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Station 7. Megan falls a second time

Wood carving by Susan Hagen, story by Mike Walsh

Megan thought her mother was totally uncool. They just couldn't get along. She was always trying to tell Megan what to do, and her mother seemed to hate everything about her-the music she listened to, the way she dressed, and the people she hung out with.

Her mother had once accused her of having sex with a young man. To retaliate Megan screamed, "Sex, Mom, sex! I love sex!" Her mother shrieked, clamped her hands over her ears, and ran out of the room. When Megan got a Mohawk haircut, her mother wouldn't be seen with her.

Megan's decision to quit high school was the last straw. Her mother constantly ragged her about the terrible mistake she was making. Living with her mother had become such a drag that Megan split.

She didn't have anywhere to go except downtown, where a lot of her friends lived in rundown apartments. Each night she slept on a different friend's couch, if one was available. If one wasn't, she slept on the floor. She had no place to store her possessions, so she had to lug two heavy duffel bags everywhere she went. After about a week, her clothing was dirty, she was low on money, and she was quite miserable. It was a totally lame situation. Being away from her mother, she was learning, was almost as bogus as being with her.

One night she went to a party and met a young man named Todd, who seemed like a really nice guy. Todd had a Mohawk haircut just like Megan's. They talked for a while and Megan explained her problems to him. The more she told him, the more upset she got. Soon she was crying on his shoulder.

Todd had run away from home just a few months earlier himself, so he seemed to know where she was coming from. He offered to let her crash at his place. He was renting a room in a boarding house, and she would have to sleep on the floor, but he would try to find her a mattress.

"That's cool," she said.

Megan soon found part-time work as a short-order cook. When she wasn't working, she hung out on Main Street with Todd and their friends. Todd was like a big brother to her. He gave her advice and watched out for her. They all wore ripped jeans, combat boots, and tied flannel shirts around their waists.

Megan hated the normal people. She knew they considered her and her friends to be freaks, but the so-called normal people were the ones destroying the world with greed, pollution, and wars. Their thinking was just completely screwed-up. Her mother, naturally, was one of them. As far as she was concerned, the straight people were the freaks and she and her friends were the only normal ones.

After living with Todd for about a month, Megan heard that the cops had been asking around about her on Main Street. Her mother must've reported her missing. Megan avoided Main Street from that moment. If the cops found her, she'd have to move back home.

At a party not long afterward, Megan met two young guys with long hair and scraggly beards who were fans of Grateful Dead's music. While the three of them shared a joint, she admitted that she had never heard of the Grateful Dead. She was into hardcore and thrash. The two guys said they knew where her head was at, but they didn't agree with the aggression in hardcore and thrash. They wanted her to experience the peaceful and soothing music of the Grateful Dead, so they offered to take her to a Dead concert when the band came through the area.

She went to the concert with them a few weeks later but couldn't see why everyone liked the Grateful Dead so much. They didn't sing very well, they played quietly and slowly, and the band was full of old hippies. The crowd was so laidback, she thought she was back in the '60s or something, even though she hadn't been born until the '70s. At first she was very bored, but someone gave her some mushrooms, and she danced by herself for the next two hours.

After the concert she met some Deadheads who were following the band around the country, camping along the way. They invited her to travel with them. She wouldn't need much money, they said, because she could earn whatever she needed selling tie-dyed tee-shirts, Guatemalan shorts, and Grateful Dead water pipes before and after each concert.

She laughed at the thought of traveling with a group of Big Chill/Woodstock, peace and love, long-haired, bead-wearing space cadets. After all, she was a punk rocker. But the offer was too good to refuse. It was the easiest way to get away from her mother. She knew the cops would eventually track her down if she didn't go.

During the next six weeks she had an insanely great time following the tour. In fact, by the end she didn't know if she was a punk or a Deadhead. She wore the clothing the Deadheads had given her, she didn't listened to hardcore or thrash anymore, she had braided and beaded her Mohawk, and she smoked pot almost every day. Her punk friends back home would think she had fallen on her head and gone wacko.

The tour ended in San Francisco. She decided to stay there, but she didn't have a place to live. Soon she was sleeping on the floor of a teen center in Haight-Ashbury. She spent most of her time looking for a job, but she couldn't find one. She was afraid of the guys in the teen center too. They were selling dope, and they were always coming on to her even though she'd made it clear she wasn't interested in them. She cried almost every day. It was a beat scene if there ever was one.

In December, Megan called her mother collect and asked if she could come home. Her mother sent her a plane ticket and met her at the airport with open arms. She gave Megan dozens of Christmas presents and spoiled her with whatever she wanted for the next several weeks. She also apologized to Megan and promised to try to get along. Megan was happy just to have warm meals, a bed, and a hot shower.

Within a few weeks she was back in high school. She wasn't much of a punker anymore, but she definitely wasn't a Deadhead either. Maybe she had actually fallen on her head, she thought, and gone wacko. Whatever she was, she knew she would never become one of the so-called normal people.

Stations: [Contents] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] [13] [14]

See more of Susan Hagen's artwork or Mike Walsh's writing on missionCREEP.

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