Summer 1991

The Words of the prophets are written on the subway walls and tenement halls and whispered in the sound of silence



This is me and Jon at the senior ball in at UB which is thrown every year by the USAB. I belonged to USAB with a bunch of my friends – it was the student alumni group at UB and also the group the sponsors Oozefest – UB’s annual mud volleyball tournament. We had a lot of fun with USAB and even got to plan their National Conference that was held in Buffalo in March of 1992 – I was in charge of picking the food!

But back to the senior ball, I went with Jon, who was the person that I had been in love with since I ditched Erv in my mind. Jon was always a really good friend to me and we spent all our time together. And I was in love with him, but he told me that he “loved” me but was not “in love” with me. At the time I didn’t understand at all what he was saying. I do now. All I know is that I wanted to be with him and we were friends who spent all our time together, so I accepted what he gave me.

And we had a lot of fun together. So who cared if he wasn’t “in love” with me? I wish that this never came back to bite us both in the butt later, but it did. But for now, we were hanging out and having fun. These would be the last couple months that I would be able to hang out with him because he was leaving to go live in Knoxville, Tennessee to live with our other friend Eric and to attend the University of Tennessee.

So the summer started with all of us attending the Senior Ball and moving into our new apartment on Minnesota. (See https://sjheslinwoods.wordpress.com/2015/02/27/minnesota-avenue-a-picture-book/ for  a more in depth description of the house on Minnesota 😉 )

This was the first summer that all of my friends seemed to stay in Buffalo for the summer.  My friends Joe and Chuck were my house mates..  We all loved to do all kinds of things together, like go shopping at Tops International or Wegman’s and then we would all cook and eat together.

And the music never stopped.  Chuck and I went to Toronto to see Guns and Roses.  Jon and I went to Soldier Field in Chicago and to Giants Stadium in New Jersey to see the Dead.  We saw Paul Simon in Toronto and Buffalo.  At Giants Stadium, Little Feat opened for the Dead and Spike Lee was filming a Levi’s commercial in our section while they were playing.  At the Chicago show, we had to best time.  The show was amazing and we wandered all over the city like little children all night long.  Eventually we ended up at a Greek Restaurant and had the best Greek food ever.

Music was a big deal to me at UB.  Sometime in there we saw Don Henley and Elvis Costello at Canada’s Wonderland.  We went to REM because we were bored one afternoon and the tickets weren’t sold out.   I went to Lollapalooza at the Saratoga Springs Performing Arts Center.  That is the coolest place ever to see a concert, except for Red Rocks, where I saw Blues Traveler on the 4th of July with all the fireworks displays going on below me.  Awesome times.

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At the end of summer, Chuck and I drove down to NYC with Jon and met up with our friend Rob for Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints Free Concert at Central Park.  This was an awesome time.  I had already seen the concert twice – once in Buffalo and once in Toronto, so I knew already how awesome it was.  …And I knew the entire setlist because, unlike the Dead, Paul Simon did not change his lineup each show. At the end of the show, he closes with five encores – the last being Sound of Silence.  So when everyone was cheering after the fourth encore, I said “wouldn’t it be really cool if he came back out and did another encore, like did Sound of SIlence?”  I think the people around me thought I was some work of psychic – one guy came up to me and said “Good call man!”  Jon, who had been at the other two concerts with be, literally fell over laughing.

IMG_7032 Chuck and Joe deciding who will do the dishes.

And the outcome…

Our house was the hang out spot for the summer.  Our friends were always over.  Or it was the place to crash after being out all night.  I seem to remember the Showtime would show some pretty risque shows in the wee hours of the morning.

Mike (above) and Jen (to the right)

Chuck hanging in my room.  Don’t ya love the Morrison poster?

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IMG_7031Chuck and Joe doing (?) – getting ready to fly a kite?

Our friend Dave, who is now a doctor, teaching me how to take a blood pressure.

On the days that I wasn’t traveling out of town to see concerts, I would go to Broadway Joe’s and see Sonic Garden or Acoustic Forum (whose drummers was Vinnie D’Amico) of moe. (both bands).   This was a fun time for me.  One where i seemed to be ok with who I was and what I was doing.  I was a pretty normal college kid.  I had really tapered back on my drinking and while I will admit that I did partake of other substances, I was not over indulging like I had been in previous years.  I will call this time in my life the Eye of the Storm.  The years prior and the years that were about to come would be what I call the tornado hitting the train wreck..

My writing from the time still showed a very sad and distant mind.  As I get older and have met some people from my birth family, I wonder if I was channeling some of them and was unable to deal with their emotions.  Research has shown that we carry the trauma of our ancestors in our DNA.  Now that I know the history of my biological family, I think I was spiritually connected with them.




I was pulling further away from my adoptive family at this time.  Not for any reason than I just didn’t relate to them in a lot of ways.  I had been out in the world and their worldview was very narrowly influenced by the smallness of the world around them.  They only knew what they knew and weren’t the type of people to explore outside of their boundaries.  I wanted to explore new people and new foods.  They did not.  So, I was out exploring the world.

I am thankful for these times to have made me the person who I am today.  The good, the bad and the ugly.  It was in moments of peace like this summer, that I felt joy and completeness.  Where I did feel included and loved and even liked and wanted.  It it probably one of the only times in my life, if ever permitted, that i would want to return and visit.

The feeling was fleeting, because I was about to be confronted with being Black and what that meant.

This summer, I was Sara.

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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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