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  • What followed the strange Prom trip were a couple of more trips that made things even wierder. The first was an actual trip. I went back to Pittsburgh for my old high school’s graduation. It was difficult, at best.

    I’d left there just 3 months earlier on a very high note, both literally and figuratively. In the 6 short months that I'd attended that school, I had gone from being someone that nobody knew, to this kid who had somehow managed to get a date with one of the most popular girls in school, who then took her to an Alice Cooper concert – very ballsy move to take such a straight girl to such a whacked out show! Then, I’d hosted the year’s best kickass party that had been the talk of the school for months afterwards.

    I’d been in the middle of everything – the big rumble down on the football field, the legendary food fight in the cafeteria, I was the one who “egged” Monika outside the cafeteria, for no other reason than someone had put me up to it, and I was leaving anyway, what was to lose? She’d been walking by me in the hallway, and I had waved to her and said, “Hi, Monika!” , and just as she was saying hi back, I'd brought an egg around in my other hand in a windmill motion and brought it cracking down on her head, to the cheers of the crowd that had put me up to it. (To this day, it is one of the most despicable things I’ve ever done to another person – she didn’t deserve it, and I did it simply to please a crowd of kids who resented her for her popularity. But, at the time, I had been swept up in my own newfound popularity, and all actions had seemed justified by the popularity meter).

    And then, after having been this outrageous dude who would do anything, I left as suddenly as I had arrived on the scene. By the time I'd left in March, it seemed that everyone knew me. I was a rock star. I got letters from people telling me how everyone was still talking about my exploits.

    As things began to turn weird for me in Connecticut, I was hoping a return to the scene of my more wild and carefree days in Pittsburgh would rekindle my devil-may-care attitude and help me to lose this damned ‘conscience’, or whatever it was that I’d seemed to grow overnight. I just wanted to party and have a good time like I used to be able to. But not really. I wanted t be free, but I didn't even know from what? It was all quite confusing to me in that moment. All kinds of internal collisions going on.

    But, it seemed that those "free" days were gone now, no longer accessible to me. Thomas Wolfe was right when he said “You Can Never Go Home”. As I made the rounds of the parties, people quickly sensed my new seriousness, and I just couldn’t get away from it. Trying to explain what had happened to me in Connecticut was nearly impossible, because I did not understand it, myself. I was pretty shot out. Nobody wanted to hear my serious introspections, they wanted "wild Pete". He was no longer available.

    I went back home and attended my own graduation at Windsor High. I just barely graduated. I had goofed off so much those first 3 Quarters, cut so many classes, the only reason I managed to graduate was getting nearly straight A’s that last Quarter, in Windsor. There, I’d finally found teachers who made sense of education. The light bulb had gone on in my brain, answering the question “Why? Why learn anything from books?” The answer, instead, was “Learn from books, yes. But, also learn from life.” I did well that last quarter, just good enough to graduate.

    Things were going pretty well on graduation night until Kevin showed up, with another hit of mescaline, and I just seemed to be incapable of saying no to him. I really didn’t want to do it, but it was offered, and I just took it.

    What followed was a most bizarre evening. I drove, as Kevin took us around to all the parties, and I felt like I was on a completely different planet. It was not fun, and it was not funny, but as I described what I was going through to Kevin, he just thought it was hilarious. He was where I had been during the fun times in Pittsburgh, but I had apparently moved to some strange place out beyond that, which quite frankly, felt like hell to me. This must be what hell on earth feels like, I thought.

    At the last party we went to, I ran into Martha. She was so nice – she had no idea what was going on with me, but she was the one person who seemed to sense my turmoil. She asked if I was o.k., and if I wanted to talk. I thought she was very sweet, but wouldn’t possibly understand. I told her I'd like to talk to her some other time, but we had to take off to another party just then. She actually scared me a little, the way she seemed to sense me.

    The next day, I just felt a sense of complete devestation. All of the positive vibe I’d felt for those first 3 months in Connecticut were completely gone, and the world just seemed dead to me. I felt no hope, and an overwhelming sense of impending doom. Attempts to talk to anyone about it failed miserably, as I had no reference point. I had been doing so well, that eveyone just told me to relax and everything would be o.k. But I knew deep inside that it wouldn’t.

    I crawled into a shell. I worked a lot of hours at the restaurant, and just came home and listened to music, and the sense of desperation and hopelessness merely grew. I felt so trapped.
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