Ray, this is 1987. Did you know a girl can be whatever she wants to be?
In 1987, my mother changed careers and embarked our single parent family on a move from the sleepy farm town of London, Ohio, 150 miles away to the new-fangled and unfamiliar suburban landscape of Cincinnati, Ohio. My brother, sister and myself were all born at the Madison County Hospital in London, Ohio; raised within the confines of cornfields of past familial generations, which accorded us a sense of comfort. Upon our arrival to the subdivision of Woodfield, in the Towne Properties monstrous development of Landen within Maineville, Ohio, we were fish out of water.
Landen, Ohio was a intricate web of new construction, lakes, ponds, bike trails, swimming pools and other recreational facilities. It looked more like a social experiment in suburban perfection, than an actual town. It was marketed as the perfect place to raise a family.. It was "safe"... meaning "white" and radically conventional. The neighbors did not greet diversity and adversity with open arms, and god forbid you didn't cut your grass in the careful, diagonal pattern that the Neighborhood Association encouraged.... You'd be better received by lighting a bag of crap on fire in the middle of your cul-de-sac!
My siblings and I embarked on a period of adjustment, which was not easy. Our new residence was completely different. When you live on 32 acres of land with woods, creeks, barns, animals, and a house with maid quarters that the kids are allowed to use as play quarters, you get used to a certain amount of unabashed freedom. It was pretty commonplace for us to walk around outside in just our underpants, as well as take off to the more secluded parts of our property for some alone time. We had gotten used to solitude, and it was nice. Moving into a home a quarter of the size of your farmhouse with neighbors 20 ft (!) away, was completely foreign. We never had to be quiet on the farm, as our closest neighbor was a half mile away. Being so close to our neighbors, who were for the most part, nosy assholes, kind of sucked.
The people of Landen were completely different than the people of London. Don't get me wrong, London had their fair share of assholes and mean girls. (I remember all of you, and I still think you all suck at life....and were ugly children, who more than likely grew up to be ugly adults.) However, the people of Landen were jaded. Jaded in a "I get everything I want and what I really want is to be better than you and I will apply any means necessary to achieve my goals." It was a sentiment held by both adults and children alike... Also, I had no idea what racism was until I moved to Landen. There were less than ten people of color in our entire school, not to mention a card carrying faction of kids whose parents were in the Ku Klux Klan. Keep it classy, y'all!
After a year of contorting our personalities into foreign shapes, my brother tired of trying and just stopped. I was soon to follow. We fell into a crowd of misfits and wanna-be miscreants. We began to shave parts of our hair off, wearing combat boats, listening to music that was never to be played on pop radio, but were lucky enough to live within the listening radius of WOXY, 97X.
It was a whole new world. It was a world of creativity and rebellion. One was free to be as weird as one wanted to be and it was liberating... Sure, in the confines of the classroom and high school halls, it was a different story of harassment, bullying and general meanness... However, when your opinion of the people who are making fun of you is as low as mine was for these mouth-breathing, hillbilly, sister-fucking, rednecks, you tend not to care.. You eat their hate like love and it only makes you stronger.
to be continued........
Next up: Club Soda, 97Xtra-Beats Teen Dances and the Mythical Land of Short Vine.