Sunday, January 11, 2009

Leif - Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico - Fall 1990 -Spring 1991 - Age 16

In Puerto Rico, where Leif lived from July 1990 to July 1992, Leif really blossomed. It was there that he let his hair grow luxuriously long, where he sang the part of Kenicke in the musical Grease, where he played in a rock band (briefly), took electric guitar lessons, became a SCUBA diver, designed and made his own guitar, and had a group of wonderful friends, Ricky, Lenny, Jill, Becky, Clarissa, Janice, and many more whose names I can't remember tonight.

One of these photos is a school photo, one was taken in our home, and the one where he is stripped to the waist was taken in our back yard on April 19, 1991 when he was throwing a birthday party for one of this friends. I think it was Lenny. He looked like Tarzan and he was having a blast. Note the signature Oakley sunglasses hanging around his neck, even though it was getting dark outside.

It was hard for Leif to leave Puerto Rico. Although he had some tough times when he first got there being accepted (as the new "gringo"), he made good friends and was active and involved. He fell in love the first time, and he gained a sense of himself as a virile young man.

Leaving to go to Kansas, to an unfamiliar culture (the Midwestern culture he had left behind when he was only an year-and-a-half old), and being basically an introvert until he knew people well, it was a big loss to him to leave Puerto Rico.

I love the photo of him out in the back yard with his hair flowing, looking mischievous. That's one of the ways I would like to remember him. I remember a particular day when he was out there, in our backyard circled by 29 palm trees, using a machete to clear brush. He picked up a large coconut that had fallen from one of the palms and whacked off the end of it with the machete, stabbed the machete into it, and held it high above his head, allowing the coconut liquid to pour down into his mouth. He really did look like Tarzan. How I wish I had a photo of that.

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