A Full Life
I’ve lived more in the 43 years that I have been on this earth then most will ever live in a lifetime. I’ve been wanting to write this memoir for years now and have finally slowed down enough to take a deep breath and get my journey down in writing. My hope is to leave this to the future generations of my family so that they will know where I came from, who I am and what I am really passionate about.
I thought about how to put this all together as so much has happened in the past 4 decades that I can hardly keep track of it all so I figured cronological order would be best.
In the beginning
I was born in 1972 at Albert Einstein hospital in the Bronx, NY. alongside my twin brother, Dylan Sean Boxer. My parents are Ellen Sue Boxer, formerly Ellen Sue Jacobs and now Mirayam Licht. My father was Lawrence (Larry Hugh Boxer). I’ll get into the family geneology later and layout as much family as I can remember. My mom’s parents were Ann Jacobs and Max (Meyer) Jacobs. My dads parents were Jesse Boxer and Barbara Boxer.
My earliest memories were from the age of about 4. We lived in a small house in Coram, NY. I have random memories of playing in our back yard, eating squash flowers dipped in egg that my father made. I remember being in the car with my father going to the grocery store, the dentist and to the local swimming pool.
I remember being dropped off at a neighbors house as both my parents were out of town. I could feel something wasn’t right and at 4 years old I could feel a dark cloud over my life. Then the day came. This day forever changed the whole course of my life and I’ll never forget it.
I remember my mother sitting me and my brother down. We were 5 or maybe 6 years old. Guys, your father and I are splitting up. Separating. Do you want to come with me or go with your father? Seriously? At 5 or 6 I am going to make that kind of decision? I don’t remember the decision being difficult. It was mom that we dedided to stay with. My parents ended up divorcing and my mother remarrying Dr. Leonard Abraham Licht.
Leonard was a psychologist and had met my mother in India at the Rajneesh Ashram. Both my mother and father were into Rajneesh. He was a great teacher with over a million followers all across the globe.
The whole thing was kind of weird. Everyone wore Orange. Anyway, we ended up in a van with my mothers new husband and traveled all the way to California where we lived for over a year. We then came back to North Carolina in 1978 and lived in a mansion at Samercand Manor in Eagle Springs, NC. I had great memories in that house. It was the first time that I had my very own bedroom. The house had 4 fireplaces, 9 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms and was very old. Behind the house sat a lake.
I have memories of fishing, canoeing, sledding and busting out some of the windows in the house with rocks. I also remember being in Kindergarden or first grade and having a teacher pull down my pants and spanking me with a ruler. I can’t remember what for, but I’ll never forget it. While in North Carolina, my mother had my sister (Sasha Mariah Licht).
A few years passed and in 1980 we moved to Maui, Hawaii. This is where the real adventure begins. This is where my life was really formed and has helped make me who I am today.
Shortly after moving there, we all took a trip to India for a month. My father had been living on Osho’s Ashram in Pune for several years. We had not seen him in a few years. I have fond memories of Pune as well as disturbing ones. While the Ashram was opulent, the surrounding areas were full of poverty. My father was busy and I remember spending very little time with him while we were there. My mother had gotten real sick while we were there. She had to be hospitalized for a few weeks and our Visa’s were expiring. All of us except my mom went back to Maui. She returned home a few weeks later.
The Year was 1980
We had moved to Maui and lived with some of my parents friends for a few weeks in the quiet surfing town of Paia. Very artsy place and close to world famous Hookipa Park. From there, we found a house in Makawao. It was a mansion built by the late Dr. Bonzi. The place had like 8 bedrooms, 2 kitchens, 6 bathrooms and 6 acres of citrus trees and other tropical plants.
My brother and I attended Makawao high school during my 2nd grade year. Our home was right next to the school so we walked. I have memories of playing marbles and flipping carboard milk tops. It was like a form of currency and status at the time. Whoever had the rarest and most was king.
In 1981 we moved to an A-Frame house up West Kuiaha Rd. in Haiku.
We Planted over 50 varieties of banana trees on the property. The house was across the street from 500 acres of Dole’s pineapple fields. My brother and I frequently took our BMX Mongoose’s into the irrigation ditches between the pineapple beds. We named them (Rocky road 1, Rocky road 6, etc..)
I used to hook up with my friend, John Calabrese on our Mongoose bikes and ride in the Pineapple fields and all over Haiku where we lived. We would visit Stubbs Farm up West Kuiaha road for fresh chicken eggs.
Life was great during this time. We attended Haiku school, played soccer on the worst team ever and had a sense of freedom I had never experienced before. Days were filled with hikes into the mountains, jumping off waterfalls, Surfing down irrigation canals and netting crawfish.
