What Was The Last Day Of My Youth?

I just watched this movie for the third time. I love it. It’s about growing up an Adventist in Australia.

It made me think, what was the last day of my youth?

Here’s my answer — the morning I woke up with a bad flu in February of 1988. That led to almost six years in bed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I was never the same afterward in either my physical or mental strength.

Here are other possible dates for the end of my youth:

* The morning in May of 1984, the end of my Senior year of high school, when I cut Media class (I think with the permission of the teacher) and went to Alice’s home and played in her pool with other Seniors. Alice was a brunette beauty. I admired her from afar. I ran into her a few times at Sierra Community College. She transferred to UC Berkeley and got her degree in English.

I had never cut class before. It seemed so rebellious and transgressive. I loved playing in the pool and I felt almost normal.

* Later in May 1984, when I was 18, I finally got my driver’s license. Once that happened, I had a ticket to drive and could take on an adult life.

* Perhaps it was the afternoon I drove away from home on August 22 of 1988 and took the I-5 to freedom at UCLA. It would be the first time I would live apart from family and friends. This would be the year I would cease to see my father as my hero — he didn’t change, I did — and begin my first steps towards Judaism.

* Perhaps it was August 28, 1988, when I heard Dennis Prager’s voice for the first time (on KABC radio) and became a big fan and ended up converting to Judaism and dedicating myself to writing an unauthorized biography of my hero.

* Perhaps it was the evening that week of Valentine’s Day, 1989, (Thursday, February 16, I believe) when I would lose my virginity.

* Perhaps it was the day in July 1993 when I fled my parent’s home and despite crippling Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and a relationship in the toilet, I flew to Orlando and moved in with my girlfriend. I knew almost no one but her in the city. I started going regularly to my first synagogue, Ohev Shalom. I started going regularly to her psychiatrist, Daniel Golwyn, and he got me on nardil, which began the turnaround of my health. I was 27 and about to re-enter the world. This would not have happened if I hadn’t left home to move into a terrible heart-breaking relationship punctuated by her infidelity (done to get me out of the house). I picked up the pieces of my heart on my first evening away and slept with an old alcoholic black woman and soon I was on my feet again, slicing through the ladies back to health.

* Perhaps it was August 14, 1980. I was 14. The setting was the high altitude (about 7500 feet above sea level) Glacier View Ranch in Colorado. On Thursday, the General Conference President of the Seventh-Day Adventist church (aka the leader), Neal Wilson, went after my father from his seat high above the gathering of the Church elite. He got angry. He said to dad, “Why won’t you listen to your peers?” My dad didn’t get much of a chance to reply. He just had to take it. I was sitting in the audience with my step-mom Gill. I got upset watching my dad torn apart by the church administrators. I really didn’t care about dad’s theological positions but I felt defensive about my father like never before. I became upset on his behalf like never before. I felt like he was being bullied and humiliated by Neal Wilson. I was familiar with dad’s constant controversies but nothing like this had happened before. Gill told me to calm down because the emotional way I was acting argued for Neal Wilson’s position that I should not have been come to the conference.

I would never again consider myself a Seventh-Day Adventist (though I lived around that milieu for another four years). I would never again find a home. Perhaps this was the last day of my youth?

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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