oh my head

08/21/2023 0 By BuddyCushman

Back there in ’84 and ’85 I was working for a place called The Drug and Alcohol Resource Program in Stoneham, Massachusetts. A good chunk of my weekly time was spent in a gifted space in the guidance offices at North Reading High School, about 10 miles north. I’d show up two or three times a week for a few hours and students would drift in – be referred by a teacher or guidance counselor, come in with a friend, do anything to get out of class, just show up. I had a lot of repeaters, and the fact is many of them meant a lot to me, had and continue to have an influence on me. It’s always felt like a real important time in my life.

Two young women always came in together. I don’t remember their names, like I do many of the others noted above. This pair were kind of isolated and different from the freaks and druggies, hipsters, and laid-back cats most often hanging out with me. These two would tell me things like they walked down the middle of the road, cars going by this way and that, cause they felt more alive then. School sucked, you know, and life in general was a bummer. One of them had a saying: “Oh my head.” She said it all the time. I came to understand that it had not much to do with headaches or normal cranial stuff. Rather, it was more vast than that. All inclusive. Oh my life. Oh my moments. Oh my disbelief at what passes for normal. Oh my head.

I absorbed that saying into the entirety of my life, and have been saying it, pretty much on a daily basis, and multiple times many of those days, since. Nearly 40 years. Oh my head. I started saying it – cause I do – in the early days of Ann and I, and she’d wonder what the heck I was talking about. Now it’s been 10 months, and Ann can regularly be heard to say, “Oh my head.” And then there’s her grandson Logan, all of three years of wildness and coolness and physical-ness and, it seems, zen-ness. I must have said it on a visit, and then another, and then another. Ann told me this morning Logan spent a lot of last Friday, with his mom and dad and grandmom, saying “Oh my head.”

It’s cool how stuff travels through the world. At least to me it is. I suspect those two North Reading girls would be happy. Proud even. Someone else, not quite traveling within the mainstream, digging their lingo. Which may be Logan, and no doubt, includes me.