When I was 25, my life was an absolute mess! I didn't know myself very well, and as a result turned to self destructive behavior. I was either drunk, high on drugs, or both pretty much all the time. I believed I was a failure, and felt alone, and unlovable.
Then one day I figured out what I needed to do, so I grabbed a back pack, my guitar, and boarded a Grey Hound bus for South Carolina. My plan was to hang out with some friends who were living in Clemson with another friend who was going to school there.
More partying ensued, and it wasn't long before I realized what I REALLY wanted to do was find a woman I'd fallen in love with during the summer, who was living in a town called Willits in Northern California. After hanging out there for 3 days, it was obvious that last summer was last summer, so I began hitch hiking to San Francisco. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.
I was homeless and unhappy with the predicament I was in. Living in Golden Gate Park with an assortment of people who's issues were more serious than my own. I was sincerely bummed out. The morning after I found out I was sleeping in the same spot where someone had their head cut off a few months earlier, I began looking for a way to get off the streets in earnest.
That's when I ran into a guy who told me he was living with a radical social group called the White Panthers. He also told me that if I wanted to, I could live there too. The small catch was that I would need to work in their food co-op to justify my room and board. I jumped at the opportunity, and in no time , found myself living on Haight Street with 8 or 10 other folks, where we had breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day, while working in the co-op, providing cheap groceries to poor people.
I was unaware of what I was getting involved in for the first few days. Then I noticed some of the leaders of this group seemed particularly paranoid. They had video surveillance going on around the outside of the house, and the street out front 24/7. They would talk to each other about their absolute disdain for the police, and had several guns locked up in the room closest to the front of the house. And I was told early on that the head guy, who's name was T.C. had done time in prison for manslaughter involving a cop!
It was the same thing 6 days of the week. Awakened at 6:00 AM and given breakfast. Then we would drive by van to a different house where the co-op was located. We'd work until lunch time, and after a short break, back to work until evening. We'd get back at around 7, have dinner, and go to bed after getting very stoned on joints. Pretty mundane... Then one day, all of us who weren't initiated, were informed that something was going to be happening involving the cops, and we were sent out with a few dollars each. being told not to return until dark.
This is where it got really weird. I went directly to a pub up the street and began drinking beer. After I'd been there for a few hours, the van driver came in, and we began talking. He made light of the seriousness of the White Panthers, and I jumped right on board. Before you know it I was making disparaging comments about the group, going so far as suggesting they change their name to the Pink Panties. Shortly after, the driver left.
Apparently, he went directly back to the house and told them everything I said. He was a plant! I know this because my one and only trusted friend came to the bar and told me. He also told me it would probably be a good idea if I just stayed away from the house. T.C. was pissed! The big problem was that my guitar was back at the house, and there was no way I was going to leave that behind.
I gave things 24 hours for cooler heads to prevail, then I took the risk of going back. T.C. was there. He told me that it was in my own best interest that I leave San Francisco altogether, hinting that a bad accident might happen to me if I didn't. He handed me my guitar, and I left.... San Francisco.