Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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The Return

For some reason my trips down memory lane have all been arriving somewhere between August, 1991 and May, 1992 of late. Hearing Kathleen's voice on Greg's cell phone at the Thai place in Pasadena conjured up body memories of a doomed heterotopia. No disco, this, just a bottle or two, Steve Miller on the stereo, and enough smoke to turn us into hams. Subsequent conversations with Kim about that night we still argue about endlessly reminded me how doomed it really was. It felt great, though, to frolic in our disregard.

And now I'm thrust back to Memorial Stadium on that beautiful fall day, watching Brian Treggs not quite reach Mike Pawlawski's last pass, then getting kind words from the U-Dub fans sitting next to me as I pondered what could have been, even though I knew then as I know now that it really couldn't have. I felt good that day. It was a loss to cherish. Today I'm in that same space. If only Macarthur had been able to adjust to the defender's tip on third down. If only Rogers hadn't thrown his final pass to a spot his stumbling target couldn't quite reach. I'm starting to think that the, "If only. . . ," construction is more nourishing than unbridled delight. 24-17. 23-17. There's a logic to my melancholy universe.

A Wrangler commercial during the telecast completed the circuit. "From Phoenix, Arizona/All the way to Tacoma/Philadelphia, Atlanta, L.A./Northern California, where the girls are warm. . . " In the end, I'd leave that little place on MLK, just past Fatapples, the one that another Greg ended up inheriting. If Carlos was there too, he'd call a cab and share it with me. Otherwise I'd walk, arriving back at my nearly lightless John Street garage as the rosy-fingered dawn stalked down from the hills, both before and after they were blackened by the flames, I thought, of my own impossible desires. And what of that remainder, the digit lost in the passage from then to now? It's out there somewhere, but I'm not going to get it back. And that's alright.

When I walked in this afternoon, Kim was sure Cal had won. "But you're happy," she said. Yes. I am. The way an angel, looking over his shoulder, forgets the rubble at his feet, the maddening weight of the past, and sees the promise of a new day bring out the darker darkness of the horizon's edge. Even the pure of heart deserve a backward glance into the future.

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