31 December 2011


The great life-changing events of one's life are, I think, seldom obvious at the time.  The first of our amateur encounter groups was a cardinal point - a 'hinge' - in my life.

Tom and I had gone tramping that day up the (incredibly beautiful) Wa'ahila Ridge Trail.  We had rather to rush back in time to go to the first of our encounter groups.  We looked rather grubby, in an outdoorsy sort of way.  Tom, in particular, looked like Tarzan.  We made it to the church in time - shirtless?? - where we were divided into small groups, sitting on the floor in circles, facing one another.

Whilst it is true that I was seeking enlightenment, self-knowledge, some sort of escape from the world I knew, it is, nevertheless, that I - as, perhaps, most of the males there - was also definitely interested in meeting girls.

And, it may be, the girls there were interested in meeting boys.

Or perhaps not.  I will let Susan take over at this point:

By the time I met John, I had been living in Honolulu for a few years and wondering what I would be doing next.  Would I stay there or return to the Mainland?  I wasn't sure where I would go, if I did return.
My parent's marriage had broken up by that time.  It still wasn't clear if their living situation was permanent but there was quite a distance between them.  My father lived in Seattle and my mother was in Los Angeles.  I do know that they did meet at least once in San Francisco.
In 1969, I was twenty-three and very unsure of myself in many ways.  In 1967 I had left my family for an "OE" (Overseas Experience) to Hawaii and had navigated many changes since but I had given little serious thought to how I was going to spend the years following.  I have often wondered if my family had been the kind who actually gave thought to these questions, where I might have ended up.
Didn't matter, because in October, 1969  I was living in a real dump of an apartment in a really fabulous location in Waikiki.
The location was on Diamond Head almost next door to the Outrigger Canoe Club.  There was only one house in front of the apartment and the beach - and the rent was cheap.  The only drawback was my roommate, Katie McDowall.  Katie couldn't help the fact that she was beautiful but rather an air head.  I never knew what to expect from her.  She was full of unlimited ideas for doing all sorts of things.
One day, while reading the Honolulu Advertiser, she announced that she had read there would be "encounter groups" held at the Unitarian Church that coming weekend.  Yes, I had heard about these groups - who hadn't in our age group?
It didn't take long to decide to attend and just see what would happen.  Mainly we were much more interested in maybe meeting guys more than anything else.
Thus unplanned are the major events of our lives.

Katie was tall, dark, and rather glamorous in appearance.  Tom was tall, blonde, and ... you get the picture.  That they would pair off - in the event, they did not - seemed likely.

Susan was neither tall nor short; was thin; and wore glasses with octagonal frames.  Perhaps it was the spectacles that made the difference.

Susan will, I trust, forgive me for the facts that, not only was she in the place of second-choice to Katie - but that when I asked her, after the group session, to a Creedence Clearwater Revival concert, it was with a pair of tickets that I had bought to take another girl (a fellow University student) - who had, in the event, turned me down.

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