Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Memory, 1982

In 1982, my then-husband and I moved to Berkeley so I could go to graduate school.  My friend Jim got us an apartment in the building next door to his.  Growing around the front door was a huge, trailing jasmine in full bloom.  My mother stood under the doorframe and said, For the rest of your life, when you smell jasmine, you will remember this place.

It was a very ordinary one-bedroom apartment on the third floor.  It had an ancient kitchen with pale yellow tiles edged in black, and shag carpeting that Jim described as “owl-shit green.”  The ex and I slept on a platform bed in the dark bedroom, under a blue and white-flowered Laura Ashley quilt. We had a black-and-white TV in there.  It was about the size of a toaster.  I remember watching Michael Jackson do the moonwalk on that TV.

We didn’t cook a lot, or rather, we didn’t cook well.  I made a lot of pasta (which Neil Heidler ate too much of and threw up all over the owl-shit green carpeting).  The ex gloried in a dish of his own devising: vegetables sautéed in our big, red wok, then mixed with cream of mushroom soup and served over rice.  Needless to say, we ate out a lot.  On a limited budget, we often went to La Fiesta, a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant on Telegraph.  Strawberry sodas and cockroaches on the walls.  Blue tiles inlaid on the tables.  Still the best Mexican food I ever ate.  I wonder if it’s still there.

I remember sitting cross-legged on the bed and doing accounting problems.  Standing by the bookcase in the hallway so I could talk on the phone.  Watching my husband perform at a terrible little club on Shattuck whose name escapes me, nicknamed “The Toilet” by the other musicians who were drawn in by free beers.

One of our neighbors was a woman named Andrea, and we got to be good friends.  She was working on a doctorate in archaeology and wanted to meet men in the worst way.  We used to laugh a lot, but I can’t remember why anymore.  We lost touch.

My close friend Sherry lived across town.  Every Thursday night, I would go over to her apartment and watch Cheers and Hill Street Blues.  (I think Thursday was the night the ex played at the Toilet.)  Sherry had a huge crush on Ted Danson.  I loved Daniel Travanti.  Sherry and I aren’t friends anymore.  I miss her so much.

The ex and I went to Tilden Park almost every weekend.  We rode the merry-go-round.  I always got a brick of pink popcorn at the concession stand.

He liked to jog, in those days.  It staggers me to remember that I did absolutely no exercise at all. 

I thought about all this this morning as I jogged past a house about a mile away from mine.  In the yard, a huge hedge of jasmine bloomed.  It almost stopped me in my tracks.

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