I have a handful of corroded memories from my childhood intermixed with imaginations and interjection. My mothers first marriage fell apart on Davis St back in Marion Ohio. She is naturally very private but I wanted to share some of my feelings of admiration and gratitude today.
She was caring for me on her own just after she escaped deep rooted poverty in a much more rural area, than even Marion, during it’s rust belt decline in the late sixties. While I became the terror that most children are … well, it must have been not only a test of strength but one of sheer resourcefulness. I read a book recently titled “Evicted” by Matthew Desmond. It spoke to the situation many sub poverty level families face today and the very steep decline we took as a Nation to arrive here since the 60’s. While I was reading this I was on a mission to re-watch every original 1960’s Star Trek episode available on Netflix as I was thinking of my mother’s struggle and climb out of poverty herself and into the lower income section of the middle class.
Some memorable episodes for me include “The City on the Edge of Forever,” with Joan Collins and a little bit of time travel. We explore the need for war when pacifism is what is right. Another one, “Mudd’s Women,” was the occasional reappearance of a buffoon like character named Harry Mudd. In this one he’s pushing drugs for people that make them the most attractive, and shallow, versions of themselves for personal gain. I loved the emotional exploration that the main female character undergoes along with the man who, eventually, accepts her for who she really is. Lastly, the final episode in the third season, “Turnabout Intruder,” is a strange one where Kirk is forced to swap bodies with an ex girlfriend who, evidently, had gone insane with jealousy for being limited in her career options by simply being female. That one speaks volumes to our culture and how limiting it is for women. I learned in “Evicted” that it is women who face the highest risk of poverty and eviction rates in the Nation currently. I also learned that children are factors that some landlords have bias against when reviewing rental applications.
My memory has both naturally decomposed over the years and worked on my behalf to protect me from the somewhat difficult times we all pass through along the way through our short free fall through life. When I think of the 1968/69 “Star Trek” series I can’t help but flash back to these fragments containing my mom during those fabulous big hair, Chanel #9, checkered plaid days while she was making some hard choices and raising me. The reason why this bit of television has meaning to me is that she’d watch it with me with her beautifully dyed hair, hand made clothing, and very stylish, alone with me as she found herself increasingly on her own.
My biological father was many things I’ll never know. He left us. I remember this moment at my adoptive fathers house where I was waiting for my biological dad to pick me up, I think at Christmas, but he never did. Both mom and my new father were there for me all night long where I was, as I would find true across the next 40 some years of my life, feeling things so much more personally than what my peers seemed to be feeling.
It was her strength however that I remember most. She had been raised in bleak rural poverty always aspiring to rise above it by making different, and sometimes difficult, choices. Her family made fun of her for being “fancy.” Always standing strong against whatever faced her. Like a rock situated between land and all the oncoming storms that life brings us.
I was looking for memories of her as I watched all the 1968/69 episodes of Star Trek. Hoping to find her on Davis St in Marion Ohio I suppose. She must have been exhausted coming home to a kid, without a reliable husband, carrying a pizza and finally sitting down on the floor and having dinner with me and Captain Kirk. It must have been scary to be as on her own as she was and yet … powerful in the knowledge that she was her very own person.
The funny thing about finding her there again was that I was recently paid a deeply touching compliment by a very dear and touchstone friend of mine. She goes all the way back to middle school and many pivotal life moments in between. It was something to the tune that my friend always respected me for doing absolutely everything I wanted to do and in exactly the I wanted to do it. I feel that this, in addition to my sense of humor, are the lasting gifts my mom equipped me with to weather the days and years of the life ahead.
So it was there where I found my mother in all those episodes of Star Trek, and in my friends gracious comment I found myself, and mom’s spirit, as well.