Sunday, February 25, 2007

Reminiscence

I've come a long way in (nearly) 50 years! Visiting BendingPeak's blog brought back some memories of the past - my time in Atkinson Morley Psychiatric Unit where I worked as a nurse. I went hunting for some writing I did then and found this piece about a time even further back, from when I lived in the USA when I was 17 years old, circa 1974.

top picture is me holding my Norwegian Elkhound puppy, Ianto - and a young friend Amy - where is she now I wonder?

bottom picture is a headless me ?dancing around the sitting room in the house in Burlington, Wisconsin, USA.

"Chris saw them coming through the window, and with unaccustomed agility, darted downstairs and disguised himself as a pile of dirty laundry. "Ah, shit, it's the pigs. Look - I'm not here, you don't know me and..." The door to the basement had slammed and the muffled message hung in the air. I answered the door with a confidence born of the fact that I knew the two policemen hadn't come to take ME away. In fact they HAD come to take me away.

They looked mildly embarrassed as they took in the 17 year old, flat chested, skinny, psychedelic furry freak that I was: "You Teresa Evans?".

"Eh, yep" I nodded and stood on the doorstep glumly holding on to the mesh screen door as support, more than to keep it from swinging shut.

"Ugh, we have instructions to take you to the Juvenile Detention Centre, you gotta come with us"... one of the two waved an official looking typed sheet of paper in my face.

I chose not to argue, even question the summons but went along with them with the same resigned acceptance that characterised the rest of my life. I felt outside, a mere passive observer of queer goingson.

"Mind if I fetch a book?", I slid away before they answered.

One of the two - the squatter spotty one - looked suspicious, but the taller, clean shaven guy waved at me as an OK.

I envisaged long periods sat in waiting rooms like at the dentist's and a good escapist novel seemed the thing. Never mind clothes, clean underwear - how long? who knew?

I was accompanied by the two armed policement to their squad car, feeling red, hot, shy and self-conscious. I feigned an air of unconcern, but I was scared shitless, floundering in unknown waters.


In the squad car, they argued, like the archetypal good cop/bad cop. The suspicious guy thought I might make a run for it at the very least, or at worst run amok with an axe (that's what these pot smokers do, right?). The other guy shrugged his shoulders, seemed more laid back, was driving. He gave me encouraging smiles through the protective mesh - tuned into a decent FM station. His partner promptly turned the radio off and locked both back doors automatically. "Jeez, Mac - whaddya think she's gonna do?".

I didn't know. Had I any rights? Why was I here? I looked out of the window and saw we were headed for Milwaukee. I was adrift, flotsam and jetsam.

What was identified as Milwaukee Police Department was an enormous building, knifing up into the sky at least 20 stories. We whisked to the very top in an elevator (that's a lift, to you and I). The doors opened on to a dingy bare room with a scuffed linoleum floor, tainted by no natural light. This space was L shaped and around the corner was a sturdy table surrounded by vinyl backed chairs: I was told why I was there by an official looking person - the authorities had been informed by our neighbour, Mrs Kramer, that I was a juvenile living without adult supervision and I had been taken into custody for my own safety. My mother had returned to the UK several months before, ostensibly for a 'holiday' and just never came back, leaving me and my younger sister with our incompetent, inadequate stepfather (a man named Wally who was - a complete Wally). This stepfather had had a heart attack recently (unsurprisingly: he lived on ice-cream and sweets) and had gone to friends in Arizona to recuperate, leaving us alone in the Burlington house.

I was taken through several other locked doors and put in a cell with two beds in it. The other bed was already occupied by a 15 year old plump girl who I later found out was pregnant. And she hadn't told anyone!"


And that's where that bit of memoir finished. I wrote it when I (briefly) belonged to a women's writing group with some friends in London - around 1986-7.

5 comments:

Jo said...

What a fabulous story! What happened next?

BendingPeak said...

Very nice. I too want to know what happened next!!!
I will be back later this week for a more in depth read of your blog. Can't wait to dive in.

Riggwelter said...

a briliant story, yes, tell us what happened next!

Rain said...

Wow, you write beautifully. I love your style.

TutleyMutley said...

Err um, I've always found writing (autobiographically i mean - not knitting) a little anguish making. Thanks for all your encouraging comments. I'll have to have a deep thunk and see if I can remember clearly enough to tell you what happened next! I DO remember vaguely - and obviously I ended up back here in Blighty (ultimately!)