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Chapter 6: Memphis

Not long after Scotty and I broke up, I met Casey, a boy from Iowa who was living in Mississippi. He worked construction, only listened to old school hard rock and smoked a lot of weed. Casey didn't have a car - he hitchhiked to work - but he did have a crazy expensive stereo. He lived with his brother and uncle in an apartment on the back of the Long Beach skating rink.

One weekend night, my brother and I had been driving around with someone - can't for the life of me think who it was - and the three of us ended up in the skating rink parking lot playing frisbee with Casey. Well, the guys were playing frisbee. I was sitting on the hood of my car listening to the Fabulous Thunderbirds. I had recently cut my hair super short and was wearing a new pair of tight jeans and high top black converse.

A day or two later I get a call from Casey. He showed me later where he'd gone inside that night and looked me up in the phone book. Indeed, my dad's name was circled. Within a week or so I had basically moved into his apartment. I remember making excuses to my dad that I was spending nights at girlfriends' houses but he figured it out pretty quick. One day I went home to pick up some of my stuff and he had left me a letter where he asked me if I loved this boy, didn't I want to be with him for time and all eternity? I'm telling ya, a Mormon in good standing until the day he died.

I had left the taco stand and was working at a new Mexican restaurant in Gulfport. It wasn't doing well though. The economy on the coast was really, really bad in the mid- to late-80s, before the casinos moved in. Mom called from Jackson, where she and her second husband how lived, and assured me she could get both of us a job at the telephone company in Jackson if I'd come up there. I told her I'd come...but with Casey. I mean, he could find construction work anywhere. The two of us were on the move.

The day after we arrived, Mom informed me that, unfortunately, the jobs were actually scabs during the telephone operator strike, so we wouldn't be able to accept them. In case you were wondering what I meant earlier about her ability to manipulate me.

Casey and I spent one summer in Jackson and absolutely hated it. I worked at a makeup counter at the mall. He installed air conditioning. He called it the biggest small town he'd ever been in. (I still call it that.) By fall we were headed further north - to his mom, in Memphis, Tennessee. We moved up there the week I turned 20. He got construction work; I got a job in a day care and enrolled at Memphis State University. We lived there together about a year and a half. By then my dad had passed, my brother had moved to Memphis, and Memphis became my home for the next 25 years or so.

Casey was a good guy with midwestern values and a good heart. He had a decent Republican work ethic, in that he was willing to work for what he got. The problem was that he preferred smoking weed and drinking beer to working. So he worked just the bare minimum to get by. Occasionally we would splurge on things like...Monsters of Rock concert tickets at the Liberty Bowl.

I had more ambition than that. I was still floundering a bit with what I wanted to be exactly when I grew up but I knew I wanted to get my degree and be a professional. Eventually it was just too much of a divide. Casey was the first boy that I ever broke up with. I didn't do it well. I tried to walk away a couple times but would go back for a week or so before then leaving again.

Then I met Kent, a college graduate with a degree in finance who had Donald Trump's Art of the Deal on his nightstand. So I hitched my wagon to that.

More to come...

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