|Daryl, Edward, Dade|
Yes, we got into trouble. Not to use it as an excuse, but we came from broken homes. All three of us lived with our siblings and our recently-divorced mothers. Our mothers had their hands full taking care of their kids and keeping them clothed and fed, and (God knows) dealing with those various crises that descend on women who find themselves suddenly single in a frightening world.
We weren't bad boys.
We came to that little corner of South Salem at approximately the same time. Daryl got there in 1970; I arrived the next year and Edward the year after that. We all went to Candalaria Elementary School on Hansen Street at the top of the hill. Daryl was the oldest and the most self-assured and since he was the best at talking to girls, he was our leader. Edward was loyal and boyishly good-looking and sensitive. And I suppose I provided the temperance, the moderation for our little trio. I was the one who voiced caution when we went to Fred Meyer on Commercial Street to shoplift toy guns and candy. I was the last of we three to smoke dope. I was the one who always worried about getting in trouble.
We were going to be rock stars, singing nothing but Beatles' cover tunes. We were going to play football for the Los Angeles Rams. We took pride in our ethnic identities (Italian, Mexican) even though none of us knew anything about the world beyond white bread Salem, Oregon.
Passions ran high for three good-hearted, confused boys who had manhood thrust at them like sharpened stakes. We were brothers and rivals and best friends; we alternately loved and hated each other.
On warm summer evenings, we'd hide ourselves among the trees at the top of the embankment that overlooked Crestview Drive and pelt passing cars with fir cones and dirt clods. Or we'd climb on the roof of Candalaria School, scaling up the hedge that grew outside Mrs. Yoshikai's office. We would go up there and smoke a joint and covertly watch other kids walk by below us. Kids who came from homes with both parents. Kids whom we knew we made uneasy with our rebellious behavior, our seeming devil-may-care contempt of authority.
It was mostly a facade. We were scared and lonely. We were pulled by the riptides of puberty just as strongly as any of the other kids. But we had to do it alone. Our fathers lived far away, and our mothers were struggling just to keep up. There were none but each other to see us through.
Although I still have trouble believing it, that golden era of our lives lasted just a few years. Each of us eventually became too much for his mother to handle and was sent to live with his father in Klamath Falls, and Richland, Washington, and Las Vegas. But the friendships that we forged in those days have lasted to this day, nearly forty years later.
Daryl and Edward and I are all very, very different people. Life's currents took us each in vastly disparate directions. But for that brief time, we were three boys who found themselves standing at the same crossroads at the same time. We knew no future; we had no pasts. What we had was then and there. And that's all we had.
What a time. What a time.