person...was a decade older and infinitely more experienced. It wasn't love. It was intense infatuation. But I was completely heartbroken. Packed my gear and left California. Spent the entire summer on the east coast.
Escape from another relationship - where intense jealousy (and possessiveness) reared its ugly head.
This.....other person.....was intent on pursuing me - and had enough cash and clout to do it.
I escaped to Mexico. Baja. Eventually Ensenada. Lived on the beach for a few weeks. I drank Tequila and Modelo Chelada and dug my bare toes into uncharted sands.
en la playa de Ensenada
I already (long ago) wrote a blog post about my escape from marriage. Or perhaps escape from a wedding....
Clara was the sister of one of my best friends, Anton. Their father was well-known and they were an extremely wealthy and refined family.
I was twenty-four. Clara was near thirty but looked much younger. She had been educated in Switzerland and spoke five languages.
I frequented their home, gave private piano concerts and poetry readings there. Sailed on their yacht in Newport Beach. Rode in their Rolls Royce. The entire family adored me (hard to believe, but true) and wanted me to marry Clara.
Clara and I had dated casually. Went to many events in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. But I was extremely immature and hopelessly reckless. I definitely didn't want marriage (for more reasons than the one you think....). Serious relationships of any kind terrified me.
Clara and I
at an event in Beverly Hills
a very faded glimpse into my past life...
There's an enormous amount more to this story, but I'll cut it short by saying that Clara eventually married someone she didn't love on the rebound of losing me.
She begged me to attend their wedding,
"for moral support".
As usual, my initial reaction was to escape from the situation. I went on a serious drinking spree, borrowed a boat from a friend, and sailed to Catalina Island where I stayed for a week in blissful inebriation.
This blog post is getting too long and I've only mentioned a pitiful few of my many colorful escapes.
I still haven't told how I wound up living in poverty in a mountain shack in Tennessee.
If you aren't bored with this crap, I might (eventually) continue my adventures in escape.