On March 2, 1974, forty three years ago today, I arrived in California to stay. I left my family and friends in the suburbs of Detroit to “find myself.” That’s what people were doing in the ‘70s, “finding themselves.” The decade itself was dubbed the Me Decade by many. I include a link to an article on Wikipedia about the Me Decade and how it came to be.
To quote from the article, “The term "Me Decade" describes a general new attitude of Americans in the 1970s, in the direction of atomizedindividualism and away from communitarianism, in clear contrast with social values prevalent in the United States during the 1960s.[3” This seems to be a apt description of the 70s and, I expect, I myself at that time as I explored who I was and what I wanted in life during my 20s.
In the 70s, I attended college while working parttime to support myself. I went to Wayne State in Detroit for two years before moving to California. The big university experience left me cold. At that time it was mostly a commuter school and I worked nights. So I never really connected to the university community there.
When I moved to Riverside, I attended classes at Riverside City College, a two year institution. I transferred to California State College (now University) at San Bernardino and graduated in ’78. All that while working ¾ time at JC Penney.
In my quest to “find myself”, I tried therapy, support groups and disco. I think disco actually helped me find myself more than any other form of therapy. Those were interesting days. But I didn’t discover the discotheque until early 1976. It was Ground Hog’s Day. A Saturday night. I finally summoned up the courage to enter the nondescript building where the Grand Central was housed in San Bernardino. It was here I found my “tribe”. It was here I finally accepted who I was as a gay man.
So I guess 43 years ago today I set out to atomically individualize myself and found my way to communitarianism, as described above. I nice round circle of sorts. And now, 43 years later, I remember the day I moved to California as the day I found myself.
If we are lucky we find ourselves and like who we find. Took a while, but I do...like myself that is.
And that is why this date marks a special anniversary for me and in my own way, I celebrate.
Click here to read more about the Me Decade.