Coming through the Ft. McHenry tunnel now, under the Baltimore Harbor, still so new in 1990 that it looks like the inside of somebody’s bathroom with all the clean white tile.  Nobody else in the tunnel this time of night, makes me think of driving back and forth to college with Tom Matuzzi.

Tom, still working in Manhattan, still doin’ it, still keepin at it, working that job.  But he also has the romantic commitment, don’t know what he’d do without it.  He was always strangely solitary, but maybe that’s what it is to be grown-up, married, in love for the final and last go ’round.

I’ll always remember him best gunning the fuck out of that rental car as we crossed the Del. Mem. Bridge turning to me with this huge expository smile spread-eagled on his face saying,

“No cops on bridges, Mitchie EEE-HEEE!”

But that was before he cracked his arm in two or graduated from Comm. School or started commuting and working or lost his eye.  I think a lot sometimes about how beautiful and simple we were then, and I wonder if I’ll ever figure out what it is about his simple observation that captivates the way it does.

Another hour another hour the signs keep telling me to get to Washington, but I know it’ll take longer than that to get around the Beltway into Va.  I’ve got the directions for when I get off the beltway – I haven’t been to Tim K.’s most recent pad yet, but I’m closer now, closer and go and go, go I, keeping a very close eye on my speed, the other cars, and any possibility of cops.

I do not want to talk to cops, considering that I can’t really see out of the car, except for the windshield and the driver’s side mirror.  Speeding is not something I would care to discuss with any officer, particularly one of those yellow Maryland cops.

Coming around the Beltway, I think of Amanda, how beautiful she was and that weekend we spent together in D.C. with her friend Jeanine.  Christmastime freshman year at UVa.(’83), one of the last times I ever saw her.

Parties at the house of that engaged frisbee playing couple out in suburban Va., and at the immigration lawyers apartment in the District, and of course seeing the “Awakening,” one of the coolest sculptures ever.

And hitting briefly the Tune Inn up on Capitol Hill for a burger, so that five years later I would return there to spend the end of a long boozing night drinking 90-cent drafts and playin Patsy Cline songs on the jukebox, talkin to Jeff, tryin to figure out if Amanda left me for another girl or whether the distance was just too much or what, I’ll never know for sure.

Off the Beltway now, and into Va. A lot of history has gone down for me here, it’s strange, so strange to think of it all and try to come to some kind of understanding about it.  I’ve always been a visitor in this city, yet, in 1990, I knew it better than any other besides NYC.  Most parts of my life have passed through here at one point or another.

My grandfather Hamish Calderwood taught down here, in Montgomery County, Maryland.  His brothers Colson and Barclay both spend a good part of their lives down here, my father went to high school down here, and my Uncle David and his Cousin Lawrence still live in the area, but I’ve never been here with my family.

My experiences with this place began in ’83 with Amanda, but then there were also those early times with Brad (aka Bradlee Thornton), when he worked as a reporter’s aide at the Washington Post, then sophomore year ’84 with Brad and Dudley and his friend John (“and a black cherry”).  And Brad and Jefferson and Dudley in that reporter’s townhouse that Brad was house sitting for, and on through junior year and the drunken farmhouse nights out in Fairfax with Jeff, getting totally fucked up at those redneck bars or in the kitchen snorting Vivarin ’til it feels like you’re drowning in salt water (wide awake but drowning), then of course fate and senior year and Jeff again with Kathleen Ryan, the mushrooms and Halloween on M Street.

I find Tim’s apartment without trouble and bring my two smallest bags upstairs along with the half a bone I had left over in the ashtray, which I had been avoiding smoking all along the trip down the coast, five hours behind me now, I light up and get high in Tim’s living room.

He’s sleeping like I expected.  Very free and loose now, I lie down on the floor going over things Washington in my head, while my back throbs from the drive, and my mind goes over and over the many things and times and vodka shots and getting lost and drinking ’til we puked and lost our car and drove the wrong way around the Beltway, and the wrong way down a one-way street on the way up to the Hill to the Tune Inn to listen to Patsy Cline and reminisce with Jeff.

(San Francisco, March 1990)

Advertisements