Already Gone

When you’re not entirely sure where you’re going, it’s hard to see where you really are.AlreadyGone

Friday, Feb. 2, 1979, I skipped classes (and, later, my night shift at Augsburg Fortress Publishing House) to help fellow grad Geoff Morrison plan a Saturday party at his folks’ place.

Geoff was a witty kid from the only black family in my high school, who lived in a dorm on the university’s West Bank, Middlebrook Hall. As a freshman at the University of Minnesota, I was still living at home with the Family Project. Geoff’s parents were away for the weekend. It being mid-winter, we kids decided it was time to play.

So we jumped in fellow Moundite Steve Pletsch’s Saab, stopped at the Middlebrook cafeteria where we ate lunch with “Renee, Kathy and another girl, real cute, who told me Yes [was] coming to town in March.” I noted the mystery girl’s name as “Lisa,” but later learned I had gotten it wrong. She was Thérèse Williams, a mousy brunette from St. Louis, Missouri. We told the girls about the party, urging them to drive out to Geoff’s house the following night. A bunch of dorm rats were onboard already. After lunch we headed back to the suburbs around a quarter to two.

Once in town we visited our old high school “to watch the Talent Show tryouts. It was pretty good—Steve, Geoff and I walked into the Crowded Choir Room, everyone was saying ‘hi’ and really surprised that two graduates strolled in. It really felt strange.” My senior prom date, Sally Olsen “waved ‘hi’ to me and that really felt nice.” Dave Rogers and his band did a cover of “Sweet Home, Alabama,” new seniors Andy Phillips and Bruce KenKnight did an impression of the Blues Brothers’ cover of “Soul Man,” and “a kid (don’t know him—sophomore) did ‘Already Gone’ an Eagles song of extremely fine caliber. He did an excellent job of it—singing and guitar.”

That unknown kid was like a totem of all I was feeling at the time—thirsting for independence.

Here I was—Big College Man—trying to impress high schoolers back at the old stomping grounds, and still not knowing where I was headed myself. Living at home didn’t help, and working downtown after classes also brought me down. The forthcoming party and new social life? Only things showing promise. Since “Lisa” had mentioned the Yes concert, naturally I wanted to ask her out. Maybe, I thought, she’d be at Geoff’s party and we could talk about it then.

Saturday I left for Geoff’s early, around 3:30 p.m., to help him set up. “When I got to his place,” the journal states, “they were just leaving to pick up the kegs. We got two 16’s of Special Export and picked up a pint bottle of vodka for the punch.” We then went to campus to pick up another kid, and told the others to cruise out to the party anytime after 7:30 p.m.

Instead of college girls Renee, Kathy and “Lisa,” a “strange cross-section of people came: burnouts, hockey jocks, the guys from school, and a few sophomores” from the high school.

Then, you could’ve hit me with a brick. In walked Michelle Berquist.

I was so happy to see her again I later wrote in the journal: “I must’ve been hanging on Michelle, but she, deep-down, didn’t seem to mind, although I know she wouldn’t admit it. She was with her friends Cindy Dorn and Penny Niccum and really looked great, and I wanted to let her know that…”

A junior guy named Chuck Ott “was too busy jokingly fawning himself at [Michelle’s] feet, while I sat there next to [her], with my arm gently around her, too drunkenly silent.”—A state which, the journal further notes, I quickly realized wasn’t doing me any good: “I had a Pizza Hut glass and every time it was empty, I filled it. Eventually I had the sense to put it down and lay off the brew.”

But Michelle had already gone, leaving with Cindy and Penny. The night seemed a little duller—still, not so much that I didn’t glean fodder for the next day’s writing session of The Crowded Room:

      The Party. How does everybody behave? How are their feelings revealed in a party situation? …A fight sequence between Keith and a girl he knows. They stand talking between themselves. Keith has a beer.

     “Bronsky wasn’t there!” she said, her mouth hanging open.

     “Don’t call me a liar, you little bitch!” Keith snorted and she started to cry.

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~ by completelyinthedark on October 11, 2013.

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