I am up to my eyeballs in 1960-1963, my years at Northwestern wherein I (a) met Conrad Bishop, (b) sank to what was unquestionably the most disturbed mental condition of my life, and (c) started the long, long trek upward to actually having a life. My memory of those years is understandably a Swiss cheese, and I’ve been reaching out to the few hardy souls we knew then who are still alive, getting some bits and pieces from their own recall to help mine tune in.
The memories have been all over the map. “Oh yeah, I remember, we were in the same dorm.” “Yes, that apartment was at 809 Foster Street.” “And omigod, this is incredible, let’s figure out how to do something together again.”
My gates are unlocking, the blocked streams are starting to trickle, and the overall effect is that I am overwhelmed with love for so many different things. Love for this person who instantly became almost part of my DNA: this weekend we used Criterion to watch Ingman Bergman’s A Lesson in Love, the movie we saw on our first date in 1960, and here we are, sixty years later, sheltered in place amid cats and stacks of paper and the keen beauty of afternoon light through the leaves.
And love for those who were part of our life then. It’s good to know that my dorm-mate has had an international high-profile career as actress and teacher, that the co-tenant of our love nest has a string of acting credits longer than the Brooklyn bridge, and that our actor-collaborator in the edgiest thing we did there (Brecht’s Baal), has combined serious theatre work with developing therapies that nurture endangered kids. Sixty years later we’re all still swimming in the same stream.
So it’s Father’s Day, and it’s the Summer Solstice, and I think of the ritual we were part of at Starwood so many years ago. Conrad was the Sun God, I was Mother Earth, and what played out was an affirmation that the pain of distancing sharpens the joy of return and the connection will never be broken. Sixty years ago, we were part of a ferment that still bubbles, where we were all the pistil and the stamen, the bee and the nectar, and after we are all gone, it will go on.