Wednesday, February 28 2001
My housemate John never does anything half way. When he was into ecstasy, it was a low-key Saturday night if he took less than four hits. Now that he's into the fireplace, he has a roaring fire running in it all day long from the moment he gets up in the morning to the time he goes to bed at night (thoughtfully, he turns it off when he's gone, but since he has no job, he's not gone very often). When he's running the fireplace, he doesn't just have it on a little bit either; he usually has the gas raging at full throttle.
Unfortunately for me, I've agreed to pay all the utilities. I'm a little nervous about what this is going to cost me. But at the same time, I'm an indulgent person and I don't want to interfere with or otherwise draw attention to his fun. It's just one of those wacky things he's going through.
This evening I was a little stressed out getting the house cleaned up and ready to entertain Gretchen.
Adding to my misery was a strong rain that fell as I was riding home from work. The raindrops were enormous and had a sting that suggested they might have actually been semi-melted hailstones. This weather is really unusual for Southern California, and now it seems it never will relent. On the East Coast, such prolonged rainy periods never happen. Never.
Tonight I'm drinking sake with my homie John. When he learned the subject was the Blues, he even posted on Vodkatea.
Gretchen's airplane is landing at LAX in 45 minutes. She's being picked up by her erstwhile good friend Amy, who is staying in West Hollywood.
Actually Gretchen went and rented her own car and drove directly to my house from the airport. At a little past midnight there she was knocking on my door. She looked almost exactly the same as I remember her looking 12 years ago, with shorter, straighter hair, a somewhat leaner face, and not a trace of those hippie skirts and spandex she used to wear.
Amazingly, it was as if the 12 years hadn't advanced at all; we fell into precisely the same roles we'd had back in our college days, only without any of the guilt of youth and distant commitments.
We drank whiskey and talked until nearly the first light of morning. Throughout it all I never felt even the slightest bit tired, though I'd taken no stimulants whatsoever. Gretchen told me that the first night we'd stayed up all night talking, circa September 1988, she'd seen me "holding court" with my usual crowd of Harkness sycophants and had declared in disgust to her friend Terri, "Tonight I'll stay up talking to him all night, alone." And sure enough she did. But that was back during the Reagan Administration, before the Berlin Wall fell.
There was so much to get caught up on, and though we touched on some overall trends it seemed pointless to do more than tell our single most interesting stories. I told of my August 1989 hitch hiking adventure to Quebec City, partly because I've never written it down anywhere and I felt the need to preserve the oral tradition. But I also told it partly because it involved some people Gretchen actually knew. For her part, Gretchen told me about her adventures in Isræl and Eastern Europe from 1990, at the time of the Iraqi Skud missile attacks, soon after the Berlin Wall fell. Eastern Europe was great back in those days. Twenty American dollars, for example, would last you six happy months in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Eventually we came around to the topic of fooling around and it didn't take us long to agree that it was probably a good thing for us to do. So we went upstairs and got up on each other big time in my bed, exactly like we used to do in Harkness 201.
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