Some of my friends while living in Haiku were Syama and Narada O’Conner, Kimo Ventura and Jordan Stark. We did a lot together. Traveling the roads around Haiku on a bike was awesome. There were lots of long rolling hills, everything was very lush and green. Some of my fondest adventures took place here.
We used to slide down this huge grass field on boogie boards. Running over rocks, boulders and small tree’s I swear we did 30-40 MPH. Thinking back, it probably was not the smartest idea as we were NOT wearing helmets.
The Island was my oyster. It was also around this time that I got my first surfboard. I’ll never forget it.
My step father brought me home one of Justin Roberson’s boards. Leonard treated Justin for depression. It was a 4ft 10inch Town&Country Thruster.
I first used this board at Hookipa Beach Park on the North end of Maui. Hookipa is a world renouned Kite Surfing and Wind Surfing Park. Some of the biggest waves on the island roll in there. Not far from there is Pe’ahi, also called Jaws where some of the biggest waves on the planet roll in. As a kid, we used to watch those waves, way before people would even dare surf them. Now, its tow in only. Very serious waves. Big Sharks and deep water. If you wipe out there, you may not live to tell about it. It’s that dangerous. Reserved only for the most experienced surfers.
Not too long after, the bad news came in……….
In 1981 my mother pulled my brother and I aside and broke the news. Our father had lukemia and only had a few weeks to live. He was now living at a commune called Gheetam in Lucerne Valley, California. He ran the commune. It was an extension of Osho’s ashram. At the time it was all about loving others, experimenting with psychadelic drugs and living in community style where everyone pitches in.
So my mother flew me and my brother out to California to say goodbye to our father. His twin brother (My uncle Elliott) and his sister (Aunt Rosalie) met us there. I’ll never forget walking into that hospital room. Just a year earlier we had seen a vibrant and healthy dad and now…. He had gone through heavy Chemo, had no hair, lost a ton of weight and lay dying. A few days later he passed away. At 8 years old, it was hard to process. His wishes were that his ashes be planted at Gheetam under a tree.
We returned to Maui and life went on. Yes there was an emptiness in my heart and thinking back, I was still just a kid and it didn’t really register. The love I felt from my mother and step father was deep. While we were not rich in material things, our family was rich in love. There isn’t a day that has passed, that I haven’t thought about my father. I think the hardest part of not having him around happened in my adult life. Not being able to bounce things off of your father as an adult changes the person you are in a sense. Now, I just long for the day when we meet again in heaven.
My step father, Dr. Leonard Licht worked for the State as a Clinical Psychologist. He was very good at what he did and helped alot of troubled children on the Island. He was called in if there was a suicide attempt, family abuse and things of that sort. He even took in one of his patients kids as a foster. His name was Drew Thurston. We called him Wiz. Wiz, his mother Lucia and sister Halelujah lives in Hualo in a jungle house. I’m not kidding you. You needed a 4×4 just to get to the place.
It was nestled in the jungle of Maui. The house had few windows and was open to the surroundings. Pretty cool place, however rather damp in the rainy season. They had parrots that roamed the jungle as well as a few other homing birds that always came home. They had a waterfall in their backyard as well. Pretty special place. It had electricity and a generator as when the electric went out on that part of the island (and it did often), they could crank up that generator and not be in the dark.
We roamed old japanese dams that were built at the turn of the century. We roamed the jungle of North Maui. Hana vana area. We walked through the most beautiful meadows down to the ocean. It really was a fantasy land. I felt like I was roaming through hobbit land. Wiz and I were true adventurer’s. Wiz actually died a long time ago. He fell into the ocean when a lava tube collapsed. He was doing what he loved, taking pictures of the lava flows at Kila’uea Volcano. Another family friend Nagar, died in the same way.
It’s funny how when you are going through amazing parts of your life, at the time you may not realize just how amazing it was until later, when looking back… You realize you should have savvored the moment a little more when you had it.
The Fire that almost killed my brother
One day, our parents were out and like kids we were always getting into mischief. Behind our bathroom in the house was a crawl space. It was enclosed by sliding shelves. We decided to pull the shelves out, had my brother crawl in and I enclosed him in there by putting the makeshift wall and shelves back in. I then went under the house (It was built on cinder blocks and posts), lit a candle and through a small hole I passed it up into the crawlspace to my brother. The candle dropped onto fiber glass in the enclosed room with my brother and it started a fire.
