Here on the Smith we’re not officially off the grid but we are plenty far from my (and most) known worlds. We are hundreds of miles from the San Francisco Bay and our motley crew of friends in Berkeley, and well beyond the reach of family. It’s a place people describe, to emphasize its remoteness, as being behind the redwood curtain. [For reference, in the 1850’s this area was considered so far from then-civilization it was said there was no law north of the Eel, no god north of the Klamath. Supermarkets, gas stations, and Wal-mart notwithstanding, it still feels like an apt description.]
By in large I like the distance that separates me from that hulking presence called the past. Enough of my friends from Berkeley have made the trek north so I still feel connected to most personal parts of my life that matter. No family’s been north but that could change. Generally, though, it’s as if my past has been wiped clean; as if I’ve been reborn north of the bay, well past wine country, in distant northern reaches where memory mutates and new, unprecedented patterns of life emerge.
If you travel with baggage like mine you will understand this is not hard to like.
But sometimes the past sneaks itself inside the bubble of delight. And when that happens the new balance goes wacky and I struggle to make sense of a life so far removed.
Yeah, I replied. Curt Feldman.
Alan said we’d gone to grad school together, in the 80’s. He sounded excited to see me.
I had to bend my mind to remember those days — yes, law school; yes, lots of craziness; yes, not enough studying. I’d been disinvited from attending the second and third years so I did what I’ve done plenty to experiences that went south. I guess you could say I disinvited right back.
The memory and mystery never fully formed, but hell, didn’t Alan and I fall into a friendship over the course of his stay (with wife and son) — over wine, tequila, a dinner of salmon, then a second dinner of an Alan-made jambalaya!
I had a hard time remembering life in law school and the friends I’d made but I stopped caring about what was forgotten as soon as the second bottle of wine was poured. Maybe it’s time for more memories to percolate up from the past.