Listening to a song by Queen, I remembered this photo. Why? I think the song made me remember that great doco about Queen, where they so poignantly discuss his love for that lovely young woman, and how hard it was for him to embrace his gayness. This photo represents for me, in a Barthian “punctum” kind of moment, some of those same emotions and discoveries. This is 1969, Estes Park, Colorado, at the Stanley Hotel, where the group of us shown here worked in that Woodstock (and man-landing-on-the-moon!) summer. That’s Marbie Ingalls, Tom Hanlon, me, and Jeff Daniels. We are just getting ready to head on out at the end of August, to drive back East, where Tom would go back to school at Yale. Our other friend who would accompany us, Kitty Miles, must have been taking the photograph. We three girls were on our way to Europe, for our Junior Year Abroad–I would go to Vienna, Kitty and Marbie to Geneva. Jeff–the driver because it was his car–was, I think, either going back to school in Kansas, or off to New York to become an actor. Tom was in love with Kitty, and Jeff, I NOW realize, had not yet quite accepted that he was gay. During the summer, he had tried to sleep with me–I was willing, but he just couldn’t get into it. A sign of how naive and innocent I was–well, that we ALL were!–is that it wasn’t until years later that I realized he was gay, and that’s why he just couldn’t get into sex with any of us, and that he really loved Tom.
What an adventure that trip was! First stop was Jeff’s parents’ house in Manhattan, Kansas. Marbie during the night got bitten by a brown recluse spider, which by Missouri the next day had caused a red line the entire way up her arm, and she started to hallucinate. We had to stop in the middle of the night at a hospital in Columbus, Missouri, where doctors whisked her into emergency, and started looking through books on spider bites. When she was released in the morning, we drove another little while to Illinois and quite noisily and unannounced crashed at Tom’s relative’s house, where we slept for hours, raided their fridge, then forged ahead to Canada (someone for some reason wanted to see Niagara Falls). As we were waiting in line to cross back over the border into the U.S., certain revelations by some in the car led us to panic about the possibility of dope being found by the customs officer. WHAT?? The guys had made a huge display at the beginning of the trip of throwing out the window an entire ounce of pot (I was still such a prissy one!)–and now someone else admitted they MIGHT have some, too? We sweated it out, but managed to get across with no questions asked. Then on to Yale, and quantities of new adventures that only happen to you when you’re young and stupid and up for anything. All I remember now is eating real East Coast pizza for the first time, and seeing the famous psychologist Erik Erikson in Tom’s college. We girls did all get on the plane to Europe, Tom bade farewell to Kitty and went back to school, and Jeff took off for an acting life. Years later, we heard that Tom had died in a car crash. I have a vague recollection that Jeff DID make it on Broadway, and I hope has led a rewarding gay life. Kitty married a musicologist and lives in Boston, Marbie–after many, many more adventures in many different places and a real spiritual journey–married a great old surfer and sells real estate in Maui. I’ve gotta find out what happened to Jeff!