Lockdown: A table near the street in our old familiar place

I’ll meet you any time you want
At our Italian restaurant

This Billy Joel song is playing now (I’m listening to Joel’s 12 Gardens Live album). Like a lot of my favorite songs by him, it’s both immensely pleasurable and tinged with some melancholy. I don’t really want to get into why, else I descend into melancholia, but here’s a quick story that’s part of it.

In May 1992, the One Who Got Away was about to graduate from a university in northern California. I’d miraculously saved up a little bit of money, mostly by working two jobs while I secretly (I mean absolutely in secret) took a semester off to figure out what the heck I was going to do with myself. So I planned a trip to finally visit her.

I first flew to Seattle and hung out with Marc and Reid for a week. It was a great trip, and Seattle is still my favorite city outside Hawaii. I spent the days roaming the U district, mostly haunting used bookstores and used record stores, of which there were many. It was kind of a dream of a trip. Evenings, I hung out with Reid, Marc, and some of their friends, many of whom I knew from HBA.

The University of Washington is super, super popular for Hawaii people, and it was especially popular with HBA grads. We don’t send very many to the Ivy League schools, so UW was kind of the top of the next tier for most of us. I don’t know if it’s still true.

After Seattle, I went to NorCal for a few days. It was a little rough, because I’d sorta been planning the trip since she first went up there, thinking I would ask her right before she graduated to marry me. The trip part of the idea I held onto, but the marriage thing was ridiculous. I was still stuck at junior status after five years of undergraduate school, and in a horrible state of arrested development I cling to even as I type this.

A year later, I was packing my stuff for a move to Hilo, where I would finally finish my studies. But this idea had not yet wriggled into my brain in May 1992. I was still in the can-I-make-this-work-at-Manoa frame of mind.

How does any of us survive our early 20s? It was the moodiest time of my life, and I’m a moody guy. The roller coaster was crazier when I was an adolescent, but the lows were much, much lower, and the plummets were a bit steeper when I was a young man.

It still echoes darkly and hollowly, this period between 1987 and 1993, when I remember those plunges, and when I think about that incredible feeling of angst and despair. I am not making any of this Gen X woe-is-me stuff up, even though if I were to describe it, it would read like a textbook analysis of the generational vibe back then. I was really, truly, genuinely stuck in Gen X woe.

Since most of my classmates had graduated college by 1992, they experienced it a slightly different way. I was still floundering as a fifth-year junior, and boy was it tough.

Some of this is material for the Kurt Cobain article I’m going to write someday.

Proposing was out of the question, but I did confess to the girl, my last night there, that I’d been planning to do it for four years. We wouldn’t even be a couple until a few years later, but we communicated somewhere much deeper than just two friends from high school. It was a safe space for saying such insane things.

My second night there, we roamed the Little Italy section of San Francisco, getting dinner at this little spot I know I’d never find again if it were still around. It was good food and good conversation, the kind of conversation we were always good at, ever since early in high school. People who don’t really know how we were might never understand why I’ll never really be over her, but when you’ve experienced that level of communication with someone, it’s pretty dang tough to get over. Even when it’s gone and you’re still sort of in the relationship.

I don’t think back on this night very often, mostly because I have so many memories by now and this is just one night early in the adult part of the friendship. When it pops into my head, I think of it rather fondly. We were so young and stupid and strangely cool.

The next evening, we came back into San Francisco and dined at the same spot. Looking at the menu, we each admitted we’d be happy ordering the same meals as before. Instead (and I wish I could remember whose idea it was), I ordered the second night what she had the first, and she ordered the dish I had the night before.

A bottle of red, a bottle of white
It all depends upon your appetite

I really shouldn’t say never, and I know it. I’m old and know a lot of stuff, but I’m also old enough to know I don’t know anything. For all I know, there’s a deeper level of connection, and I just haven’t gotten there with anyone yet. I believe it’s possible. I’ve experienced something deeper spiritually, so there might be something in between.

I got off to a slightly later start Friday than I was hoping, but my mojo was still there. I was pretty darn productive, if not quite as productive as I wanted to be. I did some editing on a proposal one of the DOs put together without me. It made me really happy. That’s sort of the goal, to get them working with the faculty on their own content, while I assemble it and make it look and sound good. I didn’t even do the assembly on this one — just edits.

I also put together a couple of pieces for the staff newsletter, and worked a little on a couple of feature stories I’ve been dragging my feet with. The mojo from Thursday night helped a lot, as did ABBA Gold, an album that does pretty great things for my writing.

Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Breakfast was overnight oats. Lunch was a couple of hot dogs with sauerkraut, ketchup, and mustard. I still have Thai leftovers but really wanted hot dogs. They were great. I had a feeling I was going to skip the walk, and around my usual late dinner time I was reeeeally hungry. I needed to eat, and I needed to eat soon. So I threw pasta stuff in the Instant Pot. Delicious. I dined happily happily happily while I gave The Sound of Music a second ride.

I did a bit of major housecleaning between the end of my workday and dinner time, which is probably one reason I was so hungry. While I decided what to make for dinner, I snacked on some Krispy Kreme mini cinnamon-sugar doughnuts, picked up at Long’s when I grabbed those Fat Boys. I am no real fan of shelf-stable drugstore doughnuts (these had a pull-date in mid-June), but boy were they tasty. And satisfying.

Sharon and I were on work Skype most of the day talking about lots of stuff, some of it work-related. Crush Girl and I traded some texts about the upcoming weekend.

I have no plans for the weekend, but when I get up around noon, I’m going to set a small agenda. It’s three days. I need brain rest, but I need physical activity, and I have a few projects to make some headway on.

I would like to do some reading, too. And since I got Orange is the New Black seasons four and five in the mail Friday, I’d like to finish my re-watch of season three. And of course I still have three more viewings of The Sound of Music.

In the middle of my writing about the San Francisco Italian restaurant, the Billy Joel album ended, and I switched to Styx’s Caught in the Act: Live. Such a different set of memories.

It’s a long weekend. Long weekends can be great or they can be miserable. If you’re looking for someone to connect with, hit me up either way. I guarantee I can’t give you “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant” communication, but I think I can still be of some use.

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