Nora and I are living together, in St. Louis. Each morning, we walk to work, her to St. Louis University, me to Providence School in the inner city. She tires of me always talking about my doctoral dissertation, History of Land Travel. (a little about land travel)
and I, of her former lover, Erin Satie, her affair of a couple of years ago, on Venice Beach. Although I knew her when she was still in the convent, when I was getting my Masters, we were only friends, friends without benefits, you might say in the current parlance.
We stop at the Biltmore each morning, (import description). We’ve just been robbed again. Nora is unhappy. She dreams of going back to Venice Beach. We only came to live together because when she returned from CA, she needed an apartment. I, conincidentally, needed an apartment. We got a two bedroom. Never used the second room. Our relationship is stormy, troubled. When we pass each other in the morning through the corridor between bathroom and bedroom, we hug the walls. Though we say nothing. She is still in love with Erik. I am still in love with Lynda, an affair of some six years that ironically, could not last more than two weeks.
Venice Beach trip
Jan 72 The Lynda Lee Flame out
What Nora seemed to have forgotten during our argument at the Biltmore, was that I had met Erik, briefly, on a trip to California before I started the doctoral program. Blame it on the drugs: Venice Beach, second and second only to Height Ashbery, was the hippie Mecca, the controlled-substance capital of the known world. There were more herbs, nostrums, potions, pills, ampules, hypodermics on the street than Squib had little liver pills. Reality was unfashionable, a dark alley, a dead-end street, where the unadventurous, the poor, and the abstemious lived.
I had just completed my assignment at Susan B. Anthony, an inner-city school in Rochester where I was on a temporary contract for an ungraded 3rd and 4th grade. My relationship with Lynda Lee, an on again off again affair of some seven years, had flamed out. I was a mess. I couldn’t trust myself. I had trouble getting to sleep, and when I did, I feared I might turn on the gas in the kitchen stove, close the garage door and start the car. I’d taken to hiding the kitchen knives.
When I finally did fall asleep, I slept through most of the daylight hours. I saw no one, had nothing to do but run my mind over the hurt, like a dog licking at his wound.
So when Nora invited me to come out to California and visit, her and Erik’s bungalow in Venice Beach, I jumped at the chance. I converted my savings into travelers checks, packed a bag, and headed out to the Rochester International Airport.
I lighted at LAX late in the morning. I got general directions outside the terminal and hitchhiked in the direction of Venice Beach. I hadn’t even confirmed with Nora that I was coming. We were the sixties generation, heedless as fire walkers.
I was picked up by two...