Highway 61 (2nd installment of a 5 part series)

As the title indicates this is the second installment of a 5 part series. If you are just joining this storyline you may wish to scroll up to the last installment and read that 1st. Just put your cursor on the post title and click–a link in red will appear above–click on that. Thanks. Orion

Stopping to rest on a bus stop bench in front of huge auditorium, she collapsed on her back staring up at the stars. She was getting what she wanted—dying and being born at the same time but most importantly, she was much closer to that incredible perfect something out there in the hazy somewhere she was destined to find. And when she did, in that moment of blinding, exquisite realization it would all make sense—everything—all the emptiness, suffering and suffocating stupidity would be worthwhile.

For a few months she thought it was the boy who had gone off to die but she decided knowing, loving and losing him was just a milepost on the journey—the one her uncle often spoke of saying things like, “We’re all traveling through life, Cheryl—and we’re

usually the ones who decide how tough the trip is. We can and should, love and help each other as we pass through this world, but you decide what your trip is about—only you can make your journey—don’t look to others.”

The memory of her uncle’s wisdom and death-transcending love—was proof in her heart, the spiritual fulfillment of perfect love was possible. The stars, in their beautiful, shining indifference, did not encourage her but they did light the way—they were doing their job. Her job was to live through the suffering of the moment and keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Samantha was delighted to see Cheryl standing like a bedraggled, lost puppy on her front porch and apologized for her friend not showing up—something about a pool game and a lot of money riding on the outcome. 

After a bowl of canned stew and a shower, Cheryl passed out on the couch and slept 14 hours.

The next day (early afternoon actually) twisting restlessly on the couch, she drifted in and out of a dream about her and the boy back home making love to Jim Morrison’s “When The Music’s Over.” The haunting, dissonant chord progressions and dark invocations blending with passion and physical gratification, connected her to the entire existence of humanity. Unconscious dreams and unremembered memories gave color and substance to Cheryl’s mystical yearning for a sense of grounding in a secular world of nihilistic illusion. Love was possible and real but always fleeting. Life was about moments of clarity and astonishing joy separated by centuries of emptiness and pointless existing. So often it was not a matter of whether love could be had—but how much were you willing to pay.

In 1968 the America Cheryl lived in was a deeply divided and conflicted society. The country’s youth were demanding the impossible from the established order—freedom from and repudiation of a self-congratulatory, middle-class materialism and the vicious arrogance of a military-industrial complex bent on exploiting and tyrannizing the world.  The outraged members of the established order, who had wrested their comfortable, hypocritical Arthur-Godfrey values, suburban homes, cars and TV sets from the bloody chaos of world war two, hated the filthy hippies, the communist-bastard protesters, the morally corrupt free-lovers and wanted them crushed and flushed.

If—for so many American youth, the smugly complacent, Eisenhower-Nixon-Norman

Rockwell All-American banality was not what their nation should be about—what then was the new America young people were demanding—about?   All around and within her was dissatisfaction, conflict, turmoil and change. After the death and re-birth—if it happened—what would America be? Who would she be?

Many young people, and some not so young people, in various ways, set off on a search for national and personal identities. For Cheryl, the sensual, outrageous and enigmatic Jim Morrison with his uncompromising contempt for middle America and powerful anti-establishment art, seemed nothing less than a beacon in the midst of an endless journey into American darkness.


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