High School Graduation Night, Snohomish, Washington, 1981

Near Snohomish Washington – Photo by Dan Steven Erickson

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember too much. Not because I was drinking or smoking pot, although I might have had a little, but because it was a chaperoned all-night-party more than 40 years ago. It was high-school graduation night, Snohomish, Washington, 1981.

But there is one thing I’ll never forget. It happened in the school parking lot after the busses had brought all us kids back from the party. I remember it today like it was yesterday. It was getting light out and a bunch of my classmates were going ┬áto another party, one that would be a little less supervised.

I didn’t have a car and had told my foster parents I wouldn’t need a ride because I’d planned to go to the after-party. I remember it well. I asked David English and Robert Hyry for a ride. They said, “sure.” They got into the car and I was about to get in. They told me they had to drive across the parking lot to get some stuff out of Robert’s car. They did. And then they drove off without me.

I suppose they thought I forgot about that a long time ago. But I didn’t. It was graduation night. It was mean. They were assholes. After they left, disheartened, I watched as the parking lot emptied and only a few cars remained. I asked a few people if they were going to the party but they weren’t. Finally, Glen Bowen offered me a ride home. It was out of his way and that was a cool thing of him to do.

I also remember that I left a small duffel bag of stuff in Glen’s car. It included my 1981 Snohomish High School annual. Months later, I went to see Glen but he didn’t know where that bag had wound up. I’m down to one annual. My freshman and sophomore annuals were ruined in a flood. I still have my junior annual, but it’s seen better days.

I’m not writing this short piece for sympathy. I don’t care much about any of that crap now. We were all a bunch of stupid teenagers. I have my own 18-year-old now and the memory recently resurfaced. It’s my hope that stories like this might help others to be more kind in the future.

It’s not the missed party that mattered that much to me. It was the feeling of being abandoned. Granted, I was never close friends with David or Robert. But it was graduation night, and they told me I could ride with them to the party. Instead, they drove off without me. That made me feel like a loser, like nobody liked me.

I’d already had to live in my car down a dead end road for several weeks because of bad experiences with foster parents. I’d already been shunned by others just because my parents made some bad decisions and got us in a cult.

Imagine that. I was already a kid who’d been the victim of abuse in an extreme religious cult in Snohomish, Washington. I’d spent my junior and senior years trying to feel normal, to fit in. And then two of my classmates leave me stranded. Honestly, the Class of 1980 accepted me more than many of my own classmates.

About a year ago, I moved away from Washington State. There are a dozen reasons why I moved. I know stuff like this happens everywhere. There are mean kids and bullies in any town across this country. But it happened to me in Snohomish, Washington on graduation night.

If you’d like to learn more about my past as a child victim of a cult, you can read my book A Train Called Forgiveness. It’s a slightly fictionalized account of my experience. I’m also currently working on Cult Boy, a memoir. – dse

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Author: Dan Steven Erickson

Dan Steven Erickson is a great undiscovered American songwriter.