Alternative West was an amazing school. We grew into ourselves very well there.
Learning to channel was an unexpected milestone, there would be others more humbling, but we were coming to feel like a living god in our beautiful school snuggled among many beautiful friends.
Our school sat on 52 acres of land with horses on two sides in fields and paddocks.
This land was an arboretum, many species of trees flourished here with quiet glades and meadows amongst them.
Our school was a tenant of the Episcopal Church.
A large mansion made of the same grey stone as the carraige house we rented was a meeting place for the highest luminaries of the Episcopalians and their peers.
To the rear of the mansion was a formal garden where our graduation ceremonies were held.
Our carriage house perched on a broad ledge below a steep hill, a ledge wide enough for a guest house on the opposite side of the driveway.
Below the guest house the land called Denbigh fell away in a gentle slope into a marsh.
A stream ran through this marsh, a stream that entered into the marsh from the west, passing below a stone bridge.
Below the bridge to the west the stream was parted by an island popular as a partying place and class area.
The domain of Denbigh was a very pleasurable place from end to end, a small piece of Heaven on Earth.
We loved to climb the trees!
For phys-ed credit we built a treehouse over-looking the window of our director's office and the windows of our music room on the lower floor. We built our treehouse from abundant deadfall, sisal twine, and our ingenuity. A modest affair but comfortable for 5 or perhaps 7 or more... A great place to listen to music and toke.
Our friends had asked us to teach Sociology and Pscyhology at the end of our first skills cycle.
We were eager to begin, we had no plan, we trusted that we would find our way as we went, as we had before.
Each class would have 10 students, 9 took both classes.
We each contracted with a teacher for academic credit and mentorship.
To understand how things developed you may need to get to know our school a little better first.
Or more precisely, our schoolmates.
We were in love.
We loved nearly everyone in our school, but particularly, we were in love with Alina.
This was a huge change from nearly all of our past school experiences where we were marginalized, disenfranchised, and routinely beaten up; even some of our teachers had participated in physically abusing us.
We were in Heaven.
We loved our friends.
Among our friends we had a pact, to always introduce people to LSD in a safe environment, a comfortable, stimulating place to explore.
Alcohol, marijuana, LSD, and cocaine were all very popular.
Our parties were often enormous affairs with live bands, many kegs of beer, and many ounces of dope.
LSD, peyote, mescaline, and mushrooms were often available, as were coke, speed, many kinds of pills, and heroine.
Our classes were challenging, but nearly all of us were meeting those challenges successfully, so no one was concerned about all the drugs we were doing, except, perhaps our parents.
Many of us came from homes where casual drug use was permitted or tolerated.
We came from such a home, our dad loved mingling with our tripping friends, sharing his wine and diving stories.
Our friends loved our dad, perhaps a good deal more than we seemed to at times.
Our friends helped our mom move out when she finally drew the line with our dad and said no more.
Things were good for all of us in many ways, but we are an empath, we saw below the surfaces our friends presented to each other and to ourselves, we saw past their masks.
We could see that many of our friends were feeling a lot of fear; we could see that alcohol and drugs were ways to mellow out their anxieties.
We could see that many of our friends felt alone, isolated, even in nearly pereptual good company at school or at home.
Things were wrong beneath the surface, things no one knew how to talk about, things no one really understood about themselves or about others, things we would try to explore with our friends in our new classes, Sociology and Psychology.
It becomes difficult to tell this story because we remember so little now. Many names and faces are forgotten or poorly remembered, in part, because we experience a sort of amnesia when channeling; we were channeling in our new classes again, but much differently, interactively rather than discoursing.
We eventually came to believe that drugs might really be a problem, a philosophy that our friends did not wish to embrace although we did ask them to try experimenting with life without drugs.
We tried to explain that while, on the surface, drugs give us someting to share and gather around, that too many people were all still feeling isolated, regardless of the quality of their company or their distractions.
We tried to explain that our drug experiences might be getting in the way of real social interactions on more personal and meaningful levels.
At this time we were courting our father.
Our father had been an alloof person all our lives.
We were never able to feel remotely close to our father emotionally or socially; we were not really a family in any way we considered meaningful.
Our father was courting one of his patients, he was a chiropractor.
When our father's patient politely declined to date him on several occasions he asked what she was doing and asked to join her, so that was their first date.
They went to a meeting of the Bawa Muhaiyadeen Fellowship.
Our dad promptly joined within a few meetings.
Our dad began his transformation into a faithful observant Muslim.
As we had been trying to build a new relationship with our dad we followed him into the Fellowship, a community we enjoyed and joined.
In school we were struggling to convince our friends to quit drugs with us, to try living life without the mediation of chemical filters.
Now we had a drug free community to join, so we quit drugs, thereby losing the communities of our friends.
We did not mourn too much as we had new friends to explore with.
An argument broke out in one of our classes when we asked one member to stop smoking in class.
Some said we had no right to ask because we were not asking for the sake of the health of our own lungs.
We argued that our friend's smoking was an escape mechanism.
Anyone could see her immediately disappear as soon as she lit up.
She was not participating in class while she was smoking or thinking about smoking.
We tried to apply this as an example of how drugs can alienate people from their environments and make them feel more alone.
We lost this argument, some of our students complained and our classes ended.
We had enough credits to graduate, so we dropped out of school briefly and went to work for ourselves as a carpenter and handy-man.
We drppped back into school again for the last cycle, but for some time we were living without alcohol or drugs, perhaps nearly thee years in all, that time.
There would be longer times, 20 years this last time.
We became a vegetarian; that lasted about ten years, until we came to rely on soup kitchens that did not accomodate vegetarians very well, if at all.
What we learned about sociology and psychology teaching at Alternative West took awhile to begin to emerge and become ingrained in our beliefs, those lessons we cherished and elaborated upon over the years.
We smoke pot again now. We smoke tobacco again. Both relieve us considerably of chronic, often disabling pain that has endured for over 30 years now...
But our pain is another story, for another time, perhaps...
Parts of this story currently blogged on Temple Illuminatus...
|Alina, In the Beginning, Courtship|
|Alina toward the Middle, Before a New Begining, Intimacy|
|Alternative West, Learning to Channel|
|Alternative West, Sociology and Psychology|
|Alina, In the Middle, Suicide|
|Alina, Over The Hump, Bank Robbers|
|Alina, A New Beginning, Resurrection|