And your hands upon the wheel- more sophomore year at UB

Sophomore year progressed with my days filled with classes. I took 20 credit hours in my first semester. I don’t really know why I took such a heavy load when 15 credits hours is a normal load. It wasn’t as if I was in a hurry to graduate or even behind, because I entered college with 10 credit hours from my time in Houghton.

I started a new job too. I joined a bunch of my friends from the Fresh Fourth like Jim and my roomie, Elaine, working at Governor s Cafeteria. My new friend Jon, who I got in the car accident with worked there too. Amy and Dave (Jon’s roommate), the other two from the accident, worked there too. It was a lot of fun working at food service.

One of our friends, Dean, was the student manager and Mr. Modica was the manager- except for Wednesdays when an older Black lady named Marie was the manager. I was banned from her shift when she caught me throwing glasses at Jim in the dishroom (which just auto corrected to dudgeon and I should have kept it as that). But free food meant I could drop my meal plan.

So this was how we came into sophomore year. More confident, closer as friends, and having expanded our friend circles.

Staying up in Buffalo over the summer ways would expand my friend circle because there was a smaller group of us from different groups who stuck around, so we’d hang together and then go back to our primary friend groups when school was back in session. But still maintain those friendships and even make new ones with their friends.

This was how my destructive obsession of sophomore year, Erv, entered into our circle of friends. He first enters my journal as “some guy Jimmy met over the summer.” Over the summer, Jim had met a lot of different people, including the people who sold the drugs to college kids. So our choices were vastly expanded beyond weed and alcohol.

Before I go any further with that I will say that I have never done cocaine or any derivative of it. Same thing with heroin. It never made any sense to me to do a drug that could cause such high level of addiction. I didn’t realize then that addictions come in all ways, not just drugs. So even though I didn’t do these destructive drugs, I still engaged in dangerously destructive behavior that would mirror drug addiction.

So we now knew the local campus suppliers of all things that college students like: weed, hash, mushrooms, ecstasy and acid. Eventually by the end of my sophomore summer, I will have tried all of these substances but for the beginning of the year we were just smoking weed and sometimes taking mushrooms.

I was living in the clouds. Like in Little Wing – “butterflies and zebras and fairy tails” that’s all I wanted to think about. And a boy entering my life that would tell me all the things I wanted to hear and was focused on the dark side could lead me right into the darkness and oblivion that I sought.

My writings continued to show a person with a deeply troubled mind, but in the outside I was just some girl just wanting to party all the time. And I’m not going to lie and say I was in misery. I had a lot of fun. Sometimes too much fun. Again, I have no idea how I didn’t fail out of college. Many of my fronds didn’t make it through. Even Erv had to leave for a semester or two. But for now, he was here at UB, with me and my deranged and twisted mind.

He was perfect for me then. He was tall and dark and low key when he was around others but intense when we were alone. He loved Jim Morrison and was obsessed with living his life like No One Here Gets Out Alive. And I think he liked me as a friend. Who knows? Who cares?

He had a girlfriend and I knew it. It didn’t stop us from hooking up. He hooked up with all kinds of girls. I don’t think I was looking for a boy to marry me anymore. I think I had abandoned that dream realizing that any boy that I liked would not like me because of my color and my body size. But I wanted him to love my mind.

And he loved the darkness. He loved to push the boundaries of everything and I was ready willing and able to follow him into that darkness. I don’t really know what demon he was wrestling back then like I was or if he was just some suburban kid having fun pretending to be Jim Morrison, but for me that life was something I wanted.

I was tired of playing by the rules and never winning.

I was tired of being a good girl.

I was tired of trying to be a white girl.

But it was all I knew, so I set out to be the opposite of what the good girl that everyone thought I was and Erv would be the perfect person to help me along this road.

The first night we hooked up, a bunch of us played Laser Tag. Andy good friend Jim abandoned me with “this kid Erv” who I barely knew. I guess he thought it was safe to leave his friend who was also a girl with some random dude. Yeah, that’s how much these white boys looked at me as “one of the boys.”

When I read my journal entries of these times out with him, I laugh out loud. Because he was honestly a lot of fun to be around. For every person who has brought me to a dark place in my life, they also taught me so much about myself. And I never blame them for my darkness and my issues, they were mere players in the game of my life.

So a big groups of us went to play Laser Tron and one group went home afterwards and me and Jim and this kid Erv went to Chevy’s bar on Bailey and Winspear in Buffalo. I remember this because it was a dive bar and that I beat Erv at pool and I was a horrible pool player.

Chevy’s was the typical Buffalo dive bar with pool table and dart machine and lots of cheap beer. But that night we did shots of Wild Turkey. And Jim suddenly disappeared and left me with this kid Erv. Who I didn’t know but he seemed nice. So he said hang out and then we can go back to his place and get high. Cool by me.

And just like that I was hooked. He became my sophomore obsession over a game of pool and Laser Tron.

So maybe it’s not so safe to leave your friends who are girls with random dudes that they don’t know. It turned out fine for me, Erv and I got along fine but I can’t help but wonder if he’d been an American Psycho or something.

I hope that my girls make better friend and better decisions. I know they have much more self confidence than I ever did at their age. Heck, they ain’t beat me in swagger NOW and I’m at least 30 years older than all of them, so I feel hopeful.

But they were raised as Black girls and taught to embrace their beauty exactly the way they are and to not try to change to meet anyone else’s approval. Which is something that this young Sara did. It learn for many, many years.

















About sjwoods318

Mother of six children - five girls and one boy; wife; community organizer, family chauffeur, philosopher, trans-racial adoptee, Deadhead, person of mixed racial heritage, artist, poet, writer who loves to swim, read, and run around with my family.
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