Time Passages

It all made sense. TimePassage1

The plan: Four years at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis campus, straight through. Living at home, commuting with Dad, score the sheepskin, then … get a job. At least, that was The Plan strongly encouraged by The Family Project.

Even high school buddy Mike Elyea was certain about my future. “I’ll be seeing you,” he said, “sailing through J School, gorgeous blonde girlfriend on your arm—big man on campus.” He did that with a gleeful flourish, as only Mike could do.

I almost believed him.

Friday, Sept. 8, 1978, I’d arranged time off my Tonka night shift and rode with Dad to the U for freshman orientation. “It was a long process,” the diary states, “of slide presentations, tours and short, informative lectures. Everyone was really helpful and I sort of met a few people.” Fellow graduates Celeste Meyer, Sherri Erickson and Geoff Morrison joined in the action. Later I stopped in at the Minnesota Daily office and talked to a staffer there.

Part of the freshman year plan included general Liberal Arts courses: world literature, theater, Asian art history (?!), and then I’d enroll at the Journalism school. But I wasn’t so sure. Truth be told, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and was more than willing to let others advise me.

The next day I wrote in the diary: “I’ve been thinking a lot about college and writing ‘The Crowded Room,’ my high school story.” Instead of pursuing songwriting/lyrics-writing with Kevin Gibson at Tonka, I’d returned to fiction. The “Parade of Faces” short story had become a chapter in a longer work. During tumbler-deburrer loads at my lone work station, I made a calendar of plot points in the story. Whether it was going to be a novel or a novella, it was too early to tell. But I had a title from the get-go: The Crowded Room.

The cats were away that day (Mom took in a matinee of Saturday Night Fever; Dad took the boat out fishing), so this mouse did play. At Mark Drahos’s apartment, a party was underway. Chris Boll, Greg Hartmann, Chad, Vince, Steve and I “got 3 bottles of vodka” along with beers. Later we stopped by the 7-11 where the high schoolers were hanging out. Clearly I was “one foot in sea, and one on shore”—not entirely in college yet, and physically not far enough from high school. It was weird.

So, I started reliving my experiences through writing fiction.

By Monday, Sept. 11, I’d finished college registration and Dad gave me a ride home, arriving for my factory shift late. It rained all Tuesday as I headed to the factory again. In the diary, later: “A sad day, for what I’ll never know.” The summertime workers were set for layoff and I was worried about making the transition from night-shift job to daytime schoolwork. Debbie was a faded memory. And I still had more textbooks to buy.

TimePassage2Then, one amazing day—Thursday, Sept. 14. Al Stewart’s follow-up to “Year of the Cat,” “Time Passages,” was playing on the radio. That morning I rode with Dad again to the U, where I scored the last of my textbooks. At 12:30, I hopped a bus downtown, “got an ice cream cone at the IDS, bought two front-row, on-the-floor tickets to the Al Stewart concert Oct. 22” at Northrop Auditorium, on the U campus.

On the bus home, I sat behind a cute girl who was reading her horoscope in Skyway News. When she put the paper down, I asked if I could see it. We read each others’ horoscopes, laughing. She told me her name was Jocey Hale, that she was a junior at Blake High School, and that she was going shopping at Ridgedale. “We seemed really interested in each other,” I wrote in the diary, “She told me to give her a call.”

Just so I’d remember, she grabbed a pen and wrote her name on my hand.

“I felt real strange on the way into Mound, dazed at what … changes had just taken place. I fell asleep on the bus … I’d never done that before.” The whole incident was delightfully nonsensical.

After my night shift, I looked Jocey up in the phone book. Then I planned to call her the very next day.

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~ by completelyinthedark on July 19, 2013.

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