I was 12 years old when we moved to the Catskill Mountains in New York State. From the age of 12, until I left New York at age 17 and moved to San Mateo, California, my father and I lived as roommates. There was a co-existence that we shared for all my teen years rather than a father/son relationship. We played board games together and my father was one of my best friends. I was not very focusing on school. I did not study or do my homework so my father had the idea that if I moved in with my older and wiser sister, Robin in California, perhaps I'd finish high school. My sister agreed, and I was on a plane flying to California ten days later.
Thrust into a new existence in California, I found my world was very different very quickly. I went from being a pothead, trailer park resident in the mountains surrounded by endless forests and streams and my world had been up till now been working in Catskill hotels doing just about everything one could imagine, to now suddenly living in a major metropolitan area where I knew no one. I went from a high school of less than 1000 students to a high school with over 3,000 students. I left a place where I took a bus to school 20 miles each way where I stood in the wind and snow each morning to arriving in a tropical land where I could walk to school, there was mass transit and a much more diverse school with drama classes, wood and metal shops, apparently gay teachers and a security guard walking the halls.
California was exciting and dynamic and so expanding. I had never before found myself drinking champaign on New Years Eve in a sunk-in living room in Hillsborough, or taking bay cruises and hanging out with friends who had cars their parents leased for them and credit cards their parents gave them. It was a whole new world I had never experienced before.
When I returned to NY ten months later after high school was finished I found my father was living with the wife of his best friend. They were dating and for the first time in six or more years there was a mother-figure in my home again. My home wasn't mine anymore and I didn't stay long. My close relationship with my father seemed to break apart as he went on with his life in his new marriage. I was happy for him. Up until then, in my mind I always saw myself opening an old-age home for retired magicians. Now that burden was off my shoulders. Arlene and my father shared 28+ years together. I visited them often, but they went on to live at hotels working as the activities directors and social staff as my father went through his 60's and I didn't always have a place to stay with them when I visited regionally - so I didn't visit as often. Later when they got a bit older, they moved to Arizona for the heat and they lived there for a long spell. In the end they finally ended up in Wisconsin living near Arlene's daughter for a few last remaining years of their happy life together.
My travels took me back and forth between California and NY. 10 months of High school in CA, eight months back in NY, then I returned to CA and went to horseshoeing school. Yes, my first degree was as a certified farrier, even redneck cowboys respect that title. I went back to NY and worked in the hotels for two more years after getting my Farrier's Certification, then I decided to focus in and I actually began going to college. Colleges on the East Coast were expensive. Residents of California in the early 80's got free Community College admission so after attempting to get a few credits in NY and PA, I headed back to California in November, 1981.
I needed to live in CA for a year to be considered a resident and get free tuition. To make a living I became a street performer in San Francisco. It happened by accident. I went to audition at the Cannery Shopping Mall Stage and the auditions were not happening that day. Michael Davis was on a two week vacation. I had brought my nephew with me and we had bought lunch. I then discovered I didn't have enough money to get my car out of the parking lot I had parked in. I had a bag of balloons with me and I met a pair of street balloon clowns, Steve and Paul. They showed me how to put my hat on the ground, bark in a child and make a tip. I made my first hat of $8 blowing animals. I'd call them in with my patter:
"Hi Georgious! this one's for you. Don't worry. I trust you"
I told people, "I give good balloon" and so began the next chapter of my life. For the next six years i made balloons, developed my magic act and got my two-year degree in Broadcasting at City College of San Francisco. This was the first full and dramatic metamorphosis that took place as I began turning into ... my father.