I remember hauling ass back into the house, ripping off the shelves to let my brother out and running to grab the fire extinguisher. As I went to pull on the trigger, I remembered that I had tested it a while back, didn’t put the pin back in and it was out of foam. Crap. We went outside and yelled for help. Within 10 minutes we had the neighbors there, a firetruck and the flames were put out. The bathroom was burnt to a crisp as well as part of our kitchen.
That was the last memory I had of living there. We then moved to a beachhouse on the South side of the island in Maalaea bay (our new paradise). We had our own beach, a japanese garden and access to the fastest left breaking wave in the world (Freight trains).
I was now in 6th grade going to Iao school. I started surfing every day. It was my new passion. While at school, the only thing I could think about was how big the waves were and how much longer until I could get home to go surfing. Of all things in my life, surfing was the biggest challenge and I got the most satisfaction from learning at an early age. It was like a whole new world when I paddled out.
There were many times that I would paddle out right from our house. It was about 1000 yard paddle over to The Wall or Freight Trains. When the waves were pumping it was super shallow on the inside so you had to be careful when wiping out for flying off the lip of the wave upon exit and diving in the water. Once I dove head first into coral and sliced my eyebrow open. This happened at age 15 and at 43 the scar is still there.
A lot of the time, it was just me out there. Just me, sharks, eels and gorgeous waves. 6th grade through 8th grade were a total blur. Summers were spent in New York with my grandparents and the other part of the year, school and surfing. Then it came. High School. I had the privelage of attending one of only Public High Scholls on the Island, Baldwin High (AKA Henry Perine Baldwin High).
It was a rough school mixed with Hawaiians, Tongans, Phllipinos, Japanese, Taiwanese and Ha’ole’s (White folks like me.) There has always been a sense of hostility between the Hawaiians and Causasean’s. In High School, there were bathrooms that you did not go in during lunch. It was known. Why? That is where Big Hawaiians also called Moke’s, would beat a white kid to a pulp and no one who say anything. Dangerous.
There was even a spot at the front of the school called the Haole Hut. Its where me and my friends hung out. We were a minority. I got my liscence my freshman year as soon as I turned 15. My first car was a Volkswagon Squareback. It wasn’t much but it was mine. That car didn’t last too long. I remember 1 day coming home from Kihei to Maalaea I got it up to 110 MPH. Little did I know, I was low on oil. Blew the engine.
Next car I got was a 68 VW bug. Lowered with Centerline Rims, weber carborator, small steering wheel, hurst shifter and panoramic mirror. It was a sweet ride. One day, the car broke down at school. I left it there for 2 too many days. I come into school on the bus Monday morning and the principle is waiting for me as I get off. He takes me to the side of the school and too my anguish, there it was.
My bug, up on cinderblocks, stripped down. Whoever did this, threw sand in the engine block to make sure that car didn’t run again. It was a brutal blow and clearly done by phillipino’s that didn’t like the fact that a Haole was riding around in a suped up Bug. The principle gave me the day off from school that day.
The next car I had was a piece of crap Subaru 2 door. This thing had one of the front lights ducktaped on and the hood was held down with a coat hanger. If only that car could talk. After a few weeks of driving this thing, the brakes went out. I drove that car for months with the emergency brake. Sometimes I’d be cruising down the road and the hood would fly up and blind me, smashing into the windshield. I’d have to stop, resecure fairly often.
I must have had angels looking after me. I remember doing Hell Mary’s through intersections praying I didn’t get sideswiped. The most notorious hill was the one that comes down from Seabury Hall down into Makawao. It was a steep hill and the emergency brake didn’t do anything, so anytime I was going down that hill, I’d just go for it. Luckily, I never got hit.
Life was never dull on the Island. My friends and I used to do some real crazy shit. We would take our skateboards, have someone take us up country to crater road. We would strap on pieces of tire to the bottom of our sneakers and fly down crater road, our backs on skateboards, no helmet, no pads, just feeling free as the wind. If you havent ever been down crater road on a full moon lying on your back, flying around hairpin 180 turns, you haven’t lived yet.
If you have never hit a cattle guard in the road doing 30 on a skateboard, you don’t know what a pain in the ass is. Brutal. Happened to me once at 15. Never again. I always watched out for them and knew exactly where they were by watching mile marker signs. Someone had named us the Haaleakala Crater Skaters and is still mentioned today.
During this time, my best friend Jordan became privvy of a huge marijuana grow up in Kula, in fact over the course of months, 3 seperate marijuana patches. Being the kids we were, we waited till full moon and went in with machettes and trashbags. We crawled through dense brush and boom. An acre field of 12 ft plants. At first site they were not ready for harvest quite yet so we took only what we wanted for personal smoke for a year. Needless to say, we pulled away with a trunk full. I’ll never forget heading down kula hwy with a trunk filled with weed. Somehow I was able to sneak it into my room and hung it to dry in my closet.
