The Green House

May 1980 must’ve been really exciting.GreenHouse1

While there’s no journal for that year, both calendar-planners from that time are packed with entries nearly every day.

I’d switched to green ink in my favorite calligraphy pen, noting “to do’s,” Lakewood Community College events, such as the annual spring festival (oddly named “Woodduck”), and all my midterm exams and final assignment due dates.

And I’ll never forget the times I walked to school after missing the city bus. I didn’t mind, actually, trekking around the Mahtomedi side of White Bear Lake in the spring. There was a tiny Carbone’s pizzeria on the corner of Juniper Street and Mahtomedi Avenue, a gas station, and houses hugging the shoreline.

One such house was a large two-storey place that I called “The Green House.”

It was actually white with green shutters, but the overall impression was not what the house looked like on the outside, but how I imagined the lives on the inside.

In the Green House was a family with three daughters. That’s all I knew. I was well aware of my inspiration’s source—old love interest Linda Fahlin, who was youngest of three girls in her family. But in the story I focused on the oldest, who remains nameless. I’m fairly certain there’s no draft extant, about which I fantasized blossoming into a novel.

Of course that’s an ass-backward way to approach a story; I can see that now.

But when you’re 20 years old, curious about the world and imagining a bigger life, then an unshakable egotistical foundation comes with the territory. The idea was great in that it took me out of myself for a while: the family was the focus. I was merely an observer from afar—just a lone college kid walking by the Green House on a sunny May morning.

GreenHouseCalIt was a creatively exciting time for me. I was flinging the story net wide. More writing appeared in the Lakewood student newspaper, The Logue. My Second Thoughts column follow-up to “On Life Violently Lived” was a shorter piece titled “On Drinking Milk.” New characters and stories grew out of my experiences back on Lake Minnetonka.

It was almost like living in a parallel world.

That spring, there were back-to-back rock concerts in town: The Who on Friday, May 2, and Fleetwood Mac the following Friday night at the old Met Center. I asked old Shamineau girlfriend Deeann to Fleetwood Mac, but noted on Tuesday, May 6, that she had “called to say [she couldn’t] make [it].” So I turned to high school buddy Geoff Morrison, who bought my other ticket. He came out to White Bear Lake, where we had a brief party at the 61 Pine Street rental before the show. Later that Saturday I went home to the Family Project for the rest of the weekend.

It was my brother’s senior year in high school. The Mound Westonka Class of ’80 prom went down Saturday, May 17. I was back in White Bear Lake gearing up for spring finals and awaiting a “special issue” of The Logue hitting college newsstands. Thinking of summer employment, I called Campbell Mithun ad agency to see about internships. Had that worked out, the course of my life might’ve been entirely different.

At 1:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 6, the calendar-planner states: “Dr. Gerster: my copy of Creative Evolution.”

You see, that quarter I’d enrolled in Dr. Patrick Gerster’s Introduction to Philosophy course. Gerster was a tall, sardonic and soft-spoken man who bore a striking resemblance to The Who’s Pete Townshend. I recall he’d made a wry comment on my midterm essay exam about my positing God as a “divine Watering Can,” much to his amusement. When he saw me with a copy of Henri Bergson’s Creative Evolution, he asked if he could borrow it.My beautiful picture

End-of-college-year energy was building as that May wound down. After Memorial Day weekend, it was final exams and packing up things for the journey back to the Little Renovated Summer Cottage on Casco Point.

On the verge of summer 1980, I had no idea the Family Project’s own “Green House” would be up for sale … and we’d be leaving the lake forever.

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~ by completelyinthedark on June 20, 2014.

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