Thursday, 11 March 2010

The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me by, Shawn M. Cohen

March 1976. I left Los Angeles bereft. As fate would have it, I sat crying my eyes out even before I left, there on a bench at Santa Monica City College, after I had withdrawn from school. I felt weak, emotionally raw and had to sit on a bench outside on the main campus, trying to collect myself. But it was to no avail, the tears fell by themselves. I knew this was the end of a dream for me. My mother needed me at home, end of story. Looking for some Kleenex in my purse, my eyes blurred with tears, I didn't see him approaching me. Suddenly, an arm was around me. I looked up to see who it was. There was Glen. Perched on the arm of this bench, looking very concerned, his piercing blue eyes gazing down at me. "What's all this about then? What's wrong?" he asked me. I felt like a fool, but it was too late. I just filled in the blanks of what I had been going through. He knew that madness I was going home to, tried to comfort me and told me to dry my eyes. Eventually, we talked about us and why we didn't work out. He said we were both just too young, and I knew he was right. He asked me if I wanted him to drive me home, even though he would be missing his class. I told him, no, he shouldn't miss his class. I thought how hard we had both worked to be together in L.A. in 1974. That little bungalow we rented in North Hollywood, living "in sin" as they(the Establishment) had called it, and then apart. I was 18years old, one day out of High School graduation when I came to him there and he was all of 20. We had dated all through High School in Pittsburgh. He was tall, and handsome, those deep blue Piscean eyes and that long, black, slightly curly hair showed his love for rock and roll . A poet hippy like me. He was studying Chemistry now and reading Martin Buber and Ayn Rand. His Jewish background was evident from his conversations, slipping in the odd Yiddish slang but a true rebel who championed the Underdog and I loved that about him. He taught me how to do everything, from smoking cigarettes to driving a car to all manner of teenage growing up adventures. He was my very first boyfriend . I was age 14 when we met. He was 16, and a proud owner of a Kawasaki motorcycle. He worked in a Kosher butchers for a whole summer to buy it. My mother had a fit when he pulled into our driveway with his "steed", as he called it, giving him a brutal interrogation when he came to pick me up for our date. He always convinced her I would be safe with him, somehow. He was my first date, my first kiss, my first everything. All his male friends from Allderdice High School dated my female friends from Peabody High School. So it was great when Mike moved out to L.A., also from Allderdice, a friend of Glen's who Reva and I knew from back home. We all hung out together, us four Pittsburghers ; young , free and having a ball discovering The City of Angels. They were still playing The Doors music everywhere, too, in 1974, '75 even '76. It made my day to hear Jim Morrison belting out , "L.A. Woman" from some top down, fancy sports car on the Sunset Strip.

But this was all gone now, and I had to go home. Glen offered, in one final gallant gesture, to take me to the airport. He and Mike helped Reva and I move into our Sweetzer Ave. apartment in West Hollywood with what little bits of furniture we had. I had my LPS, my classical guitar, and loads of clothes. That's what I came with and now, that is what I would be leaving with. That, a few great memories and about a dozen defunked college course books.
The day came too soon. Reva would give up the apartment and move back home. Glen and Mike came to the airport with Reva. I said good-bye to them all with a heavy heart and tears streaming down my face. It was a late night flight from L.A to Pittsburgh...known as "The Red Eye". I had to laugh at the irony. The tears never let up all 5 and half hours of the flight east. I arrived in the early dawn, knowing my mother would never get up that early to meet me. I took a cab home. The sun was barely up, and it was a grey day. Spring was trying to come through but it was having difficulty. As the yellow cab came out of the Fort Pitt Tunnels and revealed Downtown Pittsburgh and its Point, the three rivers that meet, I knew I was home. I sat back in the cab, resigned. I lit another cigarette and starred almost comatose out the window at the passing scenery to Stanton Heights, then finally to 5108 Rosecrest Drive. As the cab driver pulled up on the hillside curb to park, I saw my house. My eyes widened and my heart sank even further, if it was possible. The grass was so overgrown it nearly blocked the walkway to the door! The flower boxes were all bare, everything looked rough. It then hit me how long this must have been going on. Where was the skilled beauty from the Japanese gardener my father employed? I paid the cab driver and he helped me with my suitcases. I was so embarrassed by the state of our once groomed lawn and garden, I told him it was ok, I would take it myself and tipped him. I scrambled through the mess to the front door, hunted deep in my purse for my house keys, which I hadn't used for almost 2 years. As I turned the key to open the door, I looked around at this Upper Middle class, predominantly Jewish neighborhood I had grown up in. The Cadillacs, Mercedes and Porches parked in their neatly manicured driveways of each house. I felt sick to my stomach. What must our neighbors think?!! It looks like the Adams Family lives here!
There was no gratitute in coming home. My mother saw it as necessary, no sacrifice on my part. I went to bed and spent the better part of 3 weeks there not even bothering to celebrate my 20th birthday. Nor did I call any of my girlfriends. I just couldn't bare it. My younger brother told me what he had seen. The fighting and yelling, the threats and the name calling. "Shawn, you didn't miss a thing! That Bastard was awful to Mummy!" He was talking about our father. I was glad to see him again, in spite of the bad news he delivered. It must have been really tough on him, too. He was the youngest and the only one left at home to witness it all. I felt sorry for him, really. He was still in high school. My mother came up with an idea to get me out of my malaize. She knew a photographer who would do some head shots of me, maybe I could do some modelling, she asked me. "What? Are you nuts?!" I told her. "That's not going to get us anywhere! And by the way, I'm too damn fat to model, or haven't you noticed?" I was so angry. She didn't go out and find a job but somehow I was going to model us out of poverty! "I know you aren't stick thin, but you could be a face model, and they make good money, why not? Anyway, I already made the appointment, and it's tomorrow, so look your best, we have to be there at 1:00." My mother had made up her mind and there was no going back. "Gee," I said sarcastically, "I wish you had warned me, since I just ate myself up a dress size from depression!" Her show biz reply was, "Head shots! Head Shots! Doesn't matter!" It was clear to me, my mother was still living in the movies.

I was never so embarrassed in my life. There it is, in the picture above, one of the results.I felt like a complete moron posing in that stupid cowboy hat! I had to do something quick to get back to L.A. or get a!

The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me, by, Shawn M. Cohen, Copyright 2010. This is a blog based on the book I have been writing called, "The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me". It is non-fiction memoirs of my life and the psychic and spiritual journey I took through the deaths of two men I had loved. My awakening began when I was 23 years old and the other when I was 49. How each had come to me after our relationships were through, even many years later, in Spirit form. I had no idea either had died, because I wasnt in contact with either or even in the same city, state or country as them! This is my journey, their after life, what each one showed me that changed my life forever. Ultimately learning that Love Never Dies.
When necessary for privacy, I have changed the surname of individuals but all accounts are true.

The Pittsburgh Phantom and Me