June 1983, Massachusetts.
In the past when I became romantically involved with someone, I didn’t want to hear about their previous involvements. Suddenly I was with Karen, who was without doubt the most liberated woman I had ever encountered. A few weeks before, she was the lead teacher at the school I worked at, my boss. She thought I was sleeping with her ex lover April. I thought she was still involved with April. Now we were in a new season with April in our past. Each day I learned something new about Karen and some of those things would have intimidated me in the past.
Seven years before, while I was graduating high school, Karen was living and loving in an interracial household in Apartheid South Africa. Every aspect of her life there was illegal at the time and required extraordinary strength and courage. Perhaps I was just one in a long list of lovers for Karen, but it didn’t matter. I was having the time of my life. “I didn’t know you could do that in Atlantic waters”, I laughed. We were at the beach in back of my apartment in Lanesville, a secluded place only our neighbors and friends knew about. Nestled in Karen’s arms I felt pretty warm despite the coolness of the waters. Karen was from Wisconsin, used to frozen lake water. This was mild by Comparison…
She gave me a black beret from Czechoslovakia with a “baby Lenin” pin on it. Karen was the only one I had worked with who knew I had been a member of Workers World Party & Youth Against War & Fascism from 1980 to 1982. I left the party after the Soviet repression of the Polish trade union Solidarity. It seemed insane to me that an organization saying it supported socialism would support anyone cracking down on a union. I was disappointed and disillusioned with what had occurred but still admired Lenin and Che Guevara and was more concerned with resisting Reagan than worrying about what was screwed up on the other side of the world. Cool thing about Karen…you could have these great analytical discussions before or after an intimate encounter in the kitchen…on the beach…under a park bench, anywhere the summer winds took us.