Saturday, June 20, 2009


This makes three in a year. Dear Stewart Allingham. Some other guy whose name escapes me, and now the most painful: AUNT CAROLYN MARYCHILD.

Let me tell you a couple things about Aunt Carolyn. More than a couple. She was the coolest, patchouli smelling, San Francisco dwelling Hippette a youngster could ever have met. Especially one who was just plain weird growing up. When I was really young, she told me that all the chaos in my immediate world was not my fault. She accidentally blabbed that I was adopted (some years later) by my father, which made life a hell of a lot clearer to me. She dated this black guy with an afro and his crazy Irish Setter named Kubla; they drove around in a VW Van, chasing the Grateful Dead hither and yon. She changed her name last name from Curtis to Marychild to honor her Mother, because her father had died before she was born. And she didn't change it, even after she married Uncle Rick. She was, after all, still A Child of Mary. Magdalene. Curtis. I swear.

When I was old enough to travel alone (say, oh, about 8), I'd stay with Aunt Carolyn in her flat on Dolores, near the Haight in San Francisco. I can still smell the musky scent of insensce, marijuana, sex. I remember the odd bits of mysterious Eastern bric-a-brac, the female erotica hanging on the wall, her really cool record collection. The bay windows that wouldn't open. The funky ass fridge with the funky ass shit she ate in it. She took me to the Palace of Fine Arts, the windmill at the edge of Golden Gate Park, The Palace of the Legion of Honor, which became my fave museum of all time.

She took me to see my first Bergman Film, FANNY AND ALEXANDER.

She was the first person to tell me that if I was gay, it was OK.

When I was like, oh, 14, she left me alone for the day, gave me some spending money, put me on a bus and sent me to The Castro. How cool is that? In five years I'd be living there.

She and Rick had been married for a while, I was all grown up, and I'd spend weekends with them in Vacaville, a suburb outside of Sacramento. Now, Uncle Rick was a really cool guy. He had this wicked sense of humour, and a naughty cackle to match. Plus he had the best stash box ever! They took me to a Grateful Dead Show. It was a really warm night, and we were completely stoned (like, who wasn't), though I didn't really dig the music, I got swept up in the atmosphere. Then, like magic, a tangerine moon rose above an open air stage.

Once, tripping HARD on a mix of X and coke in Guerneville, on the Russian River, I called Aunt Carolyn collect and told her I was FAAAAH-REEEEKING OUT! She stayed on the phone with me for what seemed like forever, reminding me that it's only a drug, it will pass through you. Well, it finally did, but all in front of the local Safeway Market, hanging on a pay phone.

Then I got HIV. Then it turned to AIDS. Then I moved to Southern California.

Then we lost contact.

Until recently.

She googled me, and up came this blog.

We emailed. She called me her dear tender-hearted nephew of mine. I told her what she had done to make my life what it is today.

Aunt Carolyn died on June 10th.

I love you Aunt Carolyn.

And don't tell me you can't hear me, because I KNOW you believed...



Wow. She was really cool. I'll never forget her way cool pad above Lake Merrit. I'm so sorry to hear she's gone to the great Patchouli patch in the sky. But, you can bet she's stringing love beads and finding her inner space right now!

Anonymous said...

What an extraordinary lady! ... and what an extraordinary nephew you are. I loved your memorial to her. In a funny way it reminded me of well, me. I am now a grandmother and constantly being told to grow up! I'm happy and do whatever I can to others feel it too. Take care hun! xx Patchoulirose