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Dissolving Into the Nocturnal Abyss:

Oh the Treasures to Be Found in the Wee, Small Hours of the Morning

 

Where to begin. It’s 1978. Jimmy Carter is in the White House. The disco hit Boogie Oogie Oogie has us shaking our booties till we just can’t boogie no more. Streaming services are something offered only by a urologist. And yours truly is a wide-eyed 17-year old luxuriating in the endless summer between high school graduation and the start of college.

 

Having been sprung like a jailbird from the confines of Henninger High School in Syracuse, NY, I felt the dizzying freedom an inmate must feel after serving their sentence and being released into the good graces of society. I had served my sentence – 12 long years (as opposed to the “short” ones?). And I believe I served my sentence with some distinction and even got time off for good behavior since I graduated after the 11th grade (woo-hoo!).

My name is David Hardiman and I’m not using stilts.

 

This rite of passage complete, any future schooling would be pursued on my terms. I would no longer be a burden to society. In the future, it would be a burden on me. But for now I was happy to navigate in this once in a lifetime twilight zone between high school and college. It seemed bizarre that having dearly earned the sweet release from mandatory public schooling and its free education, I would now immediately plunge voluntarily right back into it, and even pay my own way for the privilege. God works in mysterious ways, and so does higher education.

 

I mention all this by way of establishing set and setting for what was to be my 1978 Summer of Otherworldly Delights. It was a pleasantly disruptive time for me. One I looked forward to with dizzying anticipation. Up until this point in my life I’d always known what I’d be doing the next year. My GPS had come from the factory with the route of my formative years all mapped out till graduation, upon which it uttered the now commonplace phrase, “You have arrived?”

 

Really? That was it. That was the journey. Someone or something thinks I have arrived? Well OK boomer. Freed from the restraints of compulsory education, I could now plug in the GPS coordinates of my choice and travel there as I saw fit. This is the freedom everyone so dearly seeks. This is what it felt like in 1978. My choices would be limited only by my imagination and, of course, that sabotaging little voice inside that reminds you, “Oh, you couldn’t possibly aspire to that.”

 

 

Four Foremost Factors, Poorly Ranked 

Long term I didn’t know what would occupy me, but in that short term summer I had fertile little plans gestating happily in my still maturing frontal lobes. First and foremost there would be, “no more pencils, no more books, no more teachers dirty looks.” In truth school wasn’t that bad, but I was glad the compulsory part of it was over and I was ready to move on.

 

Second and not foremost, I would work. Circumstances were such that I could be productively plugged into gainful employment whenever I chose to work (which was often) at our family glass and mirror business. A business my divorced, disinterested and dithering dad ran with all the aplomb of a dust bunny. I had developed a fondness for its mom and pop retail charms as well as an appreciation of its minor commerce with major players like Carrier, Conrail and GM’s Terex heavy equipment division. Anyway, the upshot of my unexceptional work ethic was that I enjoyed my time with dad and always had a little walkin’ around money. 

 

Third and still not foremost, the “little plans” that I mentioned included one big plan. A strange and wonderful plan catalyzed by my new found freedom and a penchant for out-of-this-world experiences. I resolved to dissolve into the nocturnal abyss and share in the treasures to be found in the wee, small hours of the morning. This would be undertaken in the still of the night within the eerie confines of nearby and dear by Sunnycrest Park.

 

Fourth and kinda foremost without actually being foremost, my other plans that summer included playing pick-up basketball games, visiting with friends and moving my mother out of our top floor flat at the end of August when I was off to college and she off to a posh one bedroom apartment closer to her work in downtown Syracuse. With mommy lacking any extra rooms, and daddy sleeping on a cot and living in the back of the glass shop and unable to provide adequate shelter for anyone (not even himself), the umbilical cord was cut and I was now an emancipated child at 17. Read the rest of this entry »