Sunday, February 1, 2009

36. On a trip to Europe one summer, when I was about 17, I took a train halfway across the southern end of France, missing several intended stops, because I was interested in a girl sitting nearby, but was too shy to say hello. I finally got off & retraced my route.

37. On the same trip, I got thrown out of a bar-cafe in Rome, because I misunderstood the payment system, & a very short & obstreperous waiter started getting in my face. (Fascinating, huh?)

38. I was on that trip, or part of it, with my longtime friend Tom, who died of AIDS about 20 yrs later. His mother was Scottish. She married her Canadian husband after seeing him get off the plane during WW II (he was in the Canadian air force, she was in the British army). She pointed him out to a friend as he descended from the aircraft, & said to her - "I'm going to marry that man." She was... Scottish. (His father, ironically - when you think of Tom's fate - became a prominent epidemiologist. A very kind, unassuming man. He had a hobby, building this concrete boat in his backyard - this is in Minnesota - that he planned to sail around the world. I don't think it ever left the backyard.)

39. I met Jerry Garcia in about 1975, at the famous music hall in San Francisco, as he was coming off stage. I asked him if he could help me get my guitar back, which had just been stolen by a member of his Hell's Angels entourage. He was friendly, but apologetic : "there's nothing I can do."

40. I read War and Peace while lying in a hammock in our front yard, one quiet summer in the mid-60s. This was before I came of draft age. When I did, I applied for C.O. status, on the shaky grounds that I didn't believe the Vietnam War was just. I also took the college deferment, & was never picked after that ran out. I was lucky, I guess. I don't know what I would do now, if I had to do it over again.

41. Once, early on in my "Jesus freak" days (mid-1970s), I was hitchiking somewhere through upstate New York or New Hampshire. I had less than 20 dollars to my name (I think I was on my way to NYC, where a high school friend was living). I remember it was a bright sunny day. I hadn't eaten much for a while. I remember coming to a ridge on the highway - quiet, nobody around - & looking out at the hills & just suddenly jumping & shouting for joy. It was just sheer gladness in being young & alive, I think - sort of "peaked" there, out of the blue.

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