By 1976, after two years of trying my best to find a path towards normalcy, I had made a small life for myself.
In addition to keeping my position as a flight attendant traveling to Europe, South and Central America and around the states, I continued being active with painting, dance and church. I also began exploring my interests in the outdoors.
During the summers, I kayaked with my brother's wife Carol, following her lead like a lemming. I wasn't an accomplished kayaker and had little experience in white water but loved seeing the eagles, deer and beavers along the river. The combined tranquility and excitement of moving through water captivated my senses. One minute I'd be in blissful harmony with the earth. The next, aghast at seeing a large water snake heading for my paddle. When Russel and Carol got divorced, I found myself hung up in a fallen tree in the middle of West Virginia hoping the surging current wouldn't sink and trap me on the cold bottom. The experience was eye opening and I soon listed my kayak for sale. My death wish from several years prior had clearly moved on.
During the winters, I drove to astronomy club meetings at Manassas Battlefield Park twenty miles from Warrenton and admired the mid-night sky through my Celestron 8 telescope with the help of a thirteen year old sky watcher named Andrew. I learned to identify the constellations that had previously seemed amorphous and could pick out planets and know how to track them. I watched Orion patiently hovering over head, the Pleiades twinkle in and out of vision, and of course the Big Dipper looking grand and almost tangible, waiting to scoop out a drink of water for a thirsty sky god. The calmness of watching the galaxy of stars grounded me. Such a different experience from the nights in San Francisco when they zoomed inside my head, pulling me into an outer space that was dark, dangerous and all consuming.
With Dr. Lebensohn's support I sought out what it was that interested me. Because of his encouragement, I wanted to be open to new experiences and activities. At first the challenge was confusing. I was still used to thinking I should do what others did, what was typical among my friends and neighbors. But I wasn't typical and they didn't seem to be doing much other than being involved in the demands of work and families. But soon I learned to trust my instincts. I began to look beyond the confines of my former life and pounce on activities that triggered an impulse in me to find out more.
What I didn't pounce on were relationships with men. Dr. Lebensohn hadn't encouraged it, explaining the importance of working on myself before getting involved in another. Considering how self absorbed I had to be to figure out who I was, it made sense. I remember distinctly the day he said "Miss Goin, you cannot hate half the human race." So my inclination was to learn to trust the other half at a distance. And I did, but only barely. My difficult past was still an active part of who I was.
To be continued ...