Frank settled down in the Valley
and he hung his wild years on a nail that he drove through his wife's forehead
He sold used office furniture out there on San Fernando Road
and assumed a 30,000 dollar loan at fifteen and a quarter percent
put a down payment on a little two bedroom place
I don't think I could ever say that I have any wild years. I sometimes think of the late 1990's as my Lost Years, though. I spent a lot of that time between 1996 and 2000 living with a roomate I came to hate more and more, becoming involved in an emotionally messy relationship or two, and working like hell on a Ph.D. dissertation that seemed like it would never be done. Through it all, the walls of my world gradually began to get closer and closer, leaving less and less room for interests outside of school.
These years have been more on my mind of late because people I knew then are crossing my path.
The first of these is T. She and I had an off-again/on-again sort of relationship that was either friendship or something much more intimate for about oh... what was it? A year? She was slightly older than me, intelligent, well educated (a Masters in Fine Arts), articulate and (unfortunately) recently divorced from a marriage that was still causing her drama. Eventually T. moved a couple thousand miles away to be with some guy she met a handful of times in person after a long online correspondence. She then moved back to the area about two years later after all that didn't work out. Before a couple weeks ago, I last heard from her about four years ago.
I got an e-mail from her recently. She evidently threw some names of old friends into Google and found my personal web page. She saw that I was married and wanted to know details. She also mentioned that she was married to a childhood friend and had a small child. I have not responded.
Hearing from her prompted some complex feelings. Getting involved with her then was probably a small mistake... she was still rather wounded. The only reason I did was because I was also wounded... though I was too busy to really notice it at the time. What she wrote to me revived a sense of wrongness about the relationship that could be summed up by the Jack Nicholson quote "Lady, don't sell crazy here; we're all full up." Part of her note said, in effect, "I know I was troubled then... but I'm doing better now, see?" I think I would have felt much better without the examination of healed old bruises so quickly after the word "hello", thank you.
The most recent of these people is D. D. and I were housemates with another fellow that I have mentioned here as "the Anti-Dr. Geek". I call him the Anti-Dr. Geek because he and I have the same first and middle names, as well as have last names with the same number of letters, vowels, and consonants. Living with the Anti-Dr. Geek eventually became like a bad marriage. We just didn't talk to each other... and he was slowly driving me nuts with his passive/aggressive behavior. An example, I once got a short lecture from the Anti-Dr. Geek about how I was not raising the venetian blinds on the windows of our house properly (he wanted me to be sure that they were parallel with the floor, rather than slanted, to avoid having the edges fray the cords.)
D. was out of this direct line of fire. He is Russian by birth, but a citizen of Israel by inclination. He was working for another large high tech company when he ran into visa trouble and had to leave the country. I come to discover while in the locker room at the gym, that he has also been working for Company O. for the last two years. Small world, I say.
Talking with D. always was rather interesting. He would always ask the kind of questions that many people living in the United States would not probably not think of. I recall a point when we watched a news item together on TV about one of the follow on trials from the Rodney King riots; I believe several people were on trial for battery or manslaughter against a truck driver. After seeing this, D. turns to me and asks "So Dr. Geek, do people in the United States trust the police?" Talking to D. made me a little more aware of what it must be like to be living in the United States as a foreigner who grew up in a very different system.
One night Frank was on his way home from work
He stopped at the liquor store
Picked up a couple of Mickey's Big Mouths
Drank 'em in the car, and with a Shell station
he got a gallon of gas in a can
Drove home, doused everything in the house
Parked across the street laughing
Watching it burn
All Halloween orange and chimney red
Then Frank put on a top forty station
Got on the Hollywood Freeway
and headed North
-Tom Waits, "Frank's Wild Years"
on 2005-08-03 at 12:47 p.m.
The Wayback Machine - To Infinity And Beyond