My World Before 18
by Margo Jodyne Dills

Images like LSD trips we took fifty years ago, though far less burdened as current baggage.

Visualizing me, at 17 is laden with sentiment, old passion and a melancholy for revolution.

A child in turmoil, I learned to sit and stand and speak and live and march and sing and write and burn and ride and chant and wave and not give up.

Beyond Dylan, I was 17 and found Dave Van Ronk, Lead Belly, Mose Allison and a bit of Purple Haze.

Read José Martí, Ché, Anaïs Nin, Ferlinghetti, Ginsberg. Trekked to City Light Books. Hung out at Suzzallo and The Last Exit. Drank tea. Hitchhiked. Dreamed of extended backpacking.

There were songs of protest, love, naked guns and sheltered corporations. Lending a hand seemed like our very own idea. The Heat were the enemy; pigs.

17, a mystifying time; secrets, discoveries, experimentation, rejection, revolution, cults.

UFOs, missiles launching, southern lynching, LBJ, harm in harm’s way. Passing pipes.

Loose in the park after midnight, misunderstanding sex. Light my fire.

Driving cars while under the influence of lust.

Determining with certainty that white children and black children were treated differently, taught differently, schooled differently, ate differently, loved differently, died differently.

MLK and RFK shot. dead.

Boys I knew… supplied with guns and bewilderment, sent to a land we’d never heard of; came back in pieces, if at all.

There were undoubtedly sock hops and VWs and miniskirts and forced church attendance. There were grade-point-averages, college entrance exams and for some, there was birth control.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This ancient photo was taken in the journalism classroom when I was 17, an aspiring writer, journalist, photojournalist, artist, and poet. I’ve managed to fulfill some of those dreams, in spite of getting pregnant, raising three kids, often on my own, battling nightmares, and putting dreams on hold.  (Enumclaw High School, 1969 — Enumclaw, Washington).


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Margo Jodyne Dills is an active member of PNWA and Hugo House in Seattle, former staff writer for Banderas News, Puerto Vallarta; writes as a guest blogger under the names of Jake Diego and Adam Garcia in Panama, Colombia, and Mexico; works as an editor, web script and travel writer on both sides of the border. She keeps busy writing poetry and editing a soon-to-be-published novel The Boys. Seattle, Washington, is her permanent home but she keeps her condo in Mexico and runs there to hide when the weather gets too unbearable up north. Her friends call her Jodi. Visit her at