Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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Sometimes People Drive Over the Edge

Going through my archives the other day -- you remember those, right? -- I came across this postcard that demonstrates A) that back then in 1990 you could paperclip something to a postcard and have it arrive safely at its destination; B) that my friends were already sick of me talking about postmodernism;

C) that they still wanted to write me postcard in spite of my on-track mind; and D) that irony is often a back formation.

The "good time" my correspondent refers to consisted chiefly of driving her around in the wee hours of the night before dropping her off at SFO for her fissure-of-dawn flight, then piloting her car through dense rush-hour traffic and dropping it off at the place she had been staying for a friend to pick up. Sure, there was an extended discussion of Laura Palmer's Diary and a comparison of her list of lovers with Laura's, in the muted going-away party in that strange apartment just off Broadway, near the breakfast place my anarchist crowd frequented and Oakland Tech. And I did get to see her stripper friend's nipple piercings, because that person insisted on disrobing in front of us in Leanne's room in the Ward Street house.

But I was a passive bystander for both of those events. The only thing I did, besides driving, was to find her a place to rest. You see, her stripper friend had insisted on taking Leanne's bed. I didn't want to be crossing the bridge at 5am. So I suggested we head across the water at 2:30am and drive down the coast south of the City. Because the only place close enough to SFO that I knew to go was the beach by the Taco Bell, formerly A&W, in Kim's part of Pacifica, that's where we went. My friend dozed on the sand. I watched the waves and felt strangely anxious.

When I finally got back to my anarchist household on 57th Street, sometime between 8 and 9am, I learned that I was more psychic than I'd previously realized. All that time when I'd been killing time along the coast -- I also drove my friend across Devil's Slide and down to Montara and back -- something had been gravely amiss back home. I felt terrible, realizing that my absence -- this was the era before my demographic had mobile phones, obviously -- had placed a tremendous burden on my housemate. It wasn't my fault, but I was still plagued with guilt. By the time I arrived in Vallejo, it was clear just how prescient my decision to stop in Pacifica had been. I learned that night to trust my instincts, reason be damned. And I'm learning again, as I write this, that the words "good time" will always be in shadow for me. Something died in me that night back in 1990, but it wasn't Postmodernism.
Tags: archive, autobiography, memory

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