Someone suggested this would make a good first page to a novel I should write

All I need to do now is write another 199 pages and I got a book on my hands.

I first moved to California in the summer of 1976, age 19. Lived for a year on the Fremont St. off-ramp at the foot of the Bay Bridge. . . And I sometimes look back at my 19-year-old self. Having no idea what was in store for me. Having no idea what human life was all about, really. A blank slate waiting to be filled. But seething with dreams of glory. “Itching like a finger on the trigger of a gun,” as Paul Simon put it. And this yearning for something more, something I could never quite put my finger on.

I had this weird belief in myself — in spite of virtually no evidence or affirmation from the world at large — that I was touched with some kind of greatness. And that that could somehow play out in my favor if I got a couple of lucky breaks, as my life unfolded. But also knowing I could just as easily get swallowed up by the streets and amount to nothing.

And I had this gnawing loneliness. Looking everywhere for that one person who would somehow make me whole. Wondering where she was. And if I would ever find her.

I was already a deeply wounded person, age 19. So I was locked into this desperate search for truth. I thought God was the answer. And if I could just find Him, that would solve everything.

Trying to figure out how to support myself. Was there some kind of job I could slot into, something I could at least tolerate. Wondering if there was a place for me anywhere in this world. Or if I was just a hopeless misfit who would never fit in anywhere.

I can still see myself clearly in my mind’s eye — my 19-year-old self. Standing there at my campsite under the Bay Bridge, listening to the non-stop traffic droning on above me, and looking out at the San Francisco Bay, and the Oakland and Berkeley skyline far off in the distance beyond that.

2 thoughts on “Someone suggested this would make a good first page to a novel I should write

  1. Damn, that’s painful.
    I used the punker/new wave of my youth as background for a crime novel. Not one of my best sellers, but I still push it. Nice thing about writing novels, you can go back and re-imagine the past as to how it should have been.

    1. I wrote a novel back in 1984. But it turned out the only parts of it that were any good were the stuff that I didn’t make up. So I pretty much stuck to non-fiction after that.

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