Thinkin’ ’bout a girl that I used to know… 2002_11_17

Ace Backwords's photo.

Wake up this morning at 6 AM, Sunday morning. Something always melancholy and wistful about Sunday mornings. Nothing ever happens on Sunday mornings…

There’s an almost unbearable sadness to it all. Like something is happening (life) that is so unbelievably incredible, but there is just something missing, some important, mysterious piece that prevents you from appreciating it; prevents you from making sense of it. Maybe that’s why I cling to these past memories. It’s this sense of something important slipping away — my life, pissing away — while something important goes down the drain. Something missing. Always. What IS that tantalizing something? I want to go back in time and do it all over again (and THIS time I’ll get it right!)

I have 2 odd memories of Kerry. 1995. I’m in Arcata. The town is still fresh and exciting.  I hadn’t yet walked down the same five streets, five hundred times and realized there was nothing there. So my mind was excited with possibilities and potential. I’m walking past the parking lot of the Co-Op, by the Ride Board. And I pass a hippie school bus full of Dead Heads and Rainbow Children. And they’re associated in my mind with: KERRY!!  So they fascinate me. They’re the in-group I want to join. Later, a year later, I’ll look at them and see grubby, dysfunctional bums. But, at that moment, they had a certain magic, as if at any moment, Kerry would come walking out of that bus, in her sexy, hippie gypsy Rainbow clothes, with her hemp jewelry and her smile of love and sex, and she’d dance over to me and hug me and love me.  Forever. And I scrutinized each face of every hippie street person. But none of them were Kerry. It was a sunny day, in my mind’s memory.  And then, little Hippie Boy Lenny comes out of the bus — not Kerry but a FRIEND of Kerry’s. A fleeting connection to Kerry. And I ask him how she’s doing (“She’s back at her Mom’s house in Southern California, working as a waitress at Denny’s. She wants to quit her job and go on the Dead tour…”). Dying for every detail about KERRY!, even as I’m playing it cool, as always. And then Lenny is gone — grubby little rip-off Lenny with his golden locks and angelic face, like a pint-sized, 24-year-old Robert Plant from Long Island. And I walk down the sunny, pointless Arcata street, alone as always.

And yet, somehow, that mundane little memory, that fleeting, hazy image in  my mind, sums up that whole year, 1995. That whole period. Like when a song comes on the radio and it transports you back into your past like a Time Machine, and all the memories and moments come back…

And my other Kerry memory from that period is: I’m in the shower in the morning, that crude, cement little shower stall — no bigger than a box — on the second floor down the hall from my lonely hotel room at the Greyhound Hotel. Somehow I remember the feeling as being sweaty, feverish, even as I’m in the steamy wet shower — the hard water pounding on my chest. And the weird thing was, in the year I lived there, I would never see any of the other tenants on the floor, even as there were 7 or 8 of us. It was like a ghost town. A haunted house. You wouldn’t even HEAR them in their rooms. We were quiet to the point of being the walking dead. Ghosts. Ashamed to be seen. But I’d be in the shower every morning, preparing to go out on a date with a girl who was never there.  And, for some reason, I’d often think of Kerry when I was in the shower in that pointlesss lonely town of Eureka at the end of nowhere. And I’d wonder where Kerry was at that moment. And what she was doing. And why I was here and she was always somewhere else, a thousand miles away. My one heart’s desire. And somehow it was her fault that I had ended up here. She could have lifted me up to superstardom (if only). And instead I had crash-landed to this welfare hotel in the middle of zombie nowhere. And I would think about Kerry and the whole dream of being loved and being cool and successful and all the missing pieces in my life, as I stood in that lonely concrete shower stall.

And somehow, that banal memory sums up that whole period. Autumn. The end of 1995.

And now I think of this morning, Sunday morning, 6 AM when I woke up and started thinking about Katie and I wrote these words. Was it just 4 hours ago? Or 40 years? It’s all gone…

“Thinkin’ ’bout a girl that I used to know…I closed my eyes, and she slipped away…”

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