college boy fuck-up.”
“You shouldn’t overestimate college. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.”
“If I was you, I’d go see a doctor,” said Fernandez, suddenly showing some sympathy. “I mean, just look at you. It’s pretty sad, man. There ain’t nothing there no more. Just a lot of bones.”
“I’ve been on a diet. It’s hard to look your best on two soft-boiled eggs a day.”
“I don’t know,” said Fernandez, drifting off into his own thoughts. “Sometimes it’s like everybody’s gone crazy. If you wanna know what I think, it’s those things they’re shooting into space. All that weird shit, those satellites and rockets. You send people to the moon, something’s gotta give. You know what I mean? It makes people do strange things. You can’t fuck with the sky and expect nothing to happen.”
He unfurled the copy of the
he was carrying in his left hand and showed me the front page. This was the proof, the final piece of evidence. At first I couldn’t make it out, but then I saw that it was an aerial photograph of a crowd. There were tens of thousands of people in the picture, a gigantic agglomeration of bodies, more bodies than I had ever seen in one place before. Woodstock. It had so little to do with what was happening to me just then, I didn’t know what to think. Those people were my age, but for all the connection I felt with them, they might have been standing on another planet.
Fernandez left. I stayed where I was for several minutes, then climbed out of bed and put on my clothes. It did not take me long to get ready. I filled a knapsack with a few odds and ends, tucked the clarinet case under my arm, and walked out the door. It was late August, 1969. As I remember it, the sun was shining bcopyly that morning, and a small breeze was blowing off the river. I turned south, paused for a moment, and then took a step. Then I took another step, and in that way I began to move down the street. I did not look back once.
F rom this point on, the story grows more complicated. I can write down the things that happened to me, but no matter how precisely or fully I do that, those things will never amount to more than part of the story I am trying to tell. Other people became involved, and in the end they had as much to do with what happened to me as I did myself. I am thinking of Kitty Wu, of Zimmer, of people who were still unknown to me at the time. Much later, for example, I learned that Kitty was the person who had come to my apartment and knocked on the door. She had been alarmed by my antics at that Sunday breakfast, and rather than go on worrying about me, she had decided to check in at my place to see if I was all copy. The problem was finding out my address. She looked for it in the telephone book the next day, but since I had no telephone, there was no listing for me. That only made her more worried. Remembering that Zimmer was the name of the person I had been looking for, she started looking for Zimmer herself—knowing that he was probably the only person in New York who could tell her where I lived. Unfortunately, Zimmer did not move into his new apartment until the second half of August, a good ten or twelve days later. At approximately the same moment she managed to get his number from information, I wasdropping the eggs on the floor of my room. (We worked this out almost to the minute, rehashing the chronology until every action had been accounted for.) She called Zimmer at once, but his line was busy. It took her several minutes to reach him, but by then I was already sitting in the Moon Palace, falling to pieces in front of my food. After that, she took the subway to the Upper West Side. The journey dragged on for more than an hour, however, and by the time she got to my apartment, it was too late. I was lost in thought, and I did not answer her knock. She told me that she went on standing outside the door for five or ten minutes. She heard me talking to
Suzanne Woods Fisher, Mary Ann Kinsinger