As we grow older our universe begins to shrink at a quickened pace. I am surrounded by younger people most of the time which is a good thing on many levels. It keeps me in the present while still allowing future possibilities. This does not deny the reality that I am not a young man. One of the things that goes along with this landscape is that I have been saying goodbye more than I say hello. I received a phone call a couple of days ago from my friend Jody who was one of my classmates at Santa Clara a lifetime ago. She and I and most of our pod were I guess, sort of artsy in a school that at that time was very conservative. The first year I was there in 1962 was the first year the school was co-ed. Dark ages indeed.
Anyway, Susan and I were friends and around the time we all graduated she would marry my roommate Peter. Before all that, however as the folk scene was burgeoning in the San Jose area Paul Kantner (my old friend who got me into the Airplane some years later) bought a 650 BSA Super Rocket motorcycle. He had never ridden before and back then none of us wore helmets or other protective gear. It was literally an accident waiting to happen. One night leaving a gig at the Folk Theater in San Jose Paul crashed the bike flying through the air and stopping only when his head hit a metal light post. It was a serious injury and he was lucky to survive it. They would up removing part of his skull and putting a metal screen in his head but that is a story for another time.
The police took the bike to impound and Paul to the hospital. I wanted to go see him and I asked Susan to go along. We visited for a while and he asked me to go pick up the bike for him. I remember it like it was yesterday. Susan was wearing a summer dress and sandals. (Do summer dresses even exist any more?) I had jeans and a T-shirt and sneakers. None of us would ride dressed like that today… but it was not today.
We got the bike and I rode it back to campus where it lived until Paul got out of the hospital.
Susan died yesterday of cancer, but as her granddaughter told me, she is at peace now. We hadn’t seen each other in years. There was literally a lifetime between then and now but I can still feel the summer wind blowing across our faces and through our hair.
Life leads us all on our own destination journeys but at the end of the day, old friends know where you came from.
Fair winds and following seas Susan…
We were young together…