We regularly would come across patches like this back in the mid 1980’s. It was being grown all over the island. We used to charge tourists $500 to take them into the patch. We would let them take pictures, however, we would only let them take what they could hold in their hands.
Pot back in the 1980’s on Maui, was everywhere. Everyone smoked it, it was being grown everywhere.
Towards the end of the summer, too many people found out about the spot and Green Harvest (Hawaii’s Marijuana Police), harvested every last plant out of there and burned it.
I took life one day at a time back then. I was living a really free life with little worries and a lot of joy and happiness.
At the end of the summer of 1988, the shit hit the fan. I had missed several court dates for traffic infractions, truancy and some other charges and the State was not happy. They told my mother that she had 2 choices. Either my brother and I could leave the State until after our 18th birthday or…. We could spend that time in juvenile deliquent facility until we were 18.
Needless to say, she went with option 1. At this time, My Uncle Bobby and Aunt Sue (My mothers brother) had just purchased a beautiful home in Yorktown Heights, NY in Westchester county. My grandparents flew out to Maui and took us both back to NY.
I didn’t want to go. I remember being pissed and sad. I think my brother was too but honestly it saved his life and probably mine too. While Maui was a kids playground, it was also dangerous. There are places on Maui that can swallow you whole. There are steep cliffs, lava tubes and a huge ocean surrounding the island with nothing around for 6000 miles other than the Hawaiian Islands. You go adrift in the Pacific ocean, chances of someone finding you are slim.
I’ve seen riptides at Makena Beach on the south side of the Island take people from the shallows of the beach to being swept out to sea via strong currents. Anyway, back to to NY.
We started our 11th grade year at Yorktown Highschool in Westchester, NY. (Go Cornhuskers). It was strange. Almost everyone there had grown up together and here were these two kids replanted from Maui. Big culture shock. We made it through highscool and graduated.
We ended up getting an apartment in Yorktown Heights. I went off to college at SUNY Cobleskill and my brother stayed home and worked at BOCES. The first two years of college were a blast. I met the people that would become my best friends today. Lost a few of them along the way as well.
Cobleskill was nestled in the Catskill mountains and surrounded by farms. Small cozy school, I lived in Dix Hall for those 2 years and broke my teeth into college life. I remember The Pony, Creekside, Shennanigans and Bens Den as the bars we used to frequent. Days were filled with school, bong hits and partying on the weekends. After 2 years at Coby, I transferred to SUNY Plattsburgh.
Plattsburgh is where I grew up a little :-). I lived in Kent hall. One of my first roomates and still best friend today was Darren Wodzinski. I also met Dave Scerbo, Kyle Done and a few others living in that dorm. I lived there for a year and moved into 9 Williams with 9 guys, most of who I ended up pledging TKE with. I have to say that being in a fraternity was the farthest thing from my mind when I got to P-burgh, however ended up being one of the best things I EVER did with my life in college.
It taught me how to be organized, it taught me respect and hooked me into a brotherhood of really cool guys. My last two years I lived in the TKE house which back then was 68 broad street.
I lived with Jake Morton, Tony Desjardins, Dave Scerbo, John Salzman and Rob Garceau in Apt. 9. We had a blast.
College at P-Burgh was way different than Cobleskill. It was a bigger campus, much colder in the winter and a LOT more parties.
I remember 100 Keg parties back in the early 90’s and I’m sure bigger before. Greek life was awesome . I met a lot of really cool people during my years in Plattsburgh. It was here that I turned from boy into man in all of about 4 years. It took me 6-1/2 years to get out of college, however, I did it and with a Degree in hand, I was out in the real world in 1996.
Being the free spirit I was, I was up for anything when I left Plattsburgh in 1996. At the time, I was selling mushrooms to make a living and my good friend Mike was selling weed by the 100’s of pounds.
I had spent the previous 4 summers in Lake George, so in talking with Mike, he wanted to spend a summer in Lake George. We rented a lake house (Actually a cottage) on the estate of Dr. Abele (A dentist from Delmar). Really nice guy with a beautiful spot on Lake George.
Mike had a boat which we kept in the boat house on the property. I had my isuzu impulse at the time and Mike had his Bronco, an Audi Quattro and a CBR 600. Needless to say, we had all the toys a kid would want, let alone two guys straight out of college.
I got a job bartending and cooking at the Shoreline Restaurant, Mike got a job bartending. Honestly it was the best Dam summer of my life. We made a ton of money, partied like rockstars everynight, sometimes going into the next day. Life